10 African Artists you should know right now (March 2023)
Music moves quickly these days. The monthly column, “10 African Artists You Should Know” cuts through the noise to tell you the rising artists from the continent on Audiomack you should be paying attention to. Listen to standout selections from all 10 artists as a playlist below.
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
A member of the Ghanaian group La Même Gang, Darkovibes’ solo endeavors are eccentric in their style, but familiar in messages of love and dedication to the craft. The Accra-born singer-songwriter utilizes a lyrical fusion of Ga, Twi, pidgin, and English across highlife, Afrobeats, amapiano, and beyond. His clever approach to Afrobeats has earned him co-signs from numerous A-list artists in West Africa. On his late 2022 single “Happy Day,” Darkovibes channels dancehall to express the light a partner brings to his life.
Hometown: Diourbel, Senegal
Abdou Lahat Thioune started out as a rapper, but it was through mbalax that he made a name for himself as Jahman X-Press. December 2019’s “Def si code” was an instant hit in Senegal, followed by “Sekougn Bayante,” which, like the former, illustrates complex nuances in modern relationships. Jahman X-Press has since built a reputation in Senegal for his unconventional approach to love songs. On his latest single “Djaayma Guerre Bi,” the Diourbel native is fluent in classic mbalax in a call to action to potential suitors to show their love rather than tell it.
Hometown: Fort Portal, Uganda
Juliana Kanyomozi stepped into music in 1999 as one half of a female duo called I-Jay, shortly after, the group disbanded, and she spent the 2000s as a radio host while finding her footing in the music industry. In 2015, she signed to Ugandan label Swangz Avenue, and officially relaunched her career with the single “Woman,” celebrating women on International Women’s Day. Juliana Kanyomozi dips into pop, R&B, and Afrobeats to create thought-provoking songs that remain easy on the ears. “Omwana,” her most recent release, is a wholesome Bongo Flava track which glorifies the beauty of a lifelong commitment.
Hometown: Mwanza, Tanzania
Born in Mwanza and raised in Dar es Salaam, Yasirun Yasin Shaban—a.k.a. Yammi—competed in many talent shows in her teens, but special recognition from Tanzanian singer Nandy was the turning point in her career. The African Artists You Should Know alum signed her to a record deal in January. Yammi makes Baibuda music, which combines the more mainstream Bongo Flava sound with the traditional taarab genre popularized on the East African coast. Propelled by sweet standout “Tunapendezana,” the 20-year-old’s debut EP Three Hearts provides fans of Bongo Flava with a fresh face teeming with potential.
Hometown: Mbololo, Kenya
Gengetone is a style of music born in the inner cities of Nairobi that is growing in popularity but also infamous for its explicit themes. Ssaru is one of a few prominent women in Gengetone; she caught the Kenyan public’s interest when her freestyles went viral on social media in 2019. Since then, the 21-year-old rapper has created space for herself in the genre through platforming relatable messages of Nairobi youth culture. February release “Some Love” features an ensemble of Gengetone artists with a singular message to extravagantly show affection.
Hometown: Kigali, Rwanda
Chriss Eazy has been a rising person of interest in Rwanda since he won a national talent show in 2016. The 22-year-old entered the Rwandan scene as a rapper with several songs and freestyles released in 2020. He pivoted to Afropop in June 2021 with “Fasta,” and the suggestive single brought him a wider mainstream audience. Released last month, “EDENi” focuses on a promise of paradise to a lover for taking a leap of faith.
Hometown: Conakry, Guinea
Recognized for her fusions of traditional Guinean zouk and Afrobeats, Djelykaba Bintou places culture in a contemporary context. At a young age, she grew familiar with the art of performing by following her parents to sing at weddings and baptisms. She was officially unveiled as a signee to Guinean label Musik 100 Frontières in 2016, and released her debut album M’affaire Mara a year later. A tender sophomore album titled Love Story followed in 2019. “Bébé Gâté,” which translates to “Spoiled Baby,” details why she is the prize in relationships.
Hometown: Man, Côte d’Ivoire
Originally from Western Côte d’Ivoire, Roseline Layo arrived in Abidjan as a seamstress, but quickly began pursuing her dreams to become an artist. In 2014, she reached the finale of Star Karaoké, a national singing competition that brought awareness to her talents. She chose to refine her artistry by joining an orchestra before she officially began releasing music. Her 2021 single “Donnez-Nous Un Peu” went viral and served as a launchpad for her debut album Elus de dieu, which showcases her talents for making zouglou and coupé-décalé for younger listeners. On “C’est La Vie,” she gives listeners tips on how to live a joyful life.
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria
Tim Lyre was born in Lagos to a family that enjoyed gospel and classical music. Over time, he incorporated highlife, neo-soul, and Afrobeats into his palette and started out as a producer in 2012. He broke into Nigeria’s alté (alternative) scene via production credits for artists like PrettyboyDO and AYLØ, and released a joint EP in 2019 with Nigerian producer DaRe. Last March, his debut album Worry < contemplated the coming-of-age angst particular to the modern day, with encouragement to overcome mental battles. Tim’s latest release “Confess” is mid-tempo Afrobeats, backed by heavy saxophone chords, where he honestly confronts his life situation and urges others to do the same.
Hometown: Monrovia, Liberia
Jonathan Lee Pratt, or JZyNo, was born in Liberia and has lived in Ghana for the better part of a decade, a mix of cultures he embraces to this day. Primarily an Afrobeats singer, JZyNo often makes songs about yearning and affection. He signed with the Liberian label AEMG in 2019 and released his breakout song “Kpan Kpan Me” that December. More notable was his reconnection with his second home, Ghana, through African Artists You Should Know alum Medikal on the club banger “Fall Down Inside.” “Onana” is JZyNo’s latest, which shows gratitude for a significant other and affirms serenity in their relationship.
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