The 10 most influential African artistes of 2020 - Dateline Africa
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The 10 most influential African artistes of 2020

The 10 most influential African artistes of 2020

04 Jan,2021

(London, UK )

Compiled by Daniel Benson, Reginald Owusu, Uche Obafemi

Contributing writers -Dateline Africa News

The year 2020 has been one of the most epic years in the African Music Industry despite the fact that we had to go through a rough patch in terms of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic which caused a huge flux within the borders of Africa and worldwide to be exact.

However, some of these African  singers had to put in tons of effort to attain their position in the music industry while some had to work sleeplessly day and night to take their music to the next level globally which brings us to list the 10 most influential African artistes of 2020.

1Burna Boy – Nigeria 

Damini Ogulu A.K.A Burna Boy is currently one of the heartbeats in the Nigerian music industry when it comes to Afro-pop entertainment.

His music career has not only been witnessed within the borders of Africa, but his voice has been heard across various countries such as the UK and US.

During the 8th month of the year with lots of anticipation from the 29-year old singer, Burna Boy announced his recent project titled “Twice as Tall” which was his fifth studio album with a total number of 11.4million audio streams stateside which was also debuted at number 54 according to the Top 200 Albums Chart.

Nigerian superstar singer Burna Boy has landed his second Grammy nomination thanks to his “Twice As Tall” album.

The singer was nominated under the World Music Album alongside other entertainers like Antibalas, Bebel Gilberto, Anoushka Shankar and Tianariwen.

This is the second year in a row that the singer is getting a nomination in this category.

2.Angélique Kidjo-Benin

Beninese singer-songwriter, actress, and activist Angélique Kidjo won her fourth Grammy at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards for her album ‘Celia’.

The matriarch passed the baton in her acceptance speech saying, “The new generation of artists coming from Africa are going to take you by storm, and the time has come. “Angelique Kidjo . Angélique Kidjo won her fourth Grammy in the Best World Music Album category for her tribute album ‘Celia’.

Released in April last year ‘Celia’ celebrates Cuban salsa singer and icon, Celia Cruz. The Cuban activist helped to construct the legacy of salsa, which is definitively the “melting pot” for Spanish-speaking immigrants who borrowed from the intricacies of Afro-American jazz and vice versa.

The album includes songs spanning all of Cruz’s career reimagined in Afrobeat, “Over ten tracks, Kidjo’s album ‘Celia’ divests itself of the glamour to investigate the African roots of the Cuban-born woman who became the ‘Queen’ of salsa, a music genre invented in New York by Caribbean immigrants,” the album’s official synopsis details.

3.Diamond platnumz- Tanzania 

He was born on the 2nd of October 1989 in Tandale Dar es Salaam to Mr. and Mrs. Juma. His birth name is Nasibu Abdul Juma, and he is a devout Muslim. Diamond Platnumz noticed his interest in music in the year 2000, but his mum insisted he completed his formal education before venturing into the music industry. As a result, he went for his O’levels and graduated in 2006, then told his mum his plans to become a musician.

Diamond is considered influential among his fans and is said to be the most loved and celebrated Tanzanian artist at the moment.

After his secondary school education, Diamond Platinumz spent a better part of his formative years performing covers for both local and international artists in different locations and occasions.

His mother, Sanura Kasimu aka Mama Dangote, supported her talented son by buying albums from different artists and also helped him create lyrics for some of his songs. Additionally, the mother would take them to different competitions and talent shows with the hope that he would get a chance to perform.

Many people have raised a lot of questions about the singer’s fortunes and whether or not he’s the richest artiste in east Africa. After years of speculative reports, it appears that the star could be among the highest earning and most influential artists in East Africa.

He is the most decorated, paid and sought after bongo musician. According to the artiste, he is worth a whopping $4.5 million (Kshs. 460 million), earning him a position as one of the most affluent artistes on the continent.

