News

15 African Artists You Need to See at SXSW

Here are the African artists you should see at SXSW, featuring Faarrow, Maleek Berry, Little Simz, Ayo Jay and more.

It's officially SXSW season. Though this year's festival has seen a bit of controversy surrounding its contracts for international acts, the Austin-based music, film and arts festival will take place from March 10 to 19, and will feature some of the biggest names in African music.


Last year's roster boasted Davido, Bombino, DJ Cuppy and more. The 2017 line-up is shaping up to be just as memorable, as it's been announced that a slew of heavyweights are set to perform.

Below is a list of the African artists that you should check out at this year's festival, and where you can find them.

Ayo Jay

Nigerian artist, Ayo Jay, made waves last summer when his single "Your Number" became one of afrobeats' first crossover hits. The song dominated international radio and even got a remix from Fetty Wap. The success of the song landed Jay a major record deal with RCA and he was listed as one of Rolling Stones' "10 Artists You Need to Know" in 2016.

Shows: You can catch Ayo Jay performing at the Cedar Street Courtyard. Click here for more info.

Alikiba

In 2016, Tanzanian megastar Alikiba became one of the first East African artists signed to Sony. He'll have an array of hit songs to perform, as every single he's released since his debut has sprung to the top of the charts, one of his most well known being the 2014 hit "Mwana." He's been East Africa's "Most Downloaded Artist" on the music service Mkito for three consecutive years starting in 2014 and he's won countless international music awards. It's no secret why he's nicknamed "The King."

Shows: He'll preform at the International Day Stage Austin Convention and at the Cedar Street Courtyard. More details here.

DJ Edu

DJ Edu is the man behind BBC Radio 1xtra's longest running African music show "Destination Africa." He's the continent's most recognizable music ambassador, known for putting African artists on the map and championing growing music scenes through documentaries like his latest "The Best Nightclubs in Africa."

Shows: DJ Edu will be live at The Belmont.

Faarrow

Courtesy of Faarrow

FAARROW consists of Somali-Canadian sisters Siham and Iman Hash, who developed their musical talent when their family relocated to Toronto after escaping the civil war. Lat year, the group released their first EP Lost, and their debut album is on its way. They'll most likely perform fan-favorites like "Chasing Highs" and "Shut Up." Aside from creating music, the sisters also engage in humanitarian work and are currently spokespeople for the UN's Refugee Agency. We recently featured them in OkayAfrica's 100 Women.

Shows: Faarrow will perform at Palm Door on sixth patio.

Juls

We've been following DJ Juls' career for quite some time now. His unique production blends highlife, afrobeats, hip-hop and more, and he's produced countless bangers with the likes of Sarkodie and Maleek Berry. Most recently, he collaborated with L.A.X for the smooth highlife-inspired single "Give You Love."

Shows: Juls will perform at The Belmont. See more details here.

Kwesta

The South African MC Kwesta, topped his country's hip-hop charts last year with hit song "NGUD," which features Cassper Nyovest and saw the rapper flexing his unique Zulu and English rap hybrid. He released his debut album Special Rekwest in 2010. His latest album, 2016's DaKAR II (Da King of Afrikan Rap II), is a double-disc follow-up to his 2013 album by the same name. Kwesta's been doing his thing in the South African rap game for over a decade.

Shows: Kwesta will deliver two live sets, one at Clearport and the other at Radio Day Stage Austin Convention. You can find more details here.

Little Simz

With her introspective lyrics and slick flow, British-Nigerian MC Little Simz, constantly draws comparisons to Lauryn Hill, but she's really in a lane of her own. Her music video for "Gratitude"  was inspired by the 2015 South African Student Protest, and was one of the year's best. She recently blew us away with her Tiny Desk Performance of songs from her sophomore album Stillness in Wonderland.

Shows: Little Simz will play at The Main II and at Mohawk Outdoor.

Maleek Berry

Star producer and artist Maleek Berry will also hit the SXSW stage. The Nigerian artist produced some of Wizkid and Wande Coal's most popular jams, before dropping his very own debut EP, Last Daze of Summer, in 2016. He's blown up thanks to singles like "For My People" and "Kontrol." His latest banger "4 Me" will likely be a crowd favorite.

Shows: Maleek Berry will perform at The Belmont as part of the Sounds from Africa and the Caribbean showcase. More details here.

Mélat

Mélat album cover for "MeVen."

