Three songs to understand the strength of African pop
In 2024, the Grammys will feature a category dedicated to African music for the first time in history. This is just further evidence that pop from Africa is increasingly being talked about.
But could African music become even more important in the charts worldwide in the coming years? In the video above and in the text below it is g1 explains the strength of African pop.
“Calm Down”, one of the biggest dance hits of recent years, brings together the Nigerian rapper Rema, one of the song's authors, and the gentle and charming voice of Selena Gomez.
Released in 2022, this megahit proved that the Afrobeats style can win fans all over the world. The genre mixes more obvious styles such as R&B and rap with more traditional West African rhythms such as:
- Kpanlogo, a kind of Ghanaian version of rock n' roll from the 50s;
- Fuji, a Nigerian style sung in the Yurobá language and influenced by the music of Muslim festivals;
- Ndombolo, a genre originating from Congo with heavy percussion and rumba in its DNA, which later gave rise to kuduro;
- Afrobeat (which is not the same as current Afrobeats), a Nigerian style that combines local rhythms and American jazz, with Fela Kuti as a big name.
Tyla and Ayra Starr, the new pop stars
1 of 3 South African singer Tyla — Photo: Disclosure South African singer Tyla — Photo: Disclosure
Far beyond “Calm Down”, African pop also has a current hit, from the South African singer Tyla. After its appearance on TikTok, “Water” reached the American top 10 of “Billboard” magazine. It is an Amapianostyle song very popular in South Africa and is carried by the piano with influences from jazz and house music.
Of course there are also other semihits from Africa. “Last Last” is sung by Burna Boy, a Nigerian who has been active since 2010. The song mixes two languages: English and Yoruba. Sonically, it is another Afrobeats song, the arrangement of which is based on a sample of “He Wasn't Man Enough” by the American Toni Braxton.
In addition to Tyla and Burna Boy, the list of Grammy nominees for African music also includes Ayrna Starr, another revelation of African pop, and two other veteran artists of Nigerian origin: Asake and Davido. The two and Burna Boy managed to sell 20,000 tickets at the O2 Arena in London for their respective shows in the English capital.
2 of 3 The Nigerian singer Tems Photo: Disclosure The Nigerian singer Tems Photo: Disclosure
In 2022, other Nigerian Tems, codename of singer Temilade Openiyi, appeared on the g1 betting list. This Afrobeats pop star's name became more talked about after she sang on Drake's 2021 album. She and the Canadian rapper performed a duet on “Fountains.”
There are other African pop stars with longer careers (like Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade) and newcomers who should soon take up more space (Uncle Waffles, Kamo Mphela).
With so many talented artists and rhythms to discover, the only certainty is that African pop will rise up the streaming rankings and appear even more frequently on party playlists here.
3 of 3 Nigerian singer Ayra Starr Photo: Disclosure Nigerian singer Ayra Starr Photo: Disclosure