4.Master KG – South Africa 

Jerusalema first topped South African charts in December last year, but the popularity of the track (and the dance sequence subsequently created by an Angolan dance group) soon spread like wildfire and inspired tributes from the world at large, who embraced the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge during some of the hardest and most stringent months of lockdown, when many of us were feeling down and dubious about the future.

Master KG thoroughly enjoyed the year 2020. It was the year that his song became a global anthem and his name became a household favourite. He has also made some major bucks.

The track Jerusalema, along with the viral challenge that resulted, made Master KG one of Africa’s biggest exports.At the crux of lockdown,  Ramaphosa encouraged South Africans to celebrate Heritage Day by participating in what he described as the “global phenomenon” of the Jerusalema dance. last year. Jerusalema became the most Shazamed song in the world at some point.

The single, which features the incredible vocal stylings of Nomcebo Zikode, has buoyed the spirits of people all over the world during this pandemic, inspiring a signature dance challenge and highlighting the emphasis on community that makes South Africans so spirited and unique.

5. Wizkid -Nigeria 

Wizkid The name ‘Wizkid’ is a famous one in the global music industry. With four studio albums to his  credit, including ‘Made in Lagos’ which has reportedly racked up hundreds  of millions of streams, the artiste born Ayodeji Balogun is widely regarded as one of the  biggest artistes to come out of Africa.

He has won many awards and nominations on every possible platform for his talent and this leaves critics with no option but to acknowledge his success.

With a career, track record and list of endorsements that many of his colleagues can only envy, Wizkid has revealed that he would not have amounted to much if he were not to be doing music, as he was not born with a silver spoon.

On October 30th ,2020 the Nigerian afrobeat superstar ,wizkid finally released his much awaited  album made in Lagos to collective global acclaim

Made in lagos features   a  diverse blend of music with enviable range of vocals ,embodied by renowned artistes in different genres.

6.Koffi Olomide – Congo

Koffi Olomide was born Antoine Christophe Agepa Mumba in Kisangani ,Democratic Republic of Congo on July 13 1958. His father Charles Agbepa is Congolese (from the Gbandi tribe) while his mother Amy is of Sierra Leonean and Congolese descent (Songye tribe from Kasai region).  His mother named him Koffi which means Friday as is the tradition in parts of West Africa where children are named based on the day of the week they are born.

At the time of his birth, Koffi’s mother was in poor health, a condition that was triggered by depression caused by loneliness and isolation. Koffi’s father had abandoned her and was considering leaving his wife and children altogether. She was so depressed that she could not breastfeed newly born Koffi.

To make matters worse, Koffi was in poor health and most people thought he would not survive beyond infancy. He was nicknamed Antoine Makila Mabe (Antoine bad blood).

Even in childhood, he showed signs of being passionate about music. At age 7 he would go around singing a song “Soso ameli Ngando” which means The Chicken has swallowed a Crocodile.

He would sing it so often that it became his nickname. Nobody knows the origin of that song, not even Koffi. By his teens he would simulate songs by famous musicians but add his own spin on them. He was especially enamored with the music of Tabu Ley.

He soon became adept at writing his own songs. One neighbour was so impressed by Koffi’s songwriting skills that he offered to teach him how to play the guitar. Koffi would soon be borrowing the guitar often to practice on his own.

The King of Rhumba, Koffi Olomide, teams up with the Prince of Bongo Flava, Diamond Platnumz, in what is not only a uniquely exciting fusion of styles, but is also a cross-generational collaboration that shows how music transcends time and space.

7.Khaled- Algeria 

Khaled, also known as Cheb Khaled, in full Khaled Hadj Brahim, (born February 29, 1960, Oran, Algeria), Algerian popular singer who introduced Western audiences to raï—a form of Algerian popular music blending North African, Middle Eastern,.

In Europe Khaled strove to increase his music’s appeal, especially among Western audiences, while continuing to work with a variety of musicians representing styles from North Africa, the Middle East, India, and the United States.

The fruits of these collaborations included albums such as Kenza (2000), Ya-Rayi (2004), Liberté (2009), and C’est la vie (2012).and Western traditions. The “King of Rai” has sold over 80.5 million albums worldwide and his 2010 performance of Didi at the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, made him one of the best selling Arabic language artists in history.

