Muthoni Drummer Queen "Lover" cover.

The 11 Best East African Songs of the Month

Featuring Muthoni Drummer Queen, Sauti Sol's latest with Burna Boy, Octopizzo and Ras Nebyu.

The shortest month of the year did not fall short when it comes to East African music.

From the cheesy love ballads that helped in making our Valentine's Day feel special to some under-the-radar hip-hop gems, here is a selection of the best songs of the month.

Yvan Buravan "Oya"

Yvan Buravan is one of Rwanda's most promising acts and with his steamy new single, "Oya," he is positioning himself to take on the rest of East Africa as well. His smooth vocals are complimented by the song's mellow and soulful instrumentation, resulting in a rich and sensual sound with almost endless replay value. It's exciting to see this young R&B heartthrob's career unfold as he prepares to release his debut album later this year.

Nyashinski "Bebi Bebi"

Arguably Kenya's most popular solo artist at the moment, Nyashinski has been dominating the charts since his return to the music industry in 2016. The comeback king's latest single "Bebi Bebi" is a feel-good afropop tune that tells the story of a struggling young man in love. With its infectious melodies and lyrics, it's not surprising that the song is already the biggest in the region.

Radio & Weasel ft Spice Diana "Kyuma"

Before his unexpected death, one of Mowzey Radio's last collaborations alongside Weasel was "Kyuma," which also features one of Uganda's fastest rising songbirds Spice Diana. Earlier this month a music video for the song was released in his honor, and despite the difficult circumstances, the trio's chemistry on the screen is still enjoyable to watch. Spice Diana's sweet vocals blend beautifully with Radio and Weasel's signature style giving the song an undeniably catchy quality.

Mbosso "Nimekuzoea"

Mbosso is the newest member of Diamond Platnumz's star-studded WCB Wasafi Label. His second single under the record label "Nimekuzoea" is a lovely rendition of the traditional bongo flava style that is supremely popular in Tanzania. Mbosso was already known as a member of the famous Yamoto band which split due to irreconcilable differences in 2017 but it looks like he's found a new place to shine.

Ras Nebyu "Don't Forget" feat. Haile Supreme & Corbin Butler

Ethiopian-American rapper Ras Nebyu along with Haile Supreme and Corbin Butler, are known as The Washington Slizzards, a creative collective of artists coming out of the DC rap scene. They got together for a bass-heavy new rap tune "Don't Forget," a song about remembering all the good and bad things you have endured in life with as little regret as possible. What a jam!

Sauti Sol "Afrikan Star" feet. Burna Boy

East Africa's top music group Sauti Sol got us warmed up on Valentine's Day with their latest self-produced single "Afrikan Star" which features Nigerian hitmaker Burna Boy. The boys stay true to their original style with this guitar-driven love ballad which serves as another celebratory track for the black woman. You would think having two big names like this on a track would be overwhelming but the two powerhouses actually go well together. Nevertheless, it's really great to see the boys owning their sound and doing what they do best, wooing the ladies.

Charly na Nina "Try Me"

Before parting ways with their longtime manager Rwanda's top female music duo Charly na Nina served us one of the hottest singles of the month, "Try Me." The duo is one of East Africa's fastest rising acts and with them now taking management into their own hands we hope they can keep up the momentum they've been building up.

Dashie ft. Ruby "Mputa"

Tanzanian sensations Dashie and Ruby teamed up for an up-tempo bongo flava banger "Mputa". The duo's lively vocal delivery coupled with its fast-paced organic instrumentation makes this song really easy to love.

Muthoni Drummer Queen "Lover"

"Lover" is the latest single off Muthoni Drummer Queen's forthcoming SHE album, a concept record which aims to answer the question of what it's like to be a woman in modern Kenya. Each song on the Kenyan artist's upcoming album will take the view-point of a different female character. The energetic and buoyant track tells the story of a proud and unapologetic transgender woman who is "having the sex of her life" as she experiences the beauty and power of womanhood.

Mikal Yosief "Kemey Aleki" (Cover)

Mikal Yosief, a budding Eritrean singer covers "Kemey Aleki" a song by one of Eritrea's musical legends, Yemane Barya. The singer provides her own tasteful and laid-back rendition of the classic record.

Octopizzo "Past" feat. Nitasha Randhawa

"Past" is the latest single off Octopizzo's forthcoming album which is due in April. The Kenyan rap star goes in a different direction this time around experimenting with a more pop-tinged acid jazz production. Canadian singer Nitasha Randhawa contributes her sultry vocals as Octo spits in Swahili and sheng with his signature flow intact.

News Brief
Burna Boy performs at the Warner Music Group pre-Grammy party in Hollywood on January 2020. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Warner Music)

Burna Boy, Tinariwen, Michael Kiwanuka & More Nominated For 2021 Grammy Awards

The Nigerian star and Tuareg band are nominated in the newly named Best Global Music Album category.

The nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards are in.

The awards show, which will be hosted by Trevor Noah, will see some of the world's biggest artists up for categories like Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist.

As we previously wrote about, the Grammys have renamed the international category of Best World Music Album to Best Global Music, in an effort to reportedly make it more modern and inclusive.

In that new Best Global Music Category, Nigerian afro-fusion star Burna Boy is nominated alongside Tuareg desert rock group Tinariwen, NYC afrobeat outfit Antibalas, Brazilian-American Bebel Gilberto and British-Indian sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Interview: Mau From Nowhere Reinvents Himself

The Kenyan artist goes soul-searching with his new MFN EP.