The Best East African Songs of 2023 So Far
Featuring Joshua Baraka, Boutross, Zuchu, BIEN, Vinka, Mauimøon, Mobosso and many more.
The year has seen an impressive surge in the achievements of East African artists, as they transcend boundaries, engage in exciting collaborations, and elevate the overall quality of their music releases. The music scene has been ablaze with exceptional talent and groundbreaking creativity, showcasing the unity and diversity that African music embodies. Here, we present a selection of the finest East African songs that have made a resounding impact this year.
In 2023, these East African artists have undeniably raised the bar, captivating both local and international audiences with their incredible music and collaborations. With these records, they continue to push boundaries and contribute to the ever-evolving landscape of African music.
Stay up to date on the latest East African music with our monthly Best East African Songs Right Now column.
Joshua Baraka "NANA Remix" ft. Joeboy, King Promise & BIEN
Joshua Baraka, riding the wave of success from his chart-topping single, embarked on an epic collaboration with major talents from Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. The all-star remix of "Nana" unites Joeboy, King Promise, and Bien from Sauti Sol. This rendition of the single masterfully merges the vibrant musical landscapes of West and East Africa, celebrating the unity and rich diversity of African music.
Boutross "Angela" ft. Juicee Mann
Kicking off the vibrant year of 2023, the highly-talented Kenyan rapper and shrap pioneer, Boutross, electrified the music scene with the release of his track titled "Angela." Combining the best of dancehall influences with his signature ‘shrap’ style, Boutross crafted a record that instantly captivated audiences far and wide. The infectious energy and pulsating beats of "Angela" have quickly transformed it into an anthem that is impossible to resist, making it an essential addition to playlists at parties, clubs, and events throughout the region. As the song gained traction, it swiftly became a sensation on social media platforms, particularly on TikTok, where it sparked a viral dance challenge that took Kenya and beyond by storm.
A clear standout from the East African music scene in 2023 is Zuchu's mesmerizing track "Utaniua." The Tanzanian songstress showcases her exceptional vocal prowess and emotional depth in this heartfelt ballad. "Utaniua" captivates listeners with its soul-stirring lyrics and the raw vulnerability in Zuchu's delivery. The song struck a chord with audiences, earning widespread acclaim and solidifying Zuchu's position as one of the region's most talented and promising artists. With its haunting melody and powerful storytelling, "Utaniua" has undoubtedly been one of the unforgettable highlights of the year so far.
Ugandan artist Mauimoon's song "Supahawt" from his project, From Uganda with Love, showcases a lively and upbeat rhythm that blends African beats with modern electronic sounds. Mauimoon's smooth and soulful vocals seamlessly intertwine with the beat, creating an electrifying fusion. The project has gained significant attention, earning Mauimoon the prestigious title of Apple Music: East Africa Up Next Artist.
Bien "My Baby" ft. Ayra Starr
Kenyan artist Bien joined forces with Nigerian Afropop princess Ayra Starr for their enchanting single "My Baby." The lyrics express deep love and admiration for their partners, highlighting their unwavering support. The seamless vocal blend of both artists, with Ayra Starr's smooth and emotive voice complementing Bien's soulful delivery, adds to the captivating appeal of the song. This track is still on our lips five months later.
Tanzania's Mbosso enchants once again with his latest harmonious anthem "Amepotea." With melodic instrumentals that warm the heart, this blockbuster track is a must-add to your playlist. Sung entirely in Swahili, the song ventures into the realm of loss and longing, delving into the depths of the human experience with heartfelt sincerity. Following the success of his KHAN' EP acoustic project, Mbosso leaves an indelible mark on listeners with this new single.
Harmonize "Single Again"
Tanzanian bongo flava star Harmonize maintained his ‘bongo-piano’ streak with the upbeat track "Single Again." Through heartfelt lyrics sung in English, Harmonize reflects on the challenges of moving on after a relationship ends and the difficulties of starting over. With its catchy beat and Harmonize's signature smooth vocals, "Single Again" and quickly become a fan favorite in Tanzania.
Bensoul x Bien "Navutishwa"
Kenyan artist Bensoul's remarkable album, The Lion of Sudah, showcases his versatile musical abilities and profound admiration for Africa's diverse rhythms and melodies. Seamlessly blending genres like R&B, reggae, afrobeats, and soul with traditional African elements, the album offers an exceptional auditory journey. The captivating album cover showcases Bensoul adorned with a lion's mane and crown, signifying his confidence and regal presence. With a generous track list of 18 songs and stand out tracks like “Dondosa”, “Navutishwa” and “Same Page” this album is set to leave a lasting impression on the Kenyan music scene.
Ugandan artist Vinka's "Bailando" is a lively dance track fusing Afro-pop and dancehall beats. Encouraging listeners to let loose and dance like no one is watching, the song captures the energetic spirit of Vinka's artistry. Vinka continues to set the bar high in Ugandan and East African music scene with her high level releases.
Maandy X Savara “Nitarudi”
Sauti Sol member Savara collaborated with buzzing female rapper Maandy on "Nitarudi." This refreshing joint effort delves into the dilemma of wanting to return to a lover who has previously caused hurt. The song has been generating considerable buzz on the charts, further solidifying the remarkable talent of these two artists. "Niratudi" showcases the magic that can be made when established Kenyan OGs collaborate with the new generation.
Nviiri The Storyteller, Bien and Bensoul - Nikilewa (Official Audio)
Nviiri the Storyteller's debut LP, Inside Out, released on Sol Generation, takes listeners on an immersive journey through three phases: Bwana Sherehe, Love & Heartbreak, and Consciousness. The album showcases Nviiri's growth as an artist and features collaborations with local and international acts. It invites listeners to experience a range of emotions. "Nikilewa" became an instant favorite among listeners, drawing them into a world of heartfelt emotions and introspection.