Photo courtesy of the artist.
The Best Afrobeats Songs Right Now
Featuring tracks from Rema, Sarkodie x Ruger, Blaqbonez, Shallipopi, ODUMODUBLVCK, Gyakieand more.
Afrobeats is one of the biggest cultural movements in the world. Influencing everything from fashion to sports, the music acts as the adhesive, catching on to listeners of all demographics and shaping the scene in Africa with great potential. With the growing number of new Afrobeats releases every month, it becomes necessary to round up the best of the bunch. From singles to new music videos, the continent’s vast expanse will be covered in our "Best Afrobeats Songs Out Right Now" column. Get started below.
Rema "Smooth Criminal"
Rema has been stepping more into his role as Afrobeats next great torchbearer. As is evident in his songs, Rema has been more welcoming towards embracing that braggadocio that comes so naturally to rappers, wrapped lovingly around his firebrand, sensual style. “Smooth Criminal” is one of the standouts from his stellar new RAVAGE EP. Dubbing himself the Prince of Afrobeats among other self-affirming images, it’s an energetic record which taps from the irresistible consciousness of the late pop king, but with an afro twist that necessitates several head bumps.
Sarkodie "Till We Die" feat. Ruger
Sarkodie has incorporated features into his music so much it’s become an art form in his hands. Across the continent, the veteran Ghanaian musician has cherry picked the most talented voices to advance his vision, and on this tender love record it’s the dulcet-voiced Ruger who supplies the extra sheen. Over reverberating production that oozes coolness, both artists go back and forth about the things they’ll do for their respective women. It’s a signature theme in afropop but novelty emerges here from the incisive entry points of each artist, how they hone into their strengths to deliver one of the most potent rap-pop collabs this year has witnessed.
Blaqbonez "Naija Shawty" feat. Victony
Hands down, Blaqbonez has one of the most successful evolution stories in Afrobeats. Starting out as a battle-tested rapper, he’s now creating some of the most transcendental pop music from the current crop of artists, expressing the colors of young experience in flagrant language. His new album Emeka Must Shine bares his growth in concise form, as we hear on this buzzing collaboration with Victony. Tapping a smooth dancehall production, both artists skate with brilliance, unfurling tales from their long days traveling and meeting women, even though their loyalty to home remains without a doubt. It’s a short narrative with pop-tilted depth that keeps the listener returning, but in fact, it is the entire album that is streaked with sonic gems.
Shallipopi "Things On Things"
Since the start of this year, few musicians have impacted the Afrobeats soundscape like Shallipopi. Emerging with a slew of energetic, percussions-based records, he’s morphed into a cultural presence with his depiction of his native Edo culture, while championing the journey of other artists. On “Things On Things,” he collects the signature elements of his sound while tightening his grasp on the awareness of his songwriting, a fine choice which makes the song a cocktail of heartfelt emotions. With lyrics like “lesson learnt is a lesson learnt, you no fit insult my intelligence,” it’s a charged record that reiterates the musician’s blazing path to success.
ODUMODUBLVCK, Bloody Civilian & Wale "BLOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR"
Undeniable — that’s the word that best describes ODUMODUBLVCK. For half a decade, the Abuja-bred rapper was cutting his teeth beneath the mainstream, but with his moment he emerges fierce, torch in his hand, a proud son of the cultural muchness that characterizes Nigeria. On his mixtape EZIOKWU he reaffirms the confidence in his artistry that’s been a defining subject matter, with fine touches of storytelling. “BLOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR” is such a song, from the rapper’s braggadocious opening verse to Bloody Civilian’s birdsong and Wale’s technical showoff, it’s a perfect Afrobeats track.
BNXN "Pidgin & English"
Acclaimed as one of the most impressive songwriters in the Nigerian pop scene, BNXN has been embracing his fuller skills as a songmaker and on his debut album Sincerely, Benson, that level of artistic growth is more evident than ever. Across the well-realized album, few songs demonstrate this better than “Pidgin & English,” where he unfurls two immaculately-written verses on either side of a sample from British band Magic’s “Regrets”. His character is going through the bone-crushing aftermath of a breakup, and the imagery, of missing her lying in his sheets and seeking an offer he can't refuse, it’s a song destined to live forever.
WIZARD CHAN "MOSES" feat. Boma Nime
One of the most exciting artists Afrobeats has witnessed in a while, Wizard Chan is art personified. Inspired by the meditative rhythms of reggae music but also the dynamic sounds of southern Nigeria where he is from, his records are conscious while being deeply enjoyable, touching a rare spot in the heart’s ventricles. “Moses” is an enlightening record, speaking to the desire to freedom even while sometimes one's own hindrance is themselves, and the visual depicts that internal tension so brilliantly, with fierce color and sensitive passion. The chorus is sung in his native Ijaw and features a folkloric twist, which is where Afrobeats has been heading towards for a while now; the soulful prospects of locality.
Krizbeatz ft. Bella Shmurda, Rayvanny & Wave Choir “Wild Party - ADM Remix”
The vision of Afrobeats is alive and vibrant, and Krizbeatz is one of its most purposeful custodians. After releasing the King of the New Wave project early this year, the veteran producer has now rolled out a forward-facing deluxe, matching the collaborative vivacity of its original with signature flourishes of his African Dance Music (ADM) sound. On the remix of “Wild Party,” the voices are put to better use, the lilting vocals of Bella Shmurda meeting the bubbly cadences of Rayvanny, while the electro-evoking Wave Choir imbibes its new dimension.
Gyakie "Rent Free"
Luscious, full vocals have been the signature features of Gyakie ever since she broke into the scene some years ago. Those qualities are further accentuated by her grasp of the ebbs within the Ghanaian language, giving her songs a homeward appeal while shining with obvious far-reaching influences. On her new song “Rent Free,” she scores a potential hit song, combining the tones of the Ghana azonto percussion with electronic flourishes. An exhilarating love affair supplies the record’s gravitas, and paired with the affecting, crowd-evoking songwriting, everything else—the production, visuals, the overlying tenderness—works to make this an immediate all-time record from the talented singer.
Skales & Mohamed Ramadan "Case Closed"
Cross-country collaborations have been one of the dominant aspects of the Afrobeats culture. Skales, for close to a decade, has been one of the champions of this artistic relationship, taking his sound far in the search for sonic fullness. On “Case Closed,” a song off his new project Proof of Life, the musician joins forces with the Egyptian rapper Mohamed Ramadan. A groovy number, it’s a fine merging of two distinct sensibilities, proving, with exhilarating candor, that a good time means the same thing regardless of place or language.
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