Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Top Afrobeats songs of 2023 | Music In Africa – Music In Africa


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The world is looking to Africa for the next phase of pop’s evolution. Enter Afrobeats, which last year completed the journey to becoming a leading world sound. Now a staple among audiences beyond the shores of West Africa, where it originated, it’s full steam ahead, and powered by a colourful pool of trusted veterans and exciting newcomers, Afrobeats continues its global ascent and dominance.
The sound’s infectious drums and percussion honour traditional influences, but also welcomes sonic innovation from everywhere. In 2022, the South African dance rhythm amapiano turned out to be the most notable element of the ongoing Afrobeats experiment. That trend seems to have carried over into the New Year, which is already churning out rich party jams and anthems.
Welcome to Music In Africa’s recurring curation of the top Afrobeats songs of the year. As per usual, this playlist, covering songs from across the continent, will be updated throughout the year to reflect the latest and most notable releases. 
‘Amapiano’ by Asake ft. Olamide
Taken off his sophomore album Work of Art, ‘Amapiano’, which guests label boss Olamide, deepens Asake’s ongoing, boundary-pushing Fuji-pop experiment that beautifully marries Afrobeats and amapiano.

‘Charm’ by Rema
The salacious ‘Charm’ is one of six additional tracks on the deluxe version of Rema’s debut album Rave & Roses. While he boasts the biggest pop song globally in ‘Calm Down’, the new single demonstrates its author as not one to rest on his laurels.

‘Unavailable’ by Davido ft. Musa Keys
Packaged in joyful amapiano, ‘Unavailable’ finds Davido at his nonchalant best, celebrating major accomplishments, and the value of privacy. Protege Musa Keys’ syrupy vocals serve as a glorious counterpoint to Davido’s signature raspy delivery. 

Soso by Omah Lay 
This aching record is taken from Omah Lay’s groundbreaking debut album Boy Alone. Quintessential Afrobeats, the record summons nostalgic rhythms and caters to dance – never mind that the messaging is much darker.

‘Rich Till I Die’ by Kizz Daniel
‘Buga’ hitmaker Kizz Daniel picks up right where he left off last year, as one of Afrobeat’s foremost merchants at work today. Buga invites listeners to set aside their blues and head over to the dance floor. Its successor finds its author basking in the spoils of his efforts. 

‘Ghetto Love’ by Camidoh
Ghanaian crooner Camidoh is best known for ‘Sugarcane’, likely Ghana’s most important contribution to Afrobeats. Not one to rest on his laurels, he has swiftly issued an EP titled A Lifetime Is Not Enough for 2023. The project is his second collection, and follows 2020’s Contingency Plan. The upbeat, sax-filled ‘Ghetto Love’ is taken from the new project. 

‘Asiwaju’ by Ruger 
Ruger brings a unique dancehall bend to the mix, one that has made him an undisputed darling among the female constituency. On ‘Asiwaju’, the delicate singer brags about his stature in all of this. Afrobeats is winning and Ruger is sure to indent his place.

‘People’ by Libianca
Cameroonian singer Libianca has harnessed the viral power of TikTok and the appeal of mellow melodies to (re)introduce herself to Afrobeats’ mainstream. ‘People’, the song she has to thank for her newfound relevance, addresses themes of pain and depression, and masking all of that behind lovely smiles. 

‘Abracadabra’ by Rexxie, Naira Marley and Skiibi
Nigerian producer Rexxie, who has worked with notable popstars including the Grammy-winning Burna Boy, enlists Naira Marley and Skiibi for ‘Abracadabra’, which manages to capture the rare street playfulness responsible for propelling a long list of artists to chart success (see Olamide, Zlatan, et al). 

‘Shut Up’ by KiDi ft. Tulsi Kuma
Ghanaian singer KiDi’s ‘Touch It’ is a gift that keeps on giving. Originally released in 2021, off his album The Golden Boy, the record has charted endlessly, and spawned multiple updates. First, it was US rapper Tyga. Now, Indian music star Tulsi Kuma joins the fray, offering a fresh verse on the tune, which, on this occasion, has been renamed ‘Shut Up’. 

Body & Soul by Joeboy
Joeboy loves a good love story and has excelled at love songs. A growing catalogue including two collections (an EP and an album) bears witness. The E Kelly-produced ‘Body & Soul’ is his latest offering. 

‘Ta Ta Ta’ by Bayani
In August last year, Nigeria label Mavin Records named emerging singer Bayanni as its latest signing. The announcement was accompanied by a four-track eponymous EP. Focus track ‘Ta Ta Ta’, which mimics the sound of pair-bonding, has proven to be a sleeper hit, picking up steam and growing in demand in 2023. 

‘Obaa Hemaa’ by Skyface SDW ft. O’Kenneth, Reggie, Beeztrap KOTM, Kwaku DMC and Jay Bahd.
On ‘Obaa Hemaa’, Ghanaian rapper Skyface SDW celebrates a love interest, calling on a number of his label mates, who are also celebrated as flagbearers of the country’s drill scene. 

‘Ojapiano’ by Kcee
The selling point of the comeback offering by Kcee, the artist famous for hits like 2013’s ‘Limpopo’, lies in its innovative incorporation of the oja flute, a popular instrument among the Igbo ethnic group in southeastern Nigeria. This unique blend with the in-vogue amapiano rhythm has resulted in a refreshing addition to the pop music scene, ultimately revitalising Kcee’s brand.

‘Butta My Bread’ by JZyNo ft. Lasmid
Liberian pop singer Jzyno strikes gold with this single, his breakout single that guests Ghanaian counterpart Lasmid. Although the song’s subject matter revolves around the commonly used theme of love, the music itself shines with a catchy melody and captivating hook.

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