The 20 Best East African Songs of 2021

Featuring Boutross, Zuchu, Harmonize, Azawi, Nimco Happy, Diamond Platnumz, and more.

2021 has been one of the best years for East African Music in a long time. Our artists have broken boundaries, signed better deals , and set their sights higher than ever before. It’s been beautiful to see new East African pop royalty rise in the likes of Zuchu, with her groundbreaking early year hit “Sukari” or Nviiri the Storyteller who nearly always tops the Kenyan charts with his incredibly relatable singles.

Another artist who really solidified his position in Tanzanian pop this year is Marioo and it’s been exciting to watch his steady rise since his 2020 monster amapiano hit “Mama Amina” with Sho Madjozi and Bontle Smith. While our beloved OGs did not disappoint, 2021 was definitely the year for the newcomers.

We also saw an improvement in the quality of production, music videos and more ambitious international collaborations. Diamond Platnumz leveraged a million dollar distribution deal from Ziiki Media Company, a huge feat for his dominating record label WCB Wasafi and for Tanzanian music in general. The Tanzanian and South African connection also brought about many monster amapiano-influenced hits while Kenyans embraced R&B to the max this year with the rise of soulful powerhouses like Nikita Kering and Xenia Mannaseh.

All in all East African artists really challenged themselves this year and did not take “no” for an answer. We can’t wait to see them take more of this energy into the new year and create more amazing music and pop culture moments.

Here are our picks for the Best East African Songs of the Year. Listed in no particular order.

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