The 10 Best African Musicians of The Decade

Music has gone through a lot of diversity over the past 10 years. In 2014, afrobeats officially overtook any other african music genres to become the most listened genre on the continent of Africa and the world at large, and as it has grown in popularity. African music has become widely accepted and melodious and a lot subgenres have popped up out of it, pushing the prospects of what African music can become.

As we were shortlisting for the Best Afro Musician of the Decade, we realised how big African music has grown with respect to its coverage and recognition. Afrobeats has reached new heights because of numerous artistes who worked harder and paint painted the continent of Africa green on the world map.

After hours of deliberation and sorting out, we came down to a final list of 10 Best Afro Musicians in Africa. These were based on impact, influence, success, consistency, hits, discography and local and international awards and recognition over the decade.

These are the Best Afro Musicians of the Decade in Africa.

10. Manifest

Releases This Decade: The Birds and the Beats (Free Mixtape, 2009), Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America (2011), Apae: the price of free EP (2013), Nowhere Cool (2016)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade: Minnesota Emerging composer Award (MECA) (2010) – American Composers Forum, Best Rapper of the year (2013, 2017) – Ghana Music Award, Midem Best Artiste (2017) – International Midem Awards, France, Best Artiste in African Hip Hop award (AFRIMA 2018)

In 2009 he released a free album, the Birds and the Beats, to raise awareness and funds for the work of a non-profit, Young Entrepreneurs Africa.

He released his sophomore album Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America in September 2011, which included the singles “Suffer”, “Asa” and “Blue (Chale What Dey Happen)”. It marked a decade of his life in the U.S. and the beginning of his transition back to Ghana. In 2012 M.anifest began making major inroads in Africa performing on The Big Brother Africa stage as well at the Channel O Music Video Awards in South Africa. The video for his single “Makaa Maka” also got him nominated for Most Gifted Hip-Hop Video at the 2012 Channel O Music Awards and won him Best Hip-Hop Video at the 4syte Music Video Awards.

9. Tiwa Savage

Releases This Decade: Once Upon a Time (2013), R.E.D (2015), Sugarcane (2017)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade: Female Musician of the Year City People Entertainment Awards (2011), Most Gifted Female Channel O Music Video Awards (2014), Best Pop/R&B Artiste of the Year/Female Artiste of the Year Nigeria Entertainment Awards (2014), Best Female MTV Africa Music Awards (2014), Best African Act MTV Europe Music Awards (2018)

In 2006, Savage participated in the UK edition of The X Factor and advanced to the final 24, but ended up being the 12th person to be evicted.
In 2009, Savage signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The deal allowed her to write for Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia, Monica and Mýa. She has received songwriting credits for her contribution to Monica’s soul-tinged ballad “Catch Me”. Her collaboration with Fantasia on the song “Collard Greens & Cornbread” earned the American recording artiste a Grammy nomination in 2010. Savage wrote Jaicko’s “Oh Yeah”, featuring Snoop Dogg, and Deluna’s “Push Push”, featuring Akon and David Guetta. She performed background vocals on Whitney Houston’s album I Look to You (2009). Inspired by the growth of the Nigerian music industry, Savage moved back to Nigeria and signed with Mavin Records in 2012.

8. Aka

Releases This Decade: Altar Ego (2011), Levels (2014), Be Careful What You Wish For (with Anatii) (20170, Touch My Blood (2018)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade: Most Valuable Artiste/Song of the Year 4th South African Hip Hop Awards (2015), Best Male Southern Africa/Best Collaboration African Muzik Magazine Awards (2015), Pan African Artiste of the Year Namibia Annual Music Awards (2019)

Kiernan Jarryd Forbes professionally known as AKA, is a South African rapper, songwriter, record producer, singer and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Cape Town, Western Cape. Forbes gained significance after releasing his single “Victory Lap” which was released from his debut album, Alter Ego (2011). Forbes continued his success by releasing studio albums which include Levels (2015), Touch My Blood (2018), and the collaborative album, Be Careful What You Wish For alongside Anatii (2017). On April 2018, Forbes alongside vodka brand Cruz launched the watermelon-flavoured drink with his initial on the bottles. That same month, Forbes was featured as a special guest on WWE Live events which were held in Johannesburg and Cape Town. As for 2019, he was the roastee for the Comedy Central Roast special.

7. Angelique Kidjo

Releases This Decade: Õÿö (2010), Spirit Rising (2012), EVE (2014), Remain In Light (2018), Celia Cruz (2019)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade:  Grammy Awards (2008, 2015, 2016), Doctor of Music by Berklee College (USA)

Her musical influences include the Afropop, Caribbean zouk, Congolese rumba, jazz, gospel, and Latin styles.
She has recorded George Gershwin’s “Summertime”, Ravel’s Boléro, Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”, and has collaborated with Dave Matthews and the Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Price, Alicia Keys, Branford Marsalis, Ziggy Marley, Philip Glass, Peter Gabriel, Bono, Carlos Santana, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Josh Groban, Dr John, the Kronos Quartet, Yemi Alade, and Cassandra Wilson. Kidjo’s hit songs include “Agolo”, “We We”, “Adouma”, “Wombo Lombo”, “Afirika”, “Batonga”, and her version of “Malaika”. Her album Logozo is ranked number 37 in the Greatest Dance Albums of All Time list compiled by Vice magazine’s Thump website.

