Check out our list of the top 10 African music artists of 2021.
You may call 2021 “African Music’s Most Dominant Year Yet”. The focus of the world on music from Africa was crazy this year, and it paid off for some of the continent’s hardest-working artists.
From various parts of the continent including West Africa, South Africa, Central Africa, and even Eastern Africa, music could not be hindered. And, it wasn’t. African music graduated from being restricted to just neighbouring countries and broadened its territories.
Big Names like Wizkid, Burna Boy gained major recognition from snagging their first Grammy Awards, and also selling out shows across the world including in Arenas in North America, etc. CKay, fondly called Africa’s boyfriend upgraded his wooing skills as his sleeper hit song, “Love Nwantinti” became a global phenomenon. The song went viral on TikTok and led to him topping and also making appearances in charts across the world.
Did we mention he has charted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Global 200 songs for multiple weeks? Well, he has. The love for African music has been on the other level. Out of South Africa, the Amapiano sub-genre has metamorphosed into a global movement. Artists from various parts of the continent have jumped on the Piano trend and delivered hit songs, remixes, remakes, and even gained so much recognition for their music.
Also, thanks to big names like Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa, Mr. JazziQ, and more, Amapiano has gained the attention of major media outlets in the world. Months back, Kabza, Africa’s reigning King of Amapiano snagged a feature on Rolling Stone Mag for his contributions to the movement of the genre. JazziQ and co. also enjoyed the viral movement of the sub-genre through the hit song “Woza” which led to a feature on CNN.
In all, 2021 has been the year when Africa dominated the music scene and the media. Now, here’s our list of the Top 10 African music artists who have owned the year in the best ways.
Inarguably the year’s biggest artist, Wizkid kicked off 2021 with a successful album “Made In Lagos” clearing a path for him. Little did he know that he would snag a Grammy Award for his collaboration on the music video Beyoncé’s hit song, “Brown Skin Girl”, chart his first song as a lead artist in the Billboard Hot 100, and even hit the top 10. And most of all, sell out the O2 Arena in minutes and do it multiple times. Crazy right? Well, that’s the power of Big Wiz. Wizkid’s crossover hit song “Essence” featuring Tems & Justin Bieber was named the Best Song of 2021 by Rolling Stone.
When your name is Davido, you have no choice but to deliver every year. David Adeleke flew on many wings as a featured artist this year, and he still shone the brightest. He charted many songs at number one across many countries and gained more recognition on the international scene. With South African star, Focalistic, he made the remix for “Ke Star” a major trend, and also gave hitmakers like Adekunle Gold, CKay, KDDO, Peruzzi, and more new chart-toppers. He also trended heavily after garnering over 200 million Naira from friends in days to celebrate his birthday. This led to some international media focus.
3. Burna Boy
Nigerian singer and songwriter, Burna Boy popularly called, African Giant or Odogwu owned the year right from the beginning. The Afro Beats King proved that twice is the charm when he won his first Grammy Award after being nominated for the second time in a row. This sent so much excitement across the African continent. He further added sold-out shows to his repertoire, hitting stops in North America, and also selling out the 02 Arena in London. Burna also appeared as a featured artist on Wizkid’s record-breaking album “Made In Lagos, and delivered hits including “Question”, “Want It All”, “B. D’Or” and more. He also snagged a BET Award for Best International Act.
4. Diamond Platnumz
Wherever Diamond Platnumz goes, East Africa follows. The Tanzanian singer, songwriter, dancer, and performer continued his dominance by flooding the airwaves with major hits. He dropped a couple of them including the infectious “Kamata”, assembled hitmakers, Focalistic, Mapara A Jazz, Ntosh Gaz to feature on his Piano jam “IYO”, and vibed with Rema on “Gimmie”. Platnumz even snagged himself a “BET Best International Act” nomination. His attire at the event stole the show. He also scored a couple of other awards including two AFRIMMAs and more. Of course, his wins were a big deal for East Africa.
5. Fally Ipupa
Congolese singer, songwriter, record producer, Fally Ipupa recorded a lot of success this year. Ipupa extended his legacy as one of Africa’s biggest and most bankable artists by delivering hit songs to the airwaves. He recorded a new milestone when his feature on Tanzanian singer, Diamond Platnumz’s hit song “Inama” recorded over 100 million views on YouTube. Fally Ipupa also featured on Nigerian Hi-life singer, Flavour hit song “Berna Reloaded” alongside Platnumz, and also snagged himself a couple of awards included two awards at AFRIMMA 2021.
6. Yemi Alade
Yemi Alade or Mama Africa like her fans fondly call her remained a mighty force in 2021. Alade’s influence on the international scene has been on a whole other level, and she has maintained an amazing relationship with her fans all over the world. Yemi Alade closed out the previous year with the beautiful “Empress” album and released a number of successful singles including “Deceive”, “True Love”, “Dancing”, and the most recent “Double Double”, etc. She joined Grammy-winner, Angelique Kidjo on the song “Dignity”. The highlight of her year happened when she appeared as a performer at the 2021 Earthshot Prize Awards where she performed her hit song “Rain” in front of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
7. Tiwa Savage
Nigerian singer and songwriter, Tiwa Savage has been called the Queen of Afrobeats for a lot of reasons. The popular singer has taken African music to a global audience and brought international focus to Nigeria and Africa. After spending some time away working on new music, she released her highly anticipated project, the “Water & Garri EP” and it became an instant success. The EP features international stars, Brandy, Nas, and more. Its single “Somebody’s Son” featuring legendary RnB singer, Brandy became the biggest hit on the project. American singer, songwriter, producer, and fashion icon, Pharrell Williams is quoted calling a song on the project “a classic”.
8. Koffi Olomide
Congolese singer, songwriter, and performer, Koffi Olomide has been on an upward ride since the beginning of the year. After dominating the 2020 year-end with the major hit song “Waah!” with Diamond Platnumz, the song continued to gain major airplay in the first few months of 2021. He went on to collaborate with some of Africa’s biggest stars including Nandy, Ninho, Tiwa Savage, and more. Koffi has dominated airwaves all over Africa as one of Central Africa’s most played artists.
9. Black Coffee
Renowned South African DJ, and record producer, Black Coffee has come a long way from his feature in the 2004 Red Bull Music Academy held in Cape Town. Coffee kicked off the year with the release of his highly acclaimed House music album “Subconsciously” in early February. The album features guest contributions from both local and international artists, producers, and DJs. The album also earned a nomination for “Best Dance/Electronic Album” at the forthcoming 64th Annual Grammy Awards. He’s nominated alongside international stars, Major Lazer, Marshmello, Illenium, and more. Coffee has also spent a greater part of the year touring the world and performing major gigs.
Undeniably Africa’s biggest female artist in 2021, Nigerian singer and songwriter, Tems dominated airwaves with her sound. The talented singer gained major international recognition for her feature on Wizkid’s hit song, “Essence”. The song tore through charts across the world, and also scored a remix featuring Justin Bieber. Tems’ gained the attention of top artists including Rihanna, Adele, SZA, and more. She also released the record-breaking EP “If Orange Was Place” and it gained massive critical acclaim. She also appeared as a featured artist on Canadian star, Drake’s record-breaking album “Certified Lover Boy” contributing to the song “Fountains”.