African music as a whole took another gigantic leap on the global scale this year. We saw the rise of the next wave of impactful artists claim their stakes. Here’s our top songs of the year:
Zlatan Ibile – Zanku (Legwork)
Zlatan established himself as the originator of the now popular Zanku legwork dance craze that replaced the Shaku as the hottest trending African dance for 2019.
Zlatan X Burna Boy – Killin Dem
Although originally released in 2018, “Killin Dem” was on Burna Boy’s critically acclaimed African Giant album. The spiritually induced song took the Zanku craze to new heights with people from across the world performing their best legwork to the captivating beat.
Rema – Dumebi
From making former President of the United States Barack Obama’s playlist to touring the world, the “Bad Commando” has made an indelible mark on afropop music. Rema has no trouble bending genres, making him one of the hottest new comers of the Afro music scene and a bonified future star.
Beyonce, Shatta Wale, Major Lazer – ALREADY
Shatta Wale landed the biggest international collaboration by a Ghanaian artist to date with “Already.” Surprisingly, the combination of Beyoncé and Shatta Wale worked harmoniously for this dancehall cut off her Lion King: The Gift album. Fans also got to hear Beyoncé play with her delivery on this track.
Burna Boy – Anybody
If we could put the whole album of the list, we would. Burna Boy’s African Giant saw the afro fusion artist reach the heights many thought he deserved for years. Amazing visuals, dancability and music with a message allowed Burna Boy to captivate fans across the globe.
Juls, Tiggs Da Author, Santi- Maayaa
Ghanaian producer Juls joined forces with Nigerian alté singer Santi and Tanzanian musician Tiggs Da Author on “Maayaa.” The song features verses from Santi and Tiggs Da Author as they sing about a woman who has captured their love. In standard Juls fashion, the song has a classic highlife feel that is heavy on the strings.
Sho Madjozi- John Cena
Sho Madjozi caught the attention of the world, including John Cena, whom the song is titled after with her performance of the then unreleased track for A Colors Show. The song went viral and Sho Madjozi was evened surprised by the wrestling star while performing on the Kelly Clarkson Show.
Kizz Daniel – Fvck You
Kizz Daniel’s “Fvck You” song about a spurned lover spread virally as other artists such as Tiwa Savage and Sarkodie jumped on the challenge to create their own renditions.
M.anifest ft. Simi – Big Mad
This Ghana-Naija collaboration features two supremely talented song writers M.anifest and Simi. The song paints a picture of a love story that’s gone sour, which is also on display in the accompanying visuals.
Reekado Banks – Rora
Reekado Banks popped back on the scene with the playful “Rora.” The songs hypnotizing rhythm along with Reekado’s delivery leaves us in anticipation for his upcoming album.
Fireboy DML – Jealous
Fireboy DML debuted on the afro pop music scene with the catchy tune “Jealous.” The song tells a tale a man falling deeply in love with a woman to the point he’s jealous to see her with anyone else. Fireboy certainly made his mark as an artist with a bright future by releasing one of 2019’s best albums Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps.
King Promise – Commando
King Promise released “Commando” off the Summer Wave Collections Vol.1 project this year. The song has an infectious vibe with King Promise serenading a lady to allow him into her life.
Davido, Chris Brown – Blow My Mind
Davido’s international mark was made with the release of A Good Time, featuring pop music heavy hitters like Summer Walker and Popcaan. The single “Blow My Mind” featured Chris Brown was a seamless stylistic blend that gave us one of the best songs of the year.
DJ Maphorisa x Kabza de Small – Amantombazane
Amantombazane is one of the Amapiano standouts on DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small’s 2019 Scorpion Kings EP. The song features world class vocalist Samthing Soweto and MFR Souls.
Beyonce, Wizkid and Saint Jhn ft Blue Ivy – Brown Skin Girl
Did any song have a global impact like Beyonce, Wizkid and Saint Jhn’s “Brown Skin Girl” in 2019? From fellow stars like Lupita Nyong’o celebrating its release to Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi using it as inspiration, its safe to say that the lyrics made brown skin girls around the world feel seen.
