As of today in 2024, Afrobeats remarkably stands out as one of the most globally embraced music genres as the artists seamlessly merge traditional African rhythms with contemporary elements such as hip-hop, R&B, and pop. Furthermore, the surge in the utilization of streaming platforms in recent years has significantly contributed to the broader promotion of Nigerian music on the international stage.
Chances are, you’ve grooved to the beats of Sarz & the vibes of Wizkid, swayed to the melodious tunes of Burna Boy, Davido, and Olamide, and experienced the electrifying vibes brought by artists like Wande Coal, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, and co. While these established stars have unquestionably set the stage ablaze, it’s now time to acquaint yourself with the emerging talents making waves in the Afrobeats scene!
Read on as we introduce you to the face of the new emerging generation of Afrobeats artists;
Rema (Divine Ekubor) is a young Nigerian musician who is gaining international recognition for his distinct fusion of Afrobeats, Trap, and R&B. The talented entertainer came into the spotlight in 2019 with his famous hit song “Dumebi” when he signed a contract with Jonzing World Records, a label connected to Mavin Records through brothers, D’ Prince and Don Jazzy who respectively own each label.
With his distinct style and vibrant energy, Rema has quickly become the biggest name in Nigerian Afrobeats. With his self-titled debut EP, which included the breakthrough smash “Dumebi”, Rema made his debut in 2019. His characteristic flow and memorable melodies define his music. Rema’s skill has been acknowledged by colleagues and fans worldwide, even at such a young age. He is still pushing boundaries and is recognized as one of Nigeria’s most fascinating performers as of right now. Remarkably, his biggest song, “Calm Down”, has been gaining excellent recognition globally, particularly the remix featuring Selena Gomez, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart for an unprecedented 52 weeks.
The talented musician, Rema, has clinched numerous accolades and awards rapidly over his career span – the Headies Next Rated, Best Male Artist, and Digital Artist of the Year awards. In addition, at the MTV Video Music Awards, he etched his name in history by securing the Best Afrobeats award alongside Selena Gomez, solidifying his position as a trailblazer in the global music panorama. Rema serves as a prime example of the new wave of Afrobeats artists who are instrumental in shaping the future of the music scene and shift.
Tems (Real name: Temilade Openiyi) is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and record producer rapidly ascending to prominence as one of the foremost figures in the global Afrobeats scene. Recognized for her soulful and distinctive sound, Tems seamlessly blends elements of R&B, soul, and alternative music, setting her apart as a unique and influential artist.
Remarkably, Tems, who is renowned for her reflective songs and soulful voice, offers a sound that combines Afro-fusion, neo-soul, and R&B for a compelling effect. Her expressive delivery and calming voice have drawn parallels to legendary performers like Sade and Erykah Badu. With the release of her breakthrough hit song “Mr. Rebel” in 2018, Tems became famous, and since then, she has put out a number of highly regarded tracks. In 2020, Tems unveiled her inaugural extended play titled “For Broken Ears.” Following that, her second extended play, “If Orange Was a Place,” saw its release in 2021. This release came subsequent to her signing a record deal with RCA Records, marking a significant milestone in her burgeoning career.
Also, in the year 2020, we saw Tems rise to global fame after collaborating with Nigerian artist Wizkid on the hit song “Essence”. Tems gained widespread international recognition after her feature “Essence”, as the song reached a peak position of number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The remix, featuring Justin Bieber, further elevated its success. This track not only earned significant acclaim but also secured Tems a Grammy Award nomination. In the same impactful year, she was also featured on Drake’s song “Fountains”. Since then, Tems has collaborated with artists including Future, Drake again, and Rihanna. In addition, she has won other awards, including three BETs and a Grammy for Best Melodic Rap Performance (feature).
Tems has won numerous awards during her career, including three BET Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, a Grammy Award, and three Soul Train Music Awards. Her co-writing credit on Rihanna’s song “Lift Me Up” brought her nominations for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, Best Original Song at the Golden Globes, and Best Song Written for Visual Media at the Grammy Awards. Tems has also received a nomination for her song “Me & You” at the 55th NAACP Awards in January 2024. She was nominated in the Outstanding Female Artiste category.
Asake (Ahmed Ololade) is a Nigerian singer and songwriter signed to YBNL Nation and Empire Distribution. His stage name “Asake” pays tribute to his mother. The iconic entertainer started his musical career by posting covers and freestyles on social media, which attracted notice and allowed him to start gaining a following of devoted fans. Asake has distinguished himself in the industry with his unique voice and dynamic delivery.
