There is no place like Africa. She is a fierce continent who has shared so much beauty, talent, and creation with the world. She awakens all the human senses: her diverse cultures and natural wonders are a sight to behold; her assorted cuisines a pleasure to taste; and her biodiverse flora and fauna a delight to smell. 

The last two senses — to hear and feel — Africa can deliver to you wherever you are in the world, thanks to the talent of her daughters and sons. That’s why, this Africa Day, we are celebrating the sounds that Africa has brought to the world. 

Africa’s music is not only charismatic and easy to fall in love with, it also comes in a huge range of genres and boasts the best of its different cultures. So it’s bound to either get you feeling something or moving on the dance floor — everything you’d want from your daily playlist, right?

This Africa Day, however, we’re not only celebrating music. We’re also applauding some of the continent’s musicians who are making Africa proud today, and continuing to put the continent on the map. In fact, as you’re reading this article, you can dive into our Africa Day Spotify playlist and let it play in the background or get you grooving wherever you are.

For too long Africa has been defined by the poverty it has experienced, the pitying eyes of the world falling on the continent as, globally, people forget that Africa is so much more than the poverty it’s faced with. 

In fact, a lot of global trends in fashion, art, music, design, and more, came from Africa. The continent is bursting with talent, intellect, and creative potential that needs to be uplifted and saluted; as it is investment in these qualities that will help to boost development of the African continent. 

To create our 2022 Africa Day playlist, we asked Global Citizens to share their favourite artists, as well as hearing from a few Global Citizen Africa colleagues and an industry expert at Sowetan S Magazine — so read on to find out which artists we’re celebrating this Africa Day, and what those who recommended them said about their music.

1. Riky Rick

Recommended by the Global Citizen Africa Team and Global Citizens

This year South Africa and the world lost a music icon whose talent not only shone through on music playlists and radio charts, but transcended the worlds of fashion, art, and design. This Africa Day will be three months since rapper Riky Rick’s death, and in light of the brilliance that he brought to the world, we wanted to kick off this list by remembering and saluting him.

He was an artist respected and loved across the country, and who was never afraid to show the world exactly what he was made of. 

2. Sino Msolo

Emmanuel Tjiya, Sowetan S Magazine Editor

In particular, the song, “Jola” by De Mthuda, that features Sino Msolo and Da Muziqal Chef. 

Penned and performed by the masterful Sino Msolo, the lyrics explore the romantic feelings of an innocent young man, bragging to his friends that he finally found love. As someone who grew up in the township, we all know that one guy (coming-of-age) who has been unlucky in love, and then when they finally find someone, they brag to the entire street. 

This amapiano song is not only representative of kasi (local South African township) power, but it also serves as a true testament of Gen Z and Millennials moving from toxic to positive masculinity by being vulnerable and authentic about their emotions. It’s something Africa should celebrate on Africa Day. It also lends itself nicely that Msolo sings it in a soft and simple register, making it sound effortlessly cool. The throbbing beat gives it that extra bit of swagger.

3. Msaki

Thato Noinyane, Senior Digital Campaigns Manager, Global Citizen

I’m really surprised at how challenging this question was to answer because there are so many musicians completely kicking ass on our continent! 

I mean there’s Grammy award winners, international collaborations, artists taking our genres to the world… just so much talent. I would however like to highlight Msaki. “Indie” singer-songwriter, multi-disciplinary artist, and an all-round dope Black woman, who not only has the most incredible voice, but uses her music to express what I’ve certainly struggled to express myself: the complete tragedy that is our country right now (South Africa).

She has popular house and amapiano hits that we’ve all jammed to but I love that she uses music to fight injustice, and to fight for her music in a country that does not value artists and their artistry. In a country that has an amazing constitution but is littered with so much that should not be happening.

4. Lordkez

Khanyi Mlaba, Editor and Content Manager, Global Citizen

Going through the list of artists that Global Citizens recommended to add to our playlist for this year, for a moment I felt that I had nothing more to add — and that’s a testament to the excellent music taste that our Global Citizens have!

That’s why I wanted to spotlight an artist who’s up and coming, and whose voice and lyrics define what it means to be an independent woman living freely, and who does not need (or desire) the approval of other people. Lordkez is coming up hot, and I feel like her sound is just what the continent and the world needs right now. 

5. Burna Boy

Voted for by Global Citizens

Of course we would never leave Burna Boy off this list, are you kidding? His name is one that Global Citizens shared multiple times to add to this list, and we’re more than happy to oblige. 

Not only is he a Grammy winning artist, but he is the first Nigerian artist to not only headline, but to have a sold out concert at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden. He’s also taken to the Global Citizen stage a couple of times to perform at One World: Together At Home and Global Citizen Live in 2021, and clearly, we just can’t get enough of him. 

6. Uncle Waffles

Voted for by Global Citizens

If you want to get moving on the dancefloor, Waffles is who you’re looking for. She has steadily become a household name in South Africa with her energetic performances and her dynamic sounds. She’s also been getting loads of international attention having been shouted out by artists like Drake

Waffles is a DJ whose music had South Africa grooving through various lockdowns, and is now booking venues across the continent and around the world. 

7. WizKid

Voted for by Global Citizens

We’re not sure exactly how ready the world was for WizKid in 2021, because the artist came to knock us off our feet, light up playlists everywhere, and remind the world just what Nigeria is made of. Selling out London’s O2 Arena twice, and being nominated for a Grammy Award, WizKid definitely deserves his place on this list. 

Not to mention, we couldn’t go a day in 2021 without hearing his song “Essence” playing on the radio, in the background of social media videos, or simply as the welcome earworm that we didn’t realise we were singing in the middle of the work day. 

8. Black Coffee

Voted for by Global Citizens

South Africa was on its feet as DJ Black Coffee accepted his very first Grammy Award in 2022, the win trended all day on social media and the country could not hide its pride. In fact, he’s the first African to win a Grammy in the category of Best Dance/Electronic Album.

In his career he has not only collaborated with some of the best musicians that Africa has to provide, including WizKid, Bucie, and Shekhinah, but he has also worked with globally famous musicians such as Drake, Pharrell Williams, Usher, and David Guetta. 

9. Tems

Voted for by Global Citizens

You wouldn’t believe that Tems is defined as a breakout star with the way she has taken the world by storm. She’s a new artist whose voice helped to make WizKid’s “Essence” the hit that it became.

Her own music is making waves and, just this month, she became the first African woman to have a song sit at number one on the Billboard charts. There’s no doubt she has so much more in store and we cannot wait to hear everything she has to give. 

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Get the Playlist: 9 Musicians Who Are Making Africa Proud, According to Global Citizens

By Khanyi Mlaba