June is African-American Appreciation Music Month in the U.S.A. Started by President Jimmy Carter as ‘Black Music Month’ on June 7th 1979, this annual celebration is dedicated to all of the artists who have shaped our culture as we know it today. Given it’s current name by President Barack Obama in 2009, this time still stands a moment of reflection and appreciation of black people and black culture. So In honour African-American Music Month, we bring you five up and coming African artists you should listen to now, to celebrate the ‘African’ in African-American.
Ever since the release of his banger, ‘Dance’, in 2014, Tekno has risen to become one of the biggest African musicians worldwide. Tekno Miles has released numerous singles, most of which have been hits in Nigeria and worldwide. Tekno’s songs are usually centred around a woman with a catchy name, whom he cannot get his mind off of. (So far, there has been Maria, Diana, Monica, Folake and Genevieve). Tekno was nominated for the ‘Best International Act: Africa’ in the 2017 BET Awards, with his music encapsulating a modern mix of Afrobeats, Afropop, Hip-Hop and RnB.
Back in April 2016, Ayo Jay was featured in Rolling Stone’s “10 New Artists You Need to Know.” He first found success with single, ‘Your Number’ with a blended sound of American Hip-Hop, Afrobeats and Dancehall. Although the song was originally released in 2013, it attained a revival in August 2016 when it reached number 19 on the U.S. RnB Chart. Nominated for the ‘Diaspora Artist’ in the 2016 Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA), we’ll keep our eyes on Ayo Jay to see what other Afro-pop surprises he releases.
British-Nigerian singer, Ezi Emela is an upcoming voice in the afrobeats music scene. In 2017, Emela released the video to her soulful single, Chineke Meh. Chineke Meh, which translated from the Igbo language means ‘Oh my God’, was premiered on BBC1xtra, London, and features a mix of soul, RnB, Trap and Afrobeats. The video features a distinctive African landscape and vibe that compliments the Afrobeat song perfectly.
J Hus is a British-Gambian rap artist associated with the current grime music movement on the British Isles. In 2006, J Hus’s, ‘Solo One’, was featured on the soundtrack of Noel Clarke’s quintessential British film, Brotherhood. A year later, ‘Did You See’, from his Common Sense album, was released and reached number 9 position on the U.K Chart Singles. J Hus’ style features a pronounced Caribbean influence, as well as a distinct Afrobeat and “London” sound.
After collaborating with Drake and Kyla on the 2016 hit, ‘One Dance’, WizKid has moved on from being a continental name, to an international name in his own right. He began as a young wonder in Nigeria, when he was signed in 2009 to Empire Mates Entertainment by fellow Nigerian musician, Banky W’s. Wizkid has become one of the most notable and successful African musicians to date with a clear Afro-beat and an authentic, local Nigerian sound. In 2017 WizKid became the first Nigerian to win a Billboard Music Award, winning three awards for ‘Top Streaming Song’, ‘Top R&B Song’ and ‘Top R&B Collaboration’.