The music scene is quickly changing, with fresh faces being tossed in the field every other day. Despite some established acts already at the top of their game, some hot-bloodied youngins are already giving them a run for their money. In no particular order, we list stars we believe will continue winning this particular year.
Damini Ogulu aka Burna Boy has had a great run, musically. With his sleek, self-assured party tunes, he is arguably one of the most successful artistes of our times. He tops the list of who to watch out for this year. Burna is a beloved figure in global pop music that began to earn international acclaim with his single Ye from 2018’s Outside, his major-label debut. He won the 2021 Grammys Best Global Music Album for Twice As Tall, the follow-up to his hit album, African Giant. In 2020, African Giant was nominated for Best World Music Album, making him the first Nigerian with back-to-back nominations at the Grammys.
Last year, Wizkid was named the Africa Artiste of the Year by Apple music.
In the past two decades that Wizkid has been in the scene, he has been a major force, setting records every other day.
The Grammys award-winning Nigerian artiste has set history time and again.
He was the youngest African artiste to get nominated for Grammy Awards, courtesy of the 2016 Drake album, Views.
Despite all that, this musical whizz-kid is the first Afro-pop artiste to appear in the Guinness Book of World Records for writing Drake’s smash hit, One Dance.
The New Year looks better already as he is nominated for the 2022 Grammy Awards. Wizkid also won the 2021 MTV Europe Music Awards (MTV EMA) Best African Act award.
Naseeb Abdul Juma is the real ‘Simba’. Known for his uplifting bongo anthems, the WCB head honcho has been in the scene for a while and has created a name for himself. Not just as a musician, but also as a business mogul.
His versatility has seen him grow and collaborate with bigger artistes across the globe. In 2020, Diamond became the first sub-Saharan African artiste to earn over 1 billion YouTube views. In 2021 he was nominated for the best international act at the BET Awards, and for the third time. In the same year, he also signed a 360 deal with Warner Music Group through his own label, WCB Wasafi.
Since Back When hit the streets, followed by Dami Duro and his debut album Omo Baba Olowo, Davido has not bucked down. He remains one of the Nigerian artistes with the highest number of awards. The DMW boss has been in the game for over a decade and counting, and remains at the forefront, releasing hit tracks. As of 2021, his single Fall was certified gold in the US and Canada and is a best-selling Afrobeat song.
In 2020, his third studio album, A Good Time crossed the one billion stream benchmark, making him one of the few African Afrobeat artistes to achieve this feat. This year, we cannot wait to see what he has in store.
Although the above-named personalities have been in the game and have honed their craft for some time, we also have some newbies that have had a successful run musically in 2021 and might be a force to reckon with in 2022.
Without a doubt, this queen ruled 2021 and her 2022 is also on the tab. As young as she is, 19, Nikita has had a shocking rise to fame, her immaculate vocals and sound justifying it. Before her career took off, Nikita worked alongside established Kenyan vocalists, which is probably why it did not come as a surprise when she managed to earn a spot as one of the top 10 finalists of Mr Eazi’s emPawa project, where she released her first hit, Tragedy in 2019. In 2021, Nikita released her debut album A side of me that features her hit song Ex that has become somewhat of a national anthem. She recently bagged two Afrimma Awards, making her the youngest Kenyan female to ever reach such heights.
The Berklee College of Music alumni took Kenyans by surprise when she scored big by landing a spot on Teyana Talor’s project, ‘The Album’. Xenia was credited as a writer and background vocalist on the jam, Shoot It Up, which features Big Sean.
The Niambie crooner dropped her debut EP, Falling Apart in 2019 and has continued to establish herself in the international scene. She was previously selected as a finalist in Mr Eazi’s artistes’ accelerator emPawa in 2020, and has since featured in collaborations locally and abroad.
Nigerian songstress, Tems rose to fame after featuring on Wizkid’s 2020 single, Essence. Since, she’s been on everyone’s watch. Known for her powerful voice, her music is layered over an infectious sound accentuated with elements of soul, hip hop and R&B. The 26-year-old singer-songwriter released her EP in 2021 titled, If Orange Was A Place, where she flaunted her extraordinary vocal range whilst delivering amazing music. She is certainly one to watch in the New Year.
Fik Fameica, also known as Fresh Boy, is one of the most interesting rappers coming out of Uganda. The rapper made his first appearance on the music scene in late 2017 with the single, Kutama. Since, he’s been breaking barriers and collaborating with the who-is-who in Africa. He has worked with Patoranking, Rayvanny, Rosa Ree, Joeboy, Nyashinski, Fully Focus and Vanessa Mdee, among others.
Most people probably know her from social media. The 19-year-old Nigerian star started her career by posting clips on her social pages in 2019 before going professional. Her viewership was in hundreds of thousands, and this might be the reason she got snatched by a leading record label. Don Jazzy signed her to Mavin Records in 2020. She released her first project ‘Ayra Starr,’ in January 2021. Bloody Samaritan, is one of her most streamed watched videos on YouTube. The song is off her studio project, 19 & Dangerous. With charm and attitude, the 19-year-old singer is one of Nigeria’s most promising new voices.
This is another rapid rising Nigerian singer and Afro-fusion artiste. His debut EP, Get Layd introduced him in May 2020 as a freshman to watch. His second EP, What Have We Done cemented his presence in an exciting new league of millennial hitmakers, bringing a unique spin to the scene.
Kenya has had a countable number of musicians with larger than life profiles. Nadia Mukami might not be in the space yet, but she is for sure the underdog that is giving other musicians a run for their money. She is slowly joining the league and occupying the space.
Looking back a few years ago, it is clear that that the winds of the music world have drastically shifted and a breed of young hot-bloodied talented musicians have brought a sort of changing guard in the industry. She came, saw and conquered literally. Nadia’s youthful zest and passion is impossible to ignore, which is what initially struck many of her fans when her song, Si Rahisi hit the airwaves some few years ago. Her lyrics, almost poetic in nature, make her a cut above the rest. Her best is yet to come.
Whether you are a fan or not, you must admit, The OG has been creating waves since he came into the scene. His swagger and passion for music sets him apart from other rappers in the region. His solid content and clever lyrics have proven he is a force to reckon with. In 2020, Papa Jones was crowned Africa’s Best Hip hop act at Soundcity MVP Awards Festival. This gave him bragging rights and he has since termed himself the ‘Best rapper in Africa’.
As an upcoming artiste, Zuchu’s tutelage under Diamond Platnumz was phenomenal. Her rise was not only meteoric, but she proved she can deliver. While her vocals place her at the top of Tanzania’s bongo flava scene, it’s Zuchu’s songwriting prowess that enables her to dominate the charts. In 2020, Boomplay announced her debut EP, I Am Zuchu. This year, we expect nothing, but more ‘Sukari’.