So, the Official UK Charts Company (OCC) has created the new Afrobeats Chart. A good idea in theory, but it was super-annoying to see afroswing artists and UK rappers in an afrobeats chart, perhaps an indication that the OCC was lumping together sounds, failing to recognise the distinction between them. They also missed out some of the big hotshots from the last few years; 2019, in particular, was an explosive year for the afrobeats genre. Let’s see who was left out of this controversial chart, shall we?
Remember this name for sure. The London-raised spitter injects groovy melodies into his music, creating British sounds that bring you right back to his African roots. Now a huge star in the eyes of his peers, this singles machine has more coming. Oh – and is this a good time to tell you that Kenny Beats told NME that he loves him too?
Key track: Every single Kudz puts out seems to be a hit. For starters, though try his breakthrough track ‘Issa Vibe’. Cruising over a zingy, ethereal instrumental that you might heard before (see B Young’s ‘079Me’), this is a fittingly titled track.
Odunsi (The Engine)
You might know Odunsi from last year’s catchy Raye-assisted track ‘Tipsy’, and the singer is a really great example of the evolution of afrobeats. Deconstructing traditional afrobeats sounds and distorting them with thrilling abandon, the 24-year-old Nigerian musician is a future star who should soon be all over this new afrobeats chart.
Key track: The aforementioned ‘Tipsy’ is a great start, but if you want to hear The Engine in full swing, try either ‘Wetin’ Dey’, a shiny, feel-good summer tune ready for your picnics, or ‘Wicked! Sexy!’, one of his newest releases.
Tiwa Savage’s overwhelming, buttery vocals have been in many people’s headphones for over half a decade. But her career didn’t really pick up globally until the past couple of years. From a UK X Factor reject to now the most in-demand female in afrobeats right now, Tiwa never disappoints. A stunning voice who could out-sing your favourite vocalist, it’s a shock that last year’s banger ‘49-99’ didn’t reach this questionable chart.
Key track: Her distinctive performance of the louche ‘Attention’, broadcast by music platform COLORS, showcased that traditional afro-pop sound that will never die out.
Big in the UK before afrobeats was even cool, Maleek Berry was controlling the nascent scene in back in 2017. Three years later, Berry is still the one to go to if you need that soulful touch atop jumpy, traditional afrobeats stylings. Dancy, upbeat and talented, Maleek Berry hasn’t put a foot wrong musically, so it’s sad to not see him on the chart.
Key track: ‘Doing U’ is an underrated gem. Berry has created a sultry, tantalising track for your chilled-out playlist.
He’s currently known mostly for his ‘Billie Jin’ freestyle, the remix of which was released last month and for which the Congolese rapper IDPIzzle drew inspiration from the late Pop Smoke’s most popular track ‘Dior’. The viral track was enjoyed all over the UK, but this is only the start of his career and it was a real shock not to see the star make the grade with his rumba drill.
Key track: After you’ve taken a spin on the vivacious viral hit ‘Billie Jin’, try ‘Désolé’ for a dose of groovy ‘beats.
Creating glimpses of sunshine, Teni is one of the most refreshing afrobeat pop stars out there. Sticking true to her Nigerian roots – she’s probably the most authentic afrobeats artist on this list – she captivates by singing about her hopes and dreams. With her girl-next-door-persona, Teni feels like your pal who always knows how to raise your spirits.
Key track: ‘Billionaire’ is a sweet, humble story about many people’s aspirations to be wealthy. Every pounding drum will help you raise your shoulders. And isn’t that afrobeats is all about?