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Top 12 African Music Genres In 2020

Music might be classified into several genres based on many factors, including elements of  composition. Africa is a buzzing hub of genres of music. In this post we are going to treat some of those genres. 

It is critical to note that some genres are deep-rooted in some countries, and loosely rooted – or rooted not at all – in others. For instance, Nigeria is well known for its vibrant afrobeat culture but not for amapiano. 

Also, some genres of music are mostly played and appreciated in Francophone Africa than in Anglophone Africa. Care for the details? You’re welcome to take a leap with us. Let’s go! 

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  • Afrobeats

Afrobeats has a chequered history dating back to the 1970s. It was said to have originated with Nigerian singer Fela at is Kalakuta Republic in Lagos. But veteran singer Orlando Julius would rather have the world believe the genre originated with him. 

Anyway, Afrobeats is a dominant genre in Africa right now, with a wide sweep of coverage in Western media, from New York Times to the Washington Post. 

  • Gospel

Gospel is another top genre in Africa. This genre, which is sometimes used interchangeably with Christian music, caters to the spiritual needs of the Christian race. 

Although a vibrant genre in its own right, the reach of gospel cannot be compared to that of Afrobeats. 

  • Amapiano

Amapiano has its headquarters and most loyal fans in southern Africa. South Africa has so far been recognized at the home of amapiano music, and rightly so. The genre originated there. 

Truth be told, compared to other genres, amapiano is but a recent manifestation. However, right now, the genre commands such a massive following that it is justly recognized as one of the top genres at the moment. It is in record that some hip hop and gqom champs have even ported to the genre. 

  • Hip Hop

This list wouldn’t be complete without including this genre, which is as important as any other on this list. Hip hop has got a massive following in Africa, comparable to that of afrobeat. The genre should appear among the top five on the continent. 

  • Bongo Flava

 Bongo flava is the generic phrase for Tanzanian music, a mellifluous medley of RnB, afrobeat, taarab, dansi and other genres. It is a genre as critical as any on this list. 

Notable artistes in the vanguard of the bongo flava revolution include Diamond Platnumz, Rayvanny, Mbosso, Alikiba, Harmonize, Nandy and Isha Mashauzi – an abridged list. 

  • House

House music has a couple of variants, including Afro-house. The genre, like amapiano before it, has a particularly robust following is southern Africa, especially South Africa. The house music scene is so vibrant there’s not a day without a house jam dropping. 

  • Gqom

Gqom is another top genre in Africa. However, it might be noted that this genre has its most dedicated followers in South Africa, where it originated. Durban is a particularly fervid gqom hotspot. 

Once upon a time, gqom was the in-thing in South Africa. The genre has since been overtaken by amapiano. Notable voices in gqom include Mampintsha (who’d once joked he’d demolish amapiano), CampMasters, DJ Tira and Babes Wodumo, who is called Gqom Queen because of her album of the same title, and her popularity in the gqom genre. 

  • Hiplife

Hiplife is another top music genre in Africa. The genre, which deftly fuses Ghanaian culture with elements of hip hop, is mostly delivered in the Akan language. 

Although becoming popular in Ghana, the genre’s popularity index is way below that of hip hop and afrobeats. Popular hiplife artistes include Reggie Rockstone, Samini, and Sarkodie. 

  • Highlife

Highlife is another popular genre which originated in Ghana. The genre has since spread to other countries, including Nigeria. Notable figures who had ruled the highlife scene in Nigeria once upon a time include Victor Uwaifo, Osita Osadebe, and Oliver de Coque. 

  • Kwaito

Kwaito is one of the oldest genres in South Africa, and it is still popular in the Rainbow Nation. The genre flowered brilliantly over two decades ago. 

Johannesburg is home to this genre which has Lebo Mathosa, Mandoza, Arthur Mafokate and Oskido among its greats. 

  • Coupé-décalé

Coupé-décalé has its origins in the Ivory Coast, where it remains largely popular. This dance music rose also simultaneously in popularity with another genre of music in the Ivory Coast called ndombolo. 

Although coupé-décalé has spread to other countries, Ivory Coast remains its strongest support base. 

  • Makossa

Makossa is a popular urban music style said to have its origins in the Cameroons. The genre has long spread to other countries, including the Congo, where it continues to rise in popularity.

The adherents of the genre are many. Popular figures include Manu Dibango, Kofi Olomide, Sam Fan Thomas, Grace Decca, and Lapiro De Mbanga. 

What do you make of the songs on our list? Are there genres you think we left out? You might wish to join the conversation by dropping your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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