Afrobeat is fast becoming one of the most popular music genres in the world. People often joke that they were listening to the genre even before it had a name
Afrobeat has its origins in Nigeria, with Fela and his band of ganja-loving dancers. Not surprisingly, many insists to this day that Nigeria is the home of afrobeats. Also, it is apparent Nigerians top the list of afrobeat artistes in the world.
As you well know, 2020 is almost over, with organizations and individuals taking stock of the year and the people who made it worthwhile. We bring you the top 12 afrobeat artistes this year. The list is in no particular order, if you please.
For one with strong links to Fela, it was inevitable Burna Boy should leap into the world of music and actually emerge as one of the top voices in afrobeat music not just in Nigeria but the world generally.
Not only does Burna Boy spit music, he actually sees himself as one of the finest afrobeat artistes out there. He amplified his position of power with his “African Giant” album. Now he is referred to the title of that body of work.
Not done with being “African Giant,” the songster loudly declaimed greater artistic growth and power with his “Twice As Tall” album. That body of work comes with a cover showing the songster’s head ripping the sky, leaving no one in doubt of the message.
Interestingly, “Twice As Tall” has been described by British GQ Magazine as one of the albums that made 2020 tolerable.
Wizkid is another major voice in afrobeat music. The songster had been compared to Fela, but he had stated that no such comparison should be made because Fela’s shoes are way too big for him.
At any rate, his contribution to Nigeria’s afrobeat revolution is not in doubt. After a protracted delay, this year, Wizkid had released his “Made In Lagos” album, provoking a global burp of pleasure.
That body of work was eventually rated by British GQ Magazine as one of the albums that made 2020 bearable after the coronavirus pandemic messed with the world. Also on the list was Burna Boy’s “Twice As Tall” album. Both are the only Africans on the list.
Another Nigerian! But then this shouldn’t be surprising given the origins of afrobeats. Tiwa savage, fondly called Queen Tiwa, is one of the artistes pushing the afrobeat message to the ends of the earth.
She was formerly with Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records, but moved to Universal Music. She yet retains her position of First Lady at Mavin Records.
The songstress released her third studio album titled “Celia” this year – a shout-out to the woman who wouldn’t give up, to the woman who is fighting her way to the top. By the way, the album, which was listed among Time Magazine’s top ten albums in 2020, was named for Tiwa Savage’s mother. Celia.
United Kingdom-born Julian Nicco-Annan, who goes by the stage name of Juls, is one of afrobeat’s major names. The celebrated disc jockey and producer is considered a pioneering figure in the world of afrobeats in the United Kingdom.
In May 2020, the songster released a two-track compilation with Sango titled “Fufu & Grits.”
Afrobeats has one of its key figures – and also one of its most controversial figures – in Naira Marley. The songster is known as much for his songs as for the wild dances accompanying them
Afro B is another British-born DJ and songwriter driving the afrobeat evolution. The songster, whose birth name is Ross-Emmanuel Bayeto, has got several fine numbers under his belt, including “Drogba (Joanna),” which spawned the “Drogba Challenge.”
Another one for the British. Maleek Berry is a British-Nigerian record producer and mastermind of songs like “Kontrol” abd “Bend It.” He rates high in the afrobeat universe.
It is inevitable Femi Kuti should make this list. The songster is a son to the late Fela Kuti – said to be the originator of the genre and also one of its strongest voices yet. Femi Kuti has managed to not only leave his father’s shadows but also create a world all his own.
Today he is justly recognized as one of afrobeat’s major voices.
The YBNL boss, who was born in the Bariga area of Lagos, has emerged as one of afrobeat’s major voices, bringing a party to the soul of the genre. He is noted for, among others, “Totori,” “Motigbana” and “Woske.”
David Adeleke, who goes by the stage name of Davido, is one of the voices driving the afrobeat revolution. He released “A Good Time” album in 2019 and followed it up with “A Better Time” this year, a compilation of boundless energy that will delight the afrobeat crowd out there.
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo is the legal name of the songster known professionally as D’Banj. The “Tongolo” star might not be heavy on the bars these days but is justifiably one of afrobeat’s major voices.
Unarguably the youngest on this list, Divine Ikubor, who is known professionally as Rema, is quietly emerging as one of the finest voices in afrobeats in Nigeria and globally. The songster joined Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records in 2019 and has been making big leaps as an artiste since.
In 2019, he released “Iron Man,” which made it to the former United States president Barack Obama’s summer playlist.
At the time of his signing to Mavin Records, label boss Don Jazzy has boasted that the songster would infuse the afrobeats scene with a new life. Looking back, his predictions are coming to pass.
Well, are there artistes you think we left out? Indeed, lists are subjective. But then some of afrobeat’s finest voices manage to find some representation on our list of 12.
What do you think of the artistes on our list? Would you have adopted them as well, or perhaps your list would have looked different? You’re welcome to share your thoughts in the comment section below.