It is important to realize that music is much more than entertainment. Music says something about our heritage, our culture, and the kinds of people we strive to be. Also important to note, music exists with a wide variation throughout the world. Sure, the British invasion was one great example America witnessed. But let’s take a look at some contemporary acts you may not be familiar with. In the spirit of representing the diversity of cultures and heritages that meet in Africa, here are five notable African musicians that you should be adding to your iPod.
If you are in the mood for some R&B, check out Nigerian duo P-Square. Peter and Paul Okoye are identical twins, hence the name P-Square. With six albums (including a greatest hits compilation), and a record deal with famous Senegalese-American rapper/singer Akon, P-Square has quite the resume.
2. Koffi Olomide
Hailing from the Congo, Olomide is known for combining traditionally Latin grooves with African dance music. In particular, Olomide’s style is considered to be soukous, which has its roots in rumba. His lyricism and vocals have been highly praised by music critics across the globe.
D’banj’s blend of Afro-Beats with electronic music caught the eye of hip-hop virtuoso Kanye West. In 2011, D’banj signed with West’s GOODMusic label. He is also well known for his humanitarian efforts as Nigeria’s Youth Ambassador for Peace to the United Nations.
4. Jose Chameleone
Jose Chameleone is a Ugandan musician known for mixing folk music with reggae and Latin influences. Singing in English, Swahili, and Luganda (the major language of Uganda), Chameleone shows how he can “blend in” with multiple cultures.
5. Yvonne Chaka Chaka
A South African singer of the Mbaqanga genre, Chaka Chaka is both a musician and a scholar who teaches literature at the University of South Africa. Mbaqanga is a style sometimes considered to be like jazz, but has roots in traditional Zulu music. Chaka Chaka has been active in the South African music scene since 1985, and has a tremendous catalog.
– Taylor Diamond
Sources: All Africa, The African Economist