Afropop is having a moment. The wildly popular (and diverse) music bubbling out of Africa has caught the ears of not only those on the continent, but the diaspora as well, spawning collaborations with popular artists like Drake and Machel Montano. Essayist Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah once said that Bobby Shmurda’s Shmoney dance “collapsed Flatbush to the islands to Africa in 15 seconds.” Well, Afropop music is sending that ancestral energy back across the Atlantic and the result is refreshing.
If the One Africa concert at Brooklyn's Barclay’s Center last week is any measure, the world is starting to pay attention. Upbeat, infectious and informed with traditional polyrhythmic beats, Afropop shows no sign of slowing down. The genre boasts over 200 popular artists in iTunes alone, with many more who are sure to come out of the continent. This list will focus mostly on Nigerian and Ghanian artists, but there are a number of popular acts from Angola, South Africa, Ethiopia and other countries in Africa. If you are still new to the genre, here are a few artists you need to know to jumpstart your Afropop addiction:
Stateside he may be most known for his work with Drake on “One Dance,” but Nigerian rapper Wizkid has had success in his home country way before that. Check out his song "Ojuelegba," which is a mellow, reflective homage to his hometown. It’s so good that Drake and Skepta couldn’t resist hopping on the beat and putting their spin on it.
PSquare, the Nigerian twin act Peter and Paul Okoye, serves high energy entertainment in their songs. “Alingo” is one of their catchiest hits, as well as “Chop My Money,” featuring Akon (which encourages a woman to spend his money). Unfortunately you’re going to have to get your PSquare fix via YouTube, as Nigerian outlets report that the popular duo have since parted ways.
"Johnny," Yemi Alade
If you’re a woman who’s been wronged by shady lover, then Yemi Alade’s “Johnny” will strike a nerve and make you laugh. The Nigerian songstress busts out her serious singing and dancing chops in the video for this hit. Put this song on in any club and see how the crowd reacts to this uptempo Nigerian version of Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust the Windows Out Your Car.”
Davido’s “Skelewu” is wildly popular, and it's no wonder — the repetitive, infectious beat compels you to dance. That’s probably also why so many fans have choreographed their own moves to the song.
"Azonto," Fuse ODG feat. Tiffany
Ghanaian Brit rapper Fuse ODG brought the bubbling Azonto dance moves of Ghana to wider audiences with the hit song “Azonto.” If you’ve seen videos of people doing the dance with coordinated arm, hip and leg movements at weddings and parties, there’s no doubt you’ll want to try to master it yourself.
Sarkodie, a Twi-rapping Ghanian performer with a killer sense of style and business sense, is a staple in Afropop music. His song "Adonai" is a great way to get acquainted with his work, and it’s quite the hit — it garnered over 31 Million hits on YouTube.
"Bum Bum Remix," Timaya feat. Machel Montano
Timaya is another Nigerian singer (#anotherone) who has put in serious time on the Afropop music scene. “Bum Bum” is the kind of energetic song that will have you shaking your bum all night at the club, or help you push through those last miles on the treadmill. If you want a taste of his work with a Caribbean twist, peep the remix of his smash hit “Bum Bum” with Trinidadian soca legend Machel Montano.
"Abeg Abeg," Burna Boy
Burna Boy is a Nigerian artist who fuses dancehall rhythms with African sensibilities. “Abeg Abeg” is an enjoyable song, driven as much by the choppy beat as by Burna Boy’s determination to get ahead in life without being encumbered by haters.
Romantic," Korede Bello feat. Tiwa Savage
Perfect for a gentle two-step with bae, this Korede Bello/Tiwa Savage collabo’s gently rocking beat is sweet without being overly saccharine. If you can get past the S-curl situation that Korede Bello is rocking in the first half of the video you can enjoy the glamour that Nigerian songstress Tiwa Savage brings to the whole vibe.