Austin-based Ethiopian singer Mélat first caught our attention with the hazy and seductive pop compositions on her 2015 EP, It Happens So Fast. The singer dropped her 11-song debut album, MéVen, this yeara collection of personal and modern R&B songs that explore several angles of her Ethiopian heritage (it also features her first full song in Amharic).

Shows: Catch Mélat at Trinity Hall at Old school. More info here.

Moelogo

Moelogo. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Born in Lagos, the British-Nigerian songwriter Moelogo is South London's rising afrobeats star. Moelogo first broke out in 2013 with “Pangolo.” He came out with his latest 5-song EP, Ìréti, last year, which he created with producer P2J. “Ìréti” translates to “Hope” in his native language, Yoruba. His buzz is rising as the the likes of Davido and Sarkodie have remixed his Ìréti standout “Penkele.”

Shows: Moelogo will perform at The Belmont. More details here.

Robin Thirdfloor

Courtesy of Robin Thirdfloor

Robin Thirdfloor is one of the 25 South African Rappers Under 25 Killing the Game. His latest EP, Sounds Empty Pockets Make, is a meditation, with dope rhymes and beats, on being broke in an age of increasing consumerism and the peer pressure to keep up. The Durban rapper’s currently signed to the indie label Post Post alongside Moonchild, Elo and Fortune Shumba.

Shows: See Robin Thirdfloor perform at Clearport. More info here.

Samito

Samito album cover. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Montreal-based Mozambican artist and songwriter Samito released his debut album last year on Costume Records. The self-titled album, Samito, includes eight tracks and highlights the artist's unique and distinctive new-age electronica sound, while reimagining the landscape of afro-inspired beats.

Shows: Catch Samito live at Swan Dive. More info here.

Ras Nebyu

Ras Nebyu is a Washington, DC-based Ethio-American rapper who caught our attention with his romantic cover of Drake's "Controlla." Nebyu's tracks bridge the gap between his Ethiopian and American backgrounds, providing a new and fresh take on D.C. hip-hop.

Shows: See Ras Nebyu at Austin City Limits live at the Moody Theater. Details here.

Oshun

A post shared by OSHUN (@oshun) on

Brooklyn-bassed duo Oshun perform songs with the purpose of spreading the essence of the Yoruba deity they're named after. The group's sound is built on neo-soul and hip-hop and preaches love, peace, and social justice. In the span of a few years, Oshun have cultivated a growing grassroots following, leading to more than a million streams on Soundcloud and almost two million on YouTube.

Shows: See Oshun perform live at the Russian House. Details here.

Young Paris

Young Paris at SummerStage. Photo by Oluwaseye.

The NYC-based Young Paris, who signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation last year, is coming off the release of his African Vogue album. He’ll surely be bringing his entrancing dance performance, electronic beats, and “African flyness” to his shows.

Shows: Catch Young Paris at Clearport. Info here.

popular
Video still via Youtube.

Watch Sarkodie's New Music Video for 'Feelings' Featuring Maleek Berry

The latest music video from the Ghanaian rapper's album "Black Love" doubles as a mini rom-com for the lovers out there.

Sarkodie just dropped the music video for "Feelings" featuring Maleek Berry—the latest single from his album, Black Love.

In the video, directed by George Guise of Visionnaire Pictures Film, both the Ghanaian rapper and Nigerian producer link up to tell the story of one who is wrapped up in their feelings for their love interest and what could happen if you never tell that person such.

Keep reading...
popular
"Ancestral Manifestations" by Alexis Tsegba. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Meet Nigerian 'New Media' Artist, Alexis Tsegba, Whose Work Explores the Intersection of Nature & Technology

We speak with the digital artist about the Afrofuturistic themes in her work, exploring culture through technology and her creative influences.

As a 7-year-old growing up in Benue State, Nigeria, Alexis Tsegba, loved watching her teenage cousin draw natural, flowing pencil strokes to create comics. But when she asked him to teach her, he pushed her aside with a scoff and a "No!". Later, he offered her his mentorship in exchange for payment. But headstrong and determined, Tsegba picked up her own writing utensil and a sheet of paper and began meticulously sketching out what she remembers as one of her first works.

At 15, she remembers painting water-colors, and at 18, she moved on to acrylics. Despite studying law at the University of Reading, it wasn't until completing her Masters in Creative and Media Enterprise from the University of Warwick that she realized the infinite artistic possibilities available to her.

Keep reading...
popular
Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Keep reading...
popular

University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

Keep reading...

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.