2019 is in the books and we’ve tried as much (and as quick) as possible to whittle down the music we’ve enjoyed to our favorites. It turned out that, between four guys, we had a loooot of them — in spite of overlaps! In the end, we agreed to pick out a few major trends, group songs accordingly, and think about what we wish to
seehear in 2020. As I wrote earlier, we intend to get more in-depth about it later in the month. For now, consider this the second part of an extended summary.
African Pop Has Gone Global
I might be overstating it, but we should celebrate our victories and small gains whenever and wherever we get them. Just to recap, 2019 saw Afrobeats (by way of Davido of Nigeria and Afro B of Côte d’Ivoire via UK) become a mainstay on the American pop charts. Then there was the Beyoncé Lion King project that recruited some of our stars from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. Added to “The Year of Return” tourism genius and the Black Panther after effects from 2018, and you have a greater (albeit narrow) interest for African Pop music.
Does this mean more African artists will cross over? I sure think so! Doesn’t this seem like a fad? I think so as well. What we shouldn’t forget is that our pop stars made a dent into the American market, not by diluting their music to entice the West, but by catering to their African public. The diaspora have shown ardent support, and ceased any opportunity to shine a positive light on the vibes from back home. So if Afrobeats goes the way of reggaeton, then so be it. At least the ride is well worth it. There’s a lot of quality and untapped potential for the music to develop and open new avenues for artistic expression, exposure and revenue!
In my humble opinion, African artists stand to make much more appealing music with their Carribean, Latin American and Latinx peers. (After all, it’s been a tried and tested formula for decades!) Still, I understand the logic behind the constant overtures to the American market — and by extension, why it works less with the so-called “urban music” artist in Europe.
At the end of the day, we’ve just scratched the surface. By definition, Pop music is an amalgalm of different genres and sub-genres. Afrobeats (and African Pop at large) have a seemingly bottomless pit of native sounds, slangs, styles, and techniques (past, present and future) to tap from. By force, by fire, we will prevail!
Pick your preferred platform for the playlist
02. Beyoncé, Shatta Wale & Major Lazer ::: ALREADY
03. Burna Boy ::: Killin Dem (feat. Zlatan)
04. Naira Marley ::: Soapy
05. Teni ::: Billionaire
06. Wiley, Stefflon Don & Sean Paul ::: Boasty (feat. Idris Elba)
07. ROSALÍA & J Balvin ::: Con Altura (feat. El Guincho)
08. KAROL G & Nicki Minaj ::: Tusa
09. Ozuna ::: Baila Baila Baila
10. Koffee ::: Rapture
11. Olamide, Wizkid & ID Cabasa ::: Totori
12. Fireboy DML ::: Jealous
13. Joeboy ::: Baby
14. Nviiri The Storyteller ::: Pombe Sigara
15. Tems ::: Try Me
16. Beyoncé, SAINt JHN, Wizkid & Blue Ivy Carter ::: BROWN SKIN GIRL
17. Ya Levis ::: Mbangu te
18. Ariel Sheney ::: Amina
19. Maabo ::: Al Xayri
20. Semi Tee ::: Labantwana Ama Uber (feat. Miano & Kammu Dee)
21. Zero12Finest ::: Baby Are You Coming?
22. Samthing Soweto ::: Akulaleki (feat. Sha Sha, DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small)
23. Davido & Chris Brown ::: Blow My Mind
24. Rema ::: Dumebi
25. IVD ::: Bolanle (feat. Zlatan)
26. Naira Marley ::: PXTA
27. Naira Marley & Young Jonn ::: Mafo
28. Diamond Platnumz ::: Baba Lao
29. Innoss’B ::: Yo Pe (Remix feat. Diamond Platnumz)
30. Stonebwoy ::: Ololo (feat. Teni)
31. Teni ::: Power Rangers
32. Dave ::: Location (feat. Burna Boy)
33. J Hus ::: Must Be
34. DARKOO & One Acen ::: Gangsta
35. Amaarae ::: LIKE IT
36. Santi ::: RX-64 (The Jungle) (feat. KrisIrie)
37. Koffee ::: Toast
38. Burna Boy ::: Anybody
39. DJ Spinall ::: Dis Love (feat. Wizkid & Tiwa Savage)
40. Rayvanny ::: Tetema (feat. Diamond Platnumz)
41. Nandy ::: Kiza Kinene (feat. Sauti Sol)
42. Diamond Platnumz ::: Inama (feat. Fally Ipupa)
43. Wizkid ::: Joro
44. Timaya ::: I Can’t Kill Myself
45. Citi Lyts ::: Cel’ukuthi (feat. RED BUTTON, Gigi Lamayne & Touchline)
46. AJ Tracey ::: Ladbroke Grove
A little note:
This playlist is derived from a master list compiled by Commish Elom, Wraith Yoshi, It’s Just Sen and myself. Commish Elom, Hopiho, It’s Just Sen, Wraith Yoshi and a super fan contributed additional insights.