Cheb Khaled announced his decision to launch a new song to pay tribute to Lebanon in the wake of the Beirut explosion

8.Davido- Nigeria

The buoyant, trumpeting chords of Fem, the opening track on Davido’s fourth album, A Better Time, suggest an artist who is vivacious, free of self-doubt, revelling in the limelight.

David Adedeji Adeleke, 28, is part of a generation of Afrobeats artists who have blown the African dance-pop genre on to the global stage over the last decade; his songs have become the feelgood soundtrack of Nigeria’s nightlife, and made him one of his continent’s biggest pop stars.

Yet “Fem”, meaning “shut up” in pidgin, has taken on a different meaning. Last month, Lagos governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu pleaded with EndSars protesters, who had taken a stand against police brutality. The largest protest movement in Nigeria for decades had erupted, incensed at the abuses by the infamous and since disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars).

As the protesters outside the government secretariat in Lagos grew impatient, a DJ at the demonstration suddenly played Fem, already a hit across the country. Scores began belting out his lyrics, drowning out the governor’s futile pleas. In a culture where reverence for authority figures can be brutally enforced, protesters recast the song into a defiant statement.

9.Oumou sangare-Mali

Oumou Sangaré’s 2017 return from an eight-year break from music, Mogoya, updated her west African sound with subtly accretive electronica.

The songs took a leap in one direction a year later with a remix album: at the hands of Spoek Mathambo and St Germain, among others, they became rhythmic exercises. Now they move the other way: for the lockdown, Sangaré went into a French studio for a couple of days with a small band and (curiously emphasised) “no headphones” to record these unadorned versions.

The result is the album all her admirers secretly hoped she would make: low on frills, high on energy.

The newer songs shine through clearly in these versions: the bouncing melody of “Kounkoun”, in which Sangaré denounces malicious neighbours as bad millet seeds that cannot be pounded out; the full-throated ire towards womanisers in “Kamelemba”, breaking across the guitar sweet-talking the backing singers; the weary undertow on “Bena Bena” as she sighs over ubiquitous ingratitude.

The happier songs deal with solidarity: the fast funky bounce of “Fadjamou”, a hymn to the extended clans of the Mande region; the mutual support between spouses, between leaders and citizens, between musicians, that tumbles through “Djoukourou”.

The other song not from Mogoya is “Diaraby Nene” (recently sampled by Beyoncé), dating back more than 30 years. Sangaré’s lyrics, written when she was 15, scandalised conservative Malians by singing about the shivers of love; here the song is slowed down, though the kamele ngoni stutters and crunches lustily, and the singing achieves more detachment until, nearly six minutes in, the backing singers explode into ululation and the beat picks up for a speedy, joyful coda.

10.Shatta Wale – Ghana 

It is no surprise that dancehall has found its way into the hearts of fans all over the world.

However, like any other global phenomenon, there will be other players from over the world, showing that they too can play ball. At least one Ghanaian entertainer is firmly stating his claim as The King Of African Dancehall.

Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jr, better known to the world as Shatta Wale has been stating his claim to the prestigious throne for quite a few years.

Beyonce after featuring Shatta Wale on her Lion King album in 2019, followed it with a music film titled Black Is King. The project which is made up of official music videos from the album as well featured Shatta Wale.

In the ‘Already’ video, Shatta Wale was captured with Beyonce. Fans then became shocked as to when and how Shatta Wale met the American singer and that stirred wild reactions online.

Previous collaborations before Vybz Kartel helped pave the way for the brand new single the two men now have together titled, “Mansa Musa Money.” The song is being praised as one of the most celebrated collaborations between African and Jamaican dancehall. A video was scheduled to be done in Dubai and South Africa, however, plans were halted as a result of COVID-19.

References:The FT,the Guardian UK ,the  Guardian Nigeria ,Legit,Urban Island ,The Pulse 

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