J. Deborie -Poverty
J. Deborie debuted in 2019 as part of Mr. Eazi’s emPawa100 artist. His song “Poverty” tells a story about the pains and struggle of growing up poor. J. Deborie is a new face of Ghanaian dancehall music.
Naira Marley x Zlatan – Am I a Yahoo Boy
Marlians assembled after Naira Marley was arraigned by Nigerian authorities regarding internet fraud. The release of “Am I A Yahoo Boy” did nothing to dispel the charges against the artist, but served to popularize the Marlian movement. Teaming up with fellow newcomer Zlatan only helped to make this a 2019 heavy hitter.
Efya ft Medikal – Ankwadobi
Ghanaian singer, songwriter and actress, Efya delivered an impressive dance single titled, “Ankwadobi”, featuring Medikal. The DareMameBeat-produced single features catchy lyrics like “I don’t know what will ever make me leave you” from the Ghanaian songstress.
DJ Tunez ft Wizkid & Blaqjerzee- Gbese
“Gbese” by DJ Tunez ft. Wizkid and Blaqjerzee now seems like an introduction to the new senior man sound that Wizkid dropped on the Soundman Vol.1 EP. The production on this track is immaculate with Wizkid singing catchy lyrics like “Na the beauty of a woman.”
Guilty Beatz, Mr Eazi and Kwesi Arthur – Pilolo
Produced by Guilty Beatz, “Pilolo” kicked off yet another viral dance craze out of Africa. Featuring Mr Eazi and Kwesi Arthur its impossible to stand still to the pulsating drum bass.
MFR Souls ft DJ Maphorisa, Sha Sha, and Kabza De Small- Love You Tonight
DJ Maphorisa, Sha Sha, and Kabza De Small have all had an impactful year on South African music. “Love You Tonight” features Sha Sha was the leading vocalist blending Afrohouse and amapiano sounds. Immaculate production, writing a delivery makes this one of this year’s best.
Kwesi Arthur ft Mr Eazi – Nobody
“Nobody” serves as the lead single from Live From Nkurmah Krom, Vol II Home Run, the much anticipated EP from Kwesi Arthur. Kwesi Arthur and Mr. Eazi’s musical styles blend naturally on this track.
Oxlade – Shugar
Oxlade serves as another Nigerian up and comer, who released “Shugar” a high energy, fast paced dance track. His unique pitch range and tonality which we also saw displayed on songs like “Causing Trouble” with DJ Tunez makes Oxlade one of this year’s standout artists to keep an eye on.
Adekunle Gold – Before You Wake Up
Adekunle Gold’s “Before You Wake Up” is a beautiful love ballad produced by Sess. Perfect to dedicate to your lover, or to walk down the isle to, this is another timeless classic that Adekunle Gold seems to make easily in his sleep.
Teni – Power Rangers
Power Rangers was the standout song off Teni’s 2019 EP Billionaire. The song was produced by JasSynths, the same producer responsible for her breakthrough single “Case”.
Samthing Soweto – Alulelaleki
The South African amapiano track “Alulelaleki” features vocals by Samthing Soweto and Sha Sha with silky smooth production from DJ Maphorisa.
Yemi Alade – Shake
Yemi Alade has established herself as arguably one of if not Nigeria’s leading lady of Afropop. Her duet with legendary Duncan Mighty, titled “Shake” beautifully switches course a little from her dance jams that we’ve become accustomed to.
Joeboy – Baby
Nigerian newcomer Joeboy popped on the scene this year with his single “Baby” that was a viral success followed up with “Beginning.”
Wizkid – Joro
It seems as if Starboy used most of the first half of 2019 as a vacation period, not releasing any music of his own but only features. Wizkid dropped “Joro” with mesmerizing visuals featuring Georgia Curtis in September to the delight of his fans. “Joro” serves as another low-key club banger to add to Wizkid’s resume.
Shatta Wale – Melissa
Shatta Wale returned to the charts with single “Melissa”, promising all he will do for his darling. This serves as one of the Ghanaian dancehall king’s better solo releases for 2019.
Rema closed the year with his Bad Commando EP and one of the standout tracks is this afropop uptempo jam “Lady.”