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5 Best African Music Artists

Oct 08, 2021 11:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian
compilation of African musicians images

Music has been used to communicate and interact with individuals since its conception. Musicians have always used their art to help educate and empower people, and there has never been a better time to become acquainted with the most musically substantial continent on the planet – Africa – fondly known as the ancestral homeland of rhythm. Although there was a multitude of African “cross-over” creatives who have found greatness in the mainstream US music space, let us focus on the musicians who have remained on the continent and are further carving out the music scenes within their countries, creating new genres, and reinventing what it means to be an African artist. Here are the 5 Best African Music artists.

Spoek Mathambo

"Township tech" is more than just a subgenre of music. It not only describes a specific strain of South Africa's emerging electronic music scene but also symbolizes one of the country's most active creative centers. Spoek Mathambo, a DJ and rapper, invented the phrase a few years ago, naming himself the prince of it in the process and becoming the forefront of South African electronic dance music. Combining different electro genres such as UK grime, dubstep, and punk, as well as a local variant of house music, the end product is an exciting new genre in South Africa's music landscape - produced on none other than your average home computer. Mathambo rose to prominence after performing a cover of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control."

Figure 1 - Photograph of Spoek Mathambo. Source - Google 

Angélique Kidjo 

Angélique Kidjo, a four-time Grammy Award winner, is one of the most influential performers in international music today, a creative powerhouse with thirteen albums to her credit. She made her debut in the music industry in the 1980s and hasn't looked back since. Following the release of her chart-topping 1991 album Logozo, West African singer Angélique Kidjo established herself as a fixture of world music, combining her unique multilingual fusion of Afrobeat, pop, jazz, reggae, and various African traditions with collaborators ranging from Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet to Peter Gabriel, Alicia Keys, Dr. John, and others. Kidjo speaks about child labor in her 1992 breakthrough single "We We," which was especially prevalent in African communities at the time. In 2002, the West African singer-songwriter was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Kidjo's music continues to raise awareness now. In her 2014 album EVE, she sings about the everyday challenges that women experience while simultaneously promoting their strengths.

Figure 2 - Photograph of Angélique Kidjo. Source - Google

Sauti Sol

Sauti Sol is a Kenyan Afro-pop group that was named Best Group (Africa) at the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards, as well as the 2016 Soundcity MTV Awards and the African Muzik Magazine Awards. Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Polycarp Otieno, and Savara Mudigi make up the ensemble, which combines soulful vocals with vocal harmonies, guitar riffs, and drum rhythm. Sauti Sol's music combines warm, resonant pop with indigenous Kenyan elements. Sauti Sol made history in 2016 when they became the first Kenyan artist to run a successful and professional nationwide tour. Sauti Sol's Live and Die in Afrika tour, which began in Kenya, expanded to the international arena, with an emphasis on African nations and a thorough American tour. Their fusion of dynamic rhythms has propelled the ensemble to prominence as one of Africa's most recognized.

Figure 3 - Photograph of Sauti Sol. Source - Google

Mr. Eazi


Oluwatosin Ajibade, better known as Mr. Eazi, is a Nigerian singer, composer, and entrepreneur whose distinct style, termed "Banku" music, never appears to break stride, even as it combines Nigerian Afrobeats with Ghanaian elements. Two singles, "Pipi Dance" and "Bankulize," achieved popularity on dance floors in both Ghana and the United Kingdom, and he returned to Lagos in 2016 to try his luck in the region's largest market. He released Life Is Eazi, Vol. 1 – Accra To Lagos  in 2017, which included songs like "Leg Over," which are notable for being deliberately utilizing basic sounds with just enough swing to grab listeners. Eazi is currently the driving force behind emPawa, a hybrid charity and investment initiative aimed at providing the next generation of African artists with the resources they need to thrive.

Figure 4 - Photograph of Mr. Eazi. Source - Google 

Sha Sha

Charmaine Shamiso "Sha Sha" Mapimbiro, a Zimbabwean singer and songwriter, is known as the "Queen of Amapiano," a South African genre of music that combines jazz, house, kwaito, and other sounds. Her career began in 2011 when she was 19 years old, and she was found by Audius Mtawarira. She rose to prominence through her collaborations with South African amapiano producers such as DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small, on whose song "We Mama" she performed in 2019. In the same year, she released her debut EP, "Blossom," an eight-track collection featuring Samthing Soweto, DJ Maphorisa, and Kabza De Small. Her single "Tender Love" charted in the top ten on four separate streaming sites. At the 2020 BET Awards, she was won “New International Act."

 Figure 5 - Photograph of Sha Sha. Source - Google

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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