[INTERVIEW] ManlikeJoe’s Game-plan

Patrick Ezema
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ManlikeJoe released “Games” in December, a slow burning groove that focused on the subtle games that nearly inevitably build to a coital conclusion. The singer balances the emotional and sexual, and with the aid of niinety9, is able to weave a song that has a little bit of everything for everyone. We spoke to ManlikeJoe about the new song, his career, his personal life and more. ManlikeJoe responses are marked in bold and have been lightly edited for clarity. 

I’m a creative and expressive personality with a strong sense of style and unique perspective of life, ManlikeJoe says when I ask him about his off-music personality. As is the case with artists of all kinds, these aspects of his character find their way into the music he creates. Joe’s Cruise, His EP from two years ago, carried a strong stamp of unique identity as he skirted RnB and Afropop genres, establishing himself in two distinct fields, while picking elements from other genres like raggae and rap. My music is my own solar system and universe where I can express reality in art. It’s heavy on the feeling, he says, before adding I’m not the most expressive with words so I love the fact I can express myself freely with the music.

Such a deep connection to music suggests a history that starts from early childhood, and ManlikeJoe concurs. It was in my primary school where I first picked an interest on the violin and then the saxophone. I grew up in Lagos with my parents and three younger siblings. I spent my afternoons and weekends either playing music or spending more time with the family. I used to listen to Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Mo Hits, Timaya, 2face and many more, and I enjoyed their music. His growth in music progressed side by side with his education, and this could only have been possible with a supportive family system. In high school I got to meet more like minded people and I discovered myself and what I wanted to do. My family has been my support. They have their principles and I hold on to them. 

He would begin getting into the studio to record music, and then this passion morphed into a profession after a few years. I started recording music as far back as 2014, but I only began doing it professionally in 2020, after I rebranded and became ManlikeJoe. Even under his earlier moniker, Joe, he already showed streaks of his music style that he would come for flesh out in the following years, and on the song, “Used To”, he took a soft afropop production for a trip round the tracks of love, featuring Sir Tami and frequent collaborator niinety9. His latest song, “Games”, also features the latter, and ManlikeJoe envisions it as a track painting my picture of a modern day situationship and toxic love games with the constant back and forth. 

Even after acknowledging his growth in recent years, ManlikeJoe promises there is even more to come. As for my plans for the future, I don’t want to give anything away but all I can spill is a project’s dropping next year. The new year will be filled with beautiful music and a wonderful experience . Asked about his vision of the next five years, however, he was less vague and more dreamy. I’ll prolly be touring or on a private island with my team putting together the next album with a couple classic projects out. Well, if ManlikeJoe continues at current trajectory putting out tracks like “Games”, there is no reason why the Lagos-born purveyor of delectable melodies cannot actualise them. 

Patrick Ezema

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