Africa is a land of great musical traditions. From the sounds of traditional drums and horns to the more contemporary vibes of hip-hop and Afrobeat, African musicians have something special to offer the world. Here we take a look at 10 of the best music industries on the continent, ranging from big players like South Africa to up-and-coming scenes in countries like Namibia. So sit back and enjoy some African tunes!
South Africa’s music scene is one of the most diverse on the continent, with everything from kwaito (a style from the 1990s) to gospel. South African artists are often able to cross over into different genres, making their music accessible to a larger audience. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, and Hugh Masekela are some of the biggest South African musicians.
The country’s diverse culture and vibrant entertainment industry make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. African musicians are known around the world for their fusion of traditional sounds like Afrobeat with modern elements like hip-hop or R&B. This combination has resulted in some truly exciting new styles, which can be heard on albums by artists like Fela Kuti, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, among others who were heavily influenced by American soul music in their formative years.
Kenya has a long history as one of Africa’s most important musical centers, with artists like Miriam Makeba and Les Wanyika known all around the world. Today, some Kenyans still make waves internationally, while others are still unknown outside of their hometowns; but either way, there are tons of talent here!
It’s got traditional African sounds like benga (style that dates back to the 1970s) and contemporary pop. Many Kenyan artists are able to cross over into different genres, making their music accessible to a wide audience.
There are some famous Kenyan musicians, including Sauti Sol, who have been nominated for Best Group at the MTV Africa Music Awards; Nyashinski, whose single “Naitwa” won the #1 spot on Top 100 charts throughout Africa and Wahu, who was recently nominated for Best Female Artist at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.
Uganda is known for its folk music and sometimes children and women sing them at weddings and funerals. But it also produces hip-hop and reggae thanks to tourism (or maybe even more so because Ugandans haven’t been allowed overseas access for a very long time).
Uganda has a rich musical landscape that spans many different styles, including traditional African sounds like taarab (a genre that originated in Zanzibar) and contemporary pop. From bongo flute-led ceremonies to modern hip-hop songs,
Ugandan musicians are able to draw on many influences to create something truly unique. Some famous Ugandan artists include Bebe Cool, who was nominated for Best Male Artist at this year’s Channel O Music Video Awards; Irene Ntale, whose recent single “Kyolowoza” reached number two on Top 100 charts across Africa last month and John Blaq, who previously featured as part of Top Ten Countdown with his hit single “Tukonko.”
As a melting pot of cultures, Tanzania’s music scene reflects this diversity. Tanzanian musicians are able to draw on many different influences to create something really special. From the sounds of traditional instruments played at weddings to modern pop songs. Zara McFarlane, Diamond Platnumz, and Mdu Masilela are famous Tanzanian artists.
Though Morocco isn’t actually in Africa, its proximity and cultural ties to Africa make it deserving of a spot on this list. Moroccan music is heavily influenced by traditional Andalusian music from Spain as well as by Arabic music. This gives you a sound that’s at once exotic and familiar at the same time. Morocco is home to artists like Cheb Khaled, Nass el Ghiwane, and Oum Kulthoum.
Ghana is home to one of the most popular music genres in Africa – Highlife. It’s got a lot of influences, including traditional African drumming, jazz, funk, and a lot more. It’s great for dancing and has fans everywhere. Kojo Antwi, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, and Ebo Taylor Jr. are some Ghanaian Highlife stars.
There are so many types of music in Zimbabwe, including mbira (a musical instrument made of thumbs), chimurenga (a style that developed in the 1970s as a result of political unrest), and gospel (Zimbabwe is one of the most religious countries in the world). Often, Zimbabwean artists cross over into other genres, making their music accessible to a wider audience. There are famous Zimbabwean musicians like Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, and Jah Prayzah.
Cameroon’s music scene is influenced by both traditional African styles and modern pop from around the world. You can hear this in songs like Manu Dibango and Salif Keita. Cameroon has an active hip-hop scene, with popular rappers like Stanley Enow, Blaise B, and Jovi Le Monstre.
Senegal has many different types of music, such as mbalax (pop), Afro-Cuban sounds like salsa and merengue, as well as traditional African styles like the griot tradition. Senegalese musicians like Baaba Maal, Ismael Lo, and Youssou N’Dour have helped popularize their country’s music around the world.
Mozambique has a lot of musical traditions like marrabenta (a style developed during Portuguese colonialism) and chimurenga (Zimbabwean pop). Today, many artists are able to cross genres, making their music more accessible to a broader audience. There are some famous Mozambican musicians like Paulo Flores, Filipe Nyusi, and Lucas Santana.
Namibia is home to a number of different musical traditions, including traditional African styles like kwaito (a style that developed in the 1990s) as well as Afrikaans music from South Africa. Namibian artists are often able to crossover into different genres, making their music accessible to a wide range of audiences.
Some famous Namibian musicians include Gazza, aka Lazarus Shiikwa, who has been nominated for Best Male Artist at this year’s Channel O Music Video Awards; Sunny Boy, who won the Best Newcomer award at MTC last month and Top Cheri, who previously featured on Channel O’ Top Ten Countdown with his hit single “Namibia.”
Ethiopia has a rich history of musical traditions, including Ethiopian jazz (a style that developed in the 1970s) as well as traditional folk music from Eritrea. Top Ethiopian artists are often able to crossover into different genres, making their music accessible to a wide range of audiences.
Some famous Ethiopian musicians include Mahamoud Ahmed, who has been nominated for Best Male Artist at this year’s Channel O Music Video Awards; Teddy Afro, whose recent single “Yene Habesha” reached number one on Top 100 charts across Africa last month and Tewodros Kassahun aka Teddy Yo whose most popular track is entitled “Adera.”
Who’s the biggest artist in Africa?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on individual opinions and definitions. However, some popular contenders for the title of “biggest artist in Africa” include music stars Davido and Wizkid, actress Yvonne Nelson, and soccer player Mohamed Salah.
African music is truly a force to be reckoned with, and it’s only getting more popular all the time. So whether you’re a fan of traditional drums and horns or you prefer the vibes of contemporary hip-hop and Afrobeat, there’s something for everyone in Africa’s amazing music scene. Sit back, relax, and enjoy some tunes from the 10 best music industries on the continent!
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