Eromo Egbejule picks five acts dominating the continent’s music scene this year
Yemi Alade, Nigeria
A protégé of iconic Nigerian producer OJB Jezreel, Yemi Alade has grown in leaps and bounds since winning a talent show as a teenager in 2009.
She was Africa’s breakout star in 2014 thanks to her smash hit Johnny, about a search for a cheating lover. A year after its release, the song is still being played across the continent and her music video has racked up over 12 million views on YouTube.
Her debut album, King of Queens, includes the hit track Kissing, a modern retelling of a popular nursery rhyme, and Pose, a collaboration with the Ghanaian supergroup R2Bees, heralded her as major competition on the continent.
At just 25, she’s set to continue ruling the airwaves in the coming years.
Yemi Alade - Johnny
Less popularly known as Kwame Ametepee Tsikata, this Ghanaian is currently the foremost rapper on the continent. However, the MC is yet to hit peak, despite a top collaboration with South Africa’s celebrated producer Hip Hop Pantsula.
No Shortcut to Heaven, his new hit with hip-life star Obrafour is a prime example of M.anifest’s storytelling. Rapping in both in Twi and English, he has already recorded with heavyweights across the globe from Damon Albarn to Flea (of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers), the drummer Tony Allen and Erykah Badu.
M.anifest - No Shortcut to Heaven
Cassper Nyovest, South Africa
Cassper Nyovest had a stellar year in 2014, and true to form the Mafikeng rapper has already started 2015 with a bang, launching a new collaboration with the eccentric singer Toya DeLazy, hoping to consolidate on the success of his debut album Tsholofelo, which sold more than 500,000 copies in his home country.
His monster hit, the hard-hitting Doc Shebeleza, was a summer rap anthem last year, only topped by the Talib Kweli remix that followed soon after. A leading light of the new African rap scene he can switch his flow from watered-down mainstream hiphop to hardcore rap in the blink of an eye.
Cassper Nyovest - Doc Shebeleza
Patoranking is the new king of Nigerian dancehall, make no mistake. The 24-year-old’s Girlie O, a song that about rescuing his lover from a physically abusive partner, catapulted him into the limelight only to cement his popularity with a remix by pop queen Tiwa Savage.
His lyrics preach spirituality, morality and sociopolitical issues - a rarity among many of his peers. His bohemian style has seen him grow a massive fan base, and the hype around him shows no signs of abating. So much so, that he’s since dubbed himself “the next big thing after Bob Marley”...
Patoranking – Girlie O remix by Tiwa Savage.
Singing since she was only eight years old, Esi – born Elizabeth Esi Awotwi – launched her professional career when she won Talented Kids, Ghana’s top TV singing competition, securing her a record deal.
In 2014 she opened for Lauryn Hill’s concert in Accra, and in 2015 she’ll be performing alongside some of the best contemporary African musicians – from Nigeria’s Wande Coal and Ice Prince – at the SXSW Music Festival in Los Angeles in March. She’s only 15.
Esi - Dreams
Who are you listening to in 2015? Give us your tips in the comments below
(Image Credit: African Entertainment)
This article was first published in The Guardian.