One thing we can all agree on at this point is that African music is a global powerhouse. From TikTok “For You” pages, to festivals and dance floors across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the rest of the world, African music is showing up and delivering all the vibes.
Recently, African music has grown in leaps and bounds with artists breaking records and bringing the joy of the motherland to the world. The past few years have been especially incredible for African music, with musicians stunning the globe in the late 2010’s, and now dominating local and international charts in the 2020’s — and we think that is definitely worth celebrating.
Against the backdrop of the recently announced Move Afrika: Rwanda, A Global Citizen Experience (pssst… it is happening on Dec. 6 at the BK Arena in Kigali, so take action and get your tickets!) we wanted to share a list of African artists whose global successes in recent years have shown how much of a powerhouse African music is.
1. Tyla, South Africa
Born Tyla Laura Seethal in Johannesburg, South Africa, 21 year old Tyla (pronounced “TIE-Luh”) has been one of the continent’s musical revelations of 2023. Her viral song “Water” is a global hit and the song’s coinciding viral dance challenge has seen the hit peak at number 21 on the Billboard 100 Chart, making her the youngest South African artist to ever appear on the chart.
Additionally, the singer, who counts Rihanna and Tems as her idols, has also been nominated in the Best African Music Performance category at the upcoming 66th Grammy Awards and even made her American TV debut on the Jimmy Fallon Show. We love to see Africa’s young people thriving on the global stage and we can’t wait to see Tyla’s continued success!
2. Burna Boy, Nigeria
Burna Boy performs onstage during Global Citizen Live in New York on Sept. 25, 2021.
Friend of Global Citizen, and dubbed by the Grammy’s as Afrobeats’ biggest superstar, Burna Boy continues his formidable Grammy run with four nominations for Best African Music Performance, Best Melodic Rap Performance, Best Global Music Album and Best Global Music Performance at the upcoming 2024 Grammy Awards.
The self-styled African Giant, who performed at Global Citizen Live: New York in 2021, has also become the first Afrobeats artist to headline a stadium show in the UK and is also the first African artist to perform at the UEFA Champions League Final show — talk about putting Afrobeats on the map.
3. Davido, Nigeria
Davido performs at Global Citizen Live in Lagos on Sept. 18, 2021.
Timeless, Davido’s fourth studio album, has broken several records since its March 2023 release. It broke the record for the largest debut week on Apple Music Nigeria and also set the record for the most-streamed African album in a single day on Apple Music. The 17-track project also became the first African album to hit the top of the US iTunes chart.
All of this has come off the back of Davido performing at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, becoming the first African artist to perform at a world cup held outside the African continent. Davido, who performed at Global Citizen Live: Lagos in 2021, also has three nominations for the upcoming Grammy Awards in the Best Global Album, Best African Music Performance, and Best Global Music Performance categories.
4. Black Sherif, Ghana
It’s almost hard to believe that Black Sherif’s career started less than five years ago. Since the release of his single “First Sermon”, the 21-year-old Ghanaian rapper and singer has only grown in leaps and bounds.
Since the release of his single “Kwaku the Traveller” in March 2022, Black Sherif has continued to garner accolade after accolade. The song reached number one on the Apple Music Nigeria and Ghana charts, catapulting him onto the world stage in the process.
After the release of his debut album The Villain I Never Was in October 2022, Black Sherif has gone on to become the first Ghanaian act to perform at the Wireless Festival in the UK. He also won the Best International Flow award at the 2023 BET Hip-Hop Awards and performed at the 25th anniversary of the MOBO Awards in early 2023.
5. Rema, Nigeria
In Sept. 2022, seven months after the release of the original version of Rema’s “Calm Down” a remix of the song, which featured Selena Gomez, entered the Billboard 100 US charts. It would remain on the chart, widely regarded as the most prestigious music leaderboard in the world, for the next 57 weeks, setting a record for the longest charting and most successful African song of all time.
The song also peaked at number three on the chart making it the highest charting song in which an Afrobeats artist is the main artist. The song’s YouTube video, which has 673 million views at the time of publishing, is also the most watched music video of all time by an African artist.
At just 23-years-old, Rema also became the first African artist to perform at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in the 67-year history of the football award. He is really showing that the future of African music as a global powerhouse is something to be excited about, and we love to see it!
6. Amaarae, Ghana
Looking ahead to the future, Ghana’s Amaarae is an artist that will elevate Africa’s status as a global music powerhouse in the coming years. Her unique style of R&B and Afropop, which she calls Afrofuturism, is already making waves around the world and has landed her a major music label deal with Interscope.
Her second album Fountain Baby is definitely a favorite among the professional dancer community and has taken her career to new heights. The project was also in consideration for a nomination at the upcoming 2024 Grammy Awards.
Afrobeats might be the most popular genre Africa is known for globally, but there are hundreds of other genres from the continent which incredible artists like Amaarae are taking to the global stage — and we are here for it.
The Move Afrika: Rwanda campaign aims to promote stronger health systems as a pathway to promoting equity. We’re also calling on world leaders to defend our planet and its inhabitants, and to create jobs and economic opportunity. Make sure you take action to earn tickets or you can purchase them to join us at the BK Arena in Kigali for a one-of-a-kind experience. Everything you need to know about the event is right here.