6. Fuse ODG

Releases This Decade: T.I.N.A (2014), New Africa Nation (2019)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade: Best African Act MOBO Awards (2013/2014), Best Male Diaspora African Muzik Magazine Awards (2014), Afro Pop Song of the Year Ghana Music Awards (2013/2014)

On 2 June 2013 Fuse ODG released his debut single “Antenna”, the song peaked at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart, the song also peaked at number 85 on the Irish Singles Chart. On 29 September 2013 he released the single “Azonto”, the song peaked at number 30 on the UK Singles Chart. On 19 October 2013, he was awarded ‘Best African Act’ at the MOBO Award’s 18th Anniversary. He recently won four awards at the Urban Music Awards 2013; Best Music Video, Best Single, Best Artiste and Best Collaboration. On 29 December 2013 he released the single “Million Pound Girl (Badder Than Bad)”, the song peaked at number 5 on the UK Singles Chart, the song also peaked at number 65 on the Irish Singles Chart. On 18 May 2014 Fuse ODG released “Dangerous Love”, featuring Sean Paul. It peaked at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart. His next single, “T.I.N.A.” featuring British R&B artiste Angel, was released on 19 October 2014. His debut album, T.I.N.A., an acronym for “This Is New Africa”, was released on 3 November 2014 and includes all five singles, the album peaked to number 25 on the UK Albums Chart, the album also peaked to number 63 in Scotland. Fuse ODG turned down an offer to sing on the Band Aid 30 project because he objected to the way the lyrics of the song portrayed the victims of the ongoing Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, and Africa generally.

5. Stonebwoy

Releases This Decade: Grade 1 Album (2012), Necessary Evil (2014), Epistles of Mama (2017)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade: Best International Act Bet Awards (2015), Artiste of The Year Ghana Music Awards (2105), Dancehall ArtisteBest Reggae/Dancehall Artiste AFRIMMA (2015, 2018, 2019)

Livingstone Etse Satekla, better known by his stage name Stonebwoy is a Ghanaian afropop, dancehall and reggae artiste. He is the CEO of Burniton Music Group. He won the Best International Act: Africa category at the 2015 BET Awards and Artiste of the Year at the 2015 Ghana Music Awards. He is recognized as the king of reggae and dancehall artistes in Africa Stonebwoy is also an actor, having appeared in the movie My name is Ramadan. He is a global ambassador for sanitation. In September 2019, he was made the brand ambassador for Voltic Natural Mineral Water, in a deal that could be renewed after two years.

4. Davido

Releases This Decade: Omo Baba Olowo (2012), Son of Mercy (2016), A Good Time (2019)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade: Best Newcomer Award Kora Awards (2012), Best International Act Bet Awards (2014), Best Male/Artiste of The Year MTV Africa Awards (2014), African Artiste of The Year (2014), Artiste of The Year/Song of The Year The Headies (2018),

David Adedeji Adeleke better known by his stage name Davido, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and record producer. Born in Atlanta and raised in Lagos, Davido made his music debut as a member of the music group KB International. He studied business administration at Oakwood University before dropping out to make beats and record vocal references. Davido rose to fame after releasing “Dami Duro”, the second single from his debut studio album Omo Baba Olowo (2012). In January 2016, Davido announced on Twitter that he signed a record deal with Sony Music. His announcement was met with mixed reactions. The record label put out a press release to confirm the deal. Few months after signing with Sony, Davido founded the Davido Music Worldwide (DMW) record label. Dremo and Mayorkun are currently signed to the label. In July 2016, Davido signed a record deal with Sony’s RCA Records. He released the 5-track EP Son of Mercy in October 2016. The EP features guest appearances from Simi, Tinashe and Nasty C. Davido revealed to Pulse Nigeria in April 2017 that he renegotiated his contract with Sony due to creative control issues. He released five singles in 2017 after restructuring his contract, including “If” and “Fall”. The former generated worldwide social media activity, while the latter became the longest-charting Nigerian pop song in Billboard history.

3. Wizkid

Releases This Decade: Superstar (2011), Ayo (2014), Sounds From The Other Side (2017)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade: Promising Artiste of The Year Dynamix All Youth Awards (2010), Next Rated The Headies (2011), Best African Act MOBO Awards (2011), Artiste of The Year The Headies (2012), Best International Act Bet Awards (2012), African Artiste of The Year Ghana Music Awards (2013, 2016), Artiste of The Year AFRIMA (2017).

Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun known professionally as Wizkid, is a Nigerian singer and songwriter. He started recording music at the age of 11 and managed to release a collaborative album with the Glorious Five, a group he and a couple of his church friends formed. Wizkid signed a record deal with Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E) in 2009. He rose to prominence after releasing “Holla at Your Boy”, the lead single from his debut studio album Superstar (2011). In February 2014, Wizkid became the first ever Nigerian musician to have over 1 million followers on Twitter. Ayo, his self-titled second studio album, was released in September 2014. It was supported by six singles: “Jaiye Jaiye”, “On Top Your Matter”, “One Question”, “Joy”, “Bombay” and “Show You the Money”. Wizkid left E.M.E after his contract expired. In 2016, Wizkid achieved international recognition following his collaboration with Drake on the global hit, “One Dance”, which reached number one in 15 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. He signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records in March 2017. His third studio album Sounds from the Other Side was released by RCA Records. It serves as his major label debut and was primarily a Caribbean-influenced record. SFTOS was supported by five singles: “Daddy Yo”, “Sweet Love”, “Come Closer”, “African Bad Gyal” and “Naughty Ride”. In addition to his solo work, Wizkid has collaborated with several other artists and was featured on the hits “Brown Skin Girl” (with Beyonce), “Energy (Stay Far Away)” (with Skepta), “Sexy Mama” (with Iyanya), “Slow Down” (with R2Bees), “The Matter” (with Maleek Berry), “Pull Over” (with KCee) and “Bad Girl” (with Jesse Jagz). Moreover, he became the first Afrobeats artist to appear in the 2018 Guinness World Records for his contribution to “One Dance”.

2. Sarkodie

Releases This Decade: Makye (2009), Rapperholic (2012), T.M.G with Jayso (2013), Sarkology (2014), Mary (2015), Highest (2017), Alpha (2019)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade:  Artiste of the Year Ghana Music Awards (2010, 2012), Best Rapper of the Year Ghana Music Awards (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018), Artiste of The Decade Ghana Music Awards (2019), Best International Act Bet Awards (2012), Best International Flow Bet Awards (2019), Best Entertainer EMY Awards (2016), Best HipHop MTV Africa Music Awards (2014), Best Male Artist Inspirational Music AFRIMA (2018), African Artist of the Year The Headies (2012, 2014, 2015)

Sarkodie often raps in his native language “Twi” and is considered a “multifaceted rapper” due to the various musical styles he possess. Sarkodie is often named as one of Africa’s greatest hip hop artists. MTV Base ranked him sixth on its list of the Hottest African MC’s in 2014. In 2013, Lynx TV ranked him first on its list of the “Top 10 Ghanaian Rappers of All Time”. In 2015, AfricaRanking.com ranked him third on its list of the “Top 10 African Rappers of 2015”. In 2015, The Guardian listed him as one of its top five hip hop acts on the African continent. He was ranked 8th on Forbes and Channel O’s 2013 and 2015 list of the Top 10 Richest/Bankable African Artistes. On July 13, 2013, Sarkodie launched The Sarkodie Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting underprivileged children. He made generous donations to the Royal Seed Home Orphanage in Kasoa. On December 25, 2014, The Sarkodie Foundation embarked on a feed the kids campaign in Tema, where they provided thousands of kids with eight sacks of rice, yogurt and beverage cans. They also gave away school bags, water bottles, hats and other items. Roshi Motman, the CEO of Tigo Telecommunications, was also in attendance to support the campaign. Sarkodie owns the Sark by Yas clothing line, which was launched on April 27, 2013. In 2012, he was officially unveiled as the Brand Ambassador for Samsung Electronics at the University of Ghana, Legon. As part of the event, Samsung unveiled the Samsung Galaxy Pocket and Chief Hero Phones that had customized wallpapers of Sarkodie and his signature; users had the opportunity to download exclusive tracks of Sarkodie. He also launched the Obidi Chief headphones and signed an endorsement deal with FanMilk Ghana in 2013. Sarkodie was in partnership with Tigo Telecommunications Ghana, a brand that sponsored his 2013 Rapperholic tour. On 30 October 2019, he was appointed as an ambassador for the Year of Return campaign; the honor was conferred on him at the Creative Arts Industry Forum.

1. Burna Boy

Releases This Decade: L.I.F.E (2013), On A Spaceship (2015), Outside (2018), African Giant (2019)
Awards and Recognitions This Decade: 

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu known professionally as Burna Boy, is a Nigerian singer and songwriter. He rose to prominence in 2012 after releasing the lead single “Like to Party” from his debut studio album, L.I.F.E (2013). In 2017, Burna Boy signed with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records in the United States and Warner Music Group internationally. His third studio album Outside (2018) marked his major-label debut. In 2019, he won Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards. He was also announced as Apple Music’s Up Next artist. Out of his controversial Coachella brouhaha, is fourth studio album African Giant was released in July 2019, which blew him up to every corner of the world giving the biggest recognition any African artist has ever gained. Burna Boy describes his music as Afro-fusion, a genre that blends Afrobeat, dancehall riddims, reggae, American rap and R&B. August Brown of The Los Angeles Times said Burna Boy’s sound is “savvy and modern but undistracted by obvious crossover moves”. Currently nominated for the 62nd Grammy Awards 2020 for Best World Album.

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