Happy New Year. The future looks bright for African musicians and content creators as their ingenuity and talent are changing the global cultural landscape. Like the abundance of mineral wealth on the Continent underground, the cultural wealth of Africa and its diaspora runs deeper and hits are non-stop at the source. Many artists have been successful this past year but here are a few bands and artists who have changed the game completely for the dancefloor in 2024.
Flavour - Game Changer (Dike) [Official Video]
This is my number one video and song for 2023 for the set design, styling, choreography, and bombastic confidence of Flavour, who presents us with an unapologetic display of his Igbo roots from Biafra.
Kin'gongolo Kiniata - Full Performance (Live on KEXP)
http://KEXP.ORG presents Kin’gongolo Kiniata performing live at Salle de la Cité in Rennes, France, during Trans Musicales 2022. Recorded December 7, 2022. Banning Eyre saw them live at WOMEX in September and we have featured them in our Year End edition of Planet Afropop. My top pic for just using utilitarian kitchen utensils and found objects to make instruments. They are revolutionizing our idea of how and what materials are used to make music and exposing their incredible musicality.
Dalie [Kamo Mphela, Khalil Harrison & Tyler ICU Feat Baby S.O.N] [Official Music Video]
This song is pulverizing the competition in South Africa and has taken TikTok dance challenges to a new level. Aside from good storytelling, the music video exposes the unmistakable takeover of Amapiano on the global pop music scene with this feminized, Mapantsula-inspired aesthetic.
Kcee - Ojapiano (Official Video)
Traditional classical African instruments are making a huge comeback and the Ọjà flute of the Igbo has come to the dance floor. Aside from the visually stunning video with masked dancers and mind-boggling choreography, this track seamlessly blends Amapiano and Gqom with traditional Igbo musical instruments such as the ekwe, udu (percussion instrument), igba (drum), ogene (bell), ichaka/0sha (rattle), okwa (gong). Classic!
As some Afropop readers and listeners know, I have a problem with annual “top ten” lists. Too many choices. Too many genres. Too much music I never got to evaluate properly… I’ve said all this before. So this year, I am picking just one “game changer,” the 2023 album from Mokoomba of Zimbabwe, Tusona (Tracings In The Sand). As I wrote in my review of the album, “If anyone thinks guitar-driven live bands are passe in the era of Afrobeats and Amapiano, think again.” So maybe Mokoomba are not so much a game changer as a game keeper, but one thing is sure. This super-talented combo is at the top of its game in a way that no other band I’ve heard this year can quite match.
What makes them so great? An unmistakable vocal sound, topped by the shape-shifting phenomenon of Mathias Muzaza’s God-given singing, the individual mastery of instruments and perfect unity of a collective sound, the solid grounding in the cultures and languages of their home region in Northern Zimbabwe, enhanced by a pan-African aesthetic that ventures outward to Congo and even Mali, and finally, the consistent strength of their songwriting.
There’s not a weak or tossed-off track, or even moment, on this album. But I think the song “Nzara Hapana,” the opener, says it best.
Now back to Mukwae…
Sidiki Diabate - Nankama (clip officiel)
Heir to the Kora crown, taking the instrument onto the dancefloor is Mali prodigy and son of Djeli Toumani Diabate. His experimentation with inserting the Kora instrument in popular Afrobeats music but using ancient riffs is riveting in its innovation. Check out the Nguni player!
Queen Omega - No Love Dubplate- Little Lion Sound-Next Episode
Jeneile Osborne, better known as Queen Omega, is a roots reggae singer Dancehall sensation born in Trinidad, who is blowing up this year with her anthem, No Love off the album Freedom Legacy (2023).
Mercure du Zouglou- Yakoi [Official Music Video]
Next up, homegrown talent from Cote dÍvoire came right out of obscurity from an Abijan market and inserted himself into the music scene via a viral YouTube video.
Aya Nakamura - Lancôme Special: “Hot”, “Baby”, “J’ai mal” and “Bobo”, at Domaine de la Rose (Clip officiel)
It is no surprise that a star like Aya Daniako, aka Aya Nakamura, born in Bamako, Mali to a family of Djeli, has passed the billion streams mark on Spotify, making her the most listened-to French-language female artist on Spotify or the world currently surpassing Edith Piaf...in the Netherlands. This is an acoustic set of four of her flagship tracks at Lancôme: “Hot”, “Baby”, “J’ai mal” and “Bobo”, at Domaine de la Rose, with her band.
Teejay - Drift (Music Video)
A Jamaican artist and Dancehall song blasting out of car speakers all over the world with its naughty Jamaican Patois lyrics.
"...See a hot gyal, me a call her hеllo
If you see the gyal yah dance, then thе place get mellow".
Chris Brown - Sensational (Official Video) ft. Davido, Lojay)
It is fair to say Afrobeats saved R&B as American artists scrambled to collaborate with Africans in 2023. Chris Brown's career and his continued collaboration with African artists like NIgeria´s Davido have led to his great success. Taking inspiration from newcomers like Tyler and Naledi from South Africa, with this move he will continue into 2024 as a top R&B artist in the US market.
Davido - Unavailable (Official Video) ft. Musa Keys
Mr. Afrobeats Hitmaker Davido continues his love affair with Amapiano, by inserting himself into South Africa´s musical narrative by using their symbols and imagery in the storyline for this song.
Bongeziwe Mabandla - Ndikhale (official visualizer)
Mexico was the inspiration for this video from South African Bongeziwe Mabandla. This infectious melody and collaboration with Mozambican producer Tiago Correia-Paulo, is an uplifting anthem to get you feeling hopeful into 2024.
Elyanna - MAMA EH (Official Video)
A newcomer on the block is Elian Amer Marjiya known as Elyanna, a Chilo-Palestinian singer and songwriter with an edgy, taboo-breaking Arabic hip-hop-inspired hit Mama Eh.
Mnike - Tyler ICU & Tumelo.za ft. DJ Maphorisa, Nandipha 808, Ceeka RSA & Tyron Dee
This Amapiano song creates traffic jams as people in South Africa spontaneously start to dance and go crazy so clear the road if you hear it. You might get trampled on.
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