Asake catapulted to fame with his single “Mr. Money” in 2021, showcasing his signature blend of catchy melodies, dynamic stage presence, and distinctive style. His ascent in the music industry reached new heights when he inked a deal with Olamide’s YBNL Records in 2022. Subsequently, he released his debut album, “Mr. Money with the Vibe”, in September 2022. This album not only received acclaim from critics but also achieved considerable commercial success, propelling Asake to global stardom.
With the “Mr. Money with the Vibe” album, Afrobeats artist, Asake, broke the record for the biggest opening day for an African album on Apple Music at that time. The album made an impressive debut at number 66 on the Billboard 200 chart, marking the highest-charting Nigerian debut album in the history of the chart. Notably, Asake’s sophomore album, “Work of Art,” released June 2023, secured another debut at number 66 on the Billboard 200.
You will also find out that Asake’s accomplishments extend to awards and nominations. In 2020, Asake won Break Out Artist of the Year at the 2022 All Africa Music Awards and received a nomination for Best African Music Act at the 2022 MOBO Awards, marking his first international award nomination. Additionally, he earned a Best New International Act nomination at the 2023 BET Awards, and in the same year, he was ranked number 5 on Rolling Stone Music’s Future 25 list.
Recognized as one of the most thrilling emerging artists in the Afrobeats scene, he undoubtedly stands as a formidable presence poised to exert a significant influence in the years ahead.
Ckay (Chukwuka Chukwuma Ekweani) is a Nigerian rapper who is currently signed to Warner Music South Africa and Atlantic Records. He was previously affiliated with Chocolate City and was part of the Warner Music Group independent label services ADA. Note that during the early peak of his global career, Ckay was signed to The Plug Entertainment under the management of Asa Asika.
Remarkably, Ckay gained international recognition with his hit single “Love Nwantiti,” also referred to as “Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ahh),” which was released in 2019 by Chocolate City. The song achieved significant success, debuting at number one on the Billboard Afrobeats chart on 29 March 2022. Notably, on 9 May 2022, “Love Nwantiti” became the first African song to surpass one billion streams on Spotify, earning the title of “the biggest hit in African history”.
CKay has termed his own style of music “Emo-Afrobeats” to highlight the emotional and romantic lyrics that he emphasizes in it. Afrobeats, R&B, and dancehall are just a few of the genres in which CKay has produced music. In an interview with Ayo Onikoyi of Vanguard Nigeria on June 4, 2019, he referred to his musical style as Afro-pop from the future, particularly 2056 A.D. Helen Ainsley, an OCC writer, characterizes CKay’s music as a fusion of pop, electronic, and even classical music interwoven with Afrobeats on September 24, 2021. CKay was named by Teen Vogue’s Nelson C.J. on October 29, 2021, along with other Nigerian musicians who were mistaken for Alté singers.
On 20 June 2022, CKay achieved the remarkable feat of becoming the second African artist to amass 1.2 billion streams. However, he was later surpassed by Burna Boy, who secured the title of the most-streamed African artist with an impressive total of 1.4 billion streams. In August 2022, CKay marked another milestone by exceeding 100 million streams on Boomplay, leading to the presentation of a golden club plaque by Boomplay in recognition of his achievement. According to Boomplay data analysis, CKay’s music was featured in 3,549 playlists, captivating audiences from over 120 countries who were actively enjoying and streaming his songs on Boomplay as of 18 August 2022.
CKay has released a lot of projects, and singles, and featured on iconic records over the span of his career, if we are talking about modern Afrobeats and the future, CKay is definitely one of the faces to consider to be leading the new generation of Afrobeats artist.
Ayra Starr (Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe) is an emerging Nigerian Afropop artist who made a splash in the music scene. With a distinctive sound and a refreshing perspective on music, she swiftly garnered the attention of audiences. Ayra’s musical compositions often delve into themes of self-discovery, love, and personal growth, striking a chord with a younger generation of listeners.
With her unique style and captivating voice, the young Nigerian singer-songwriter, Ayra Starr, is gaining recognition in the music industry. She became popular in 2021 after releasing her self-titled debut EP and joining Mavin Records. Remarkably, Soul music, R&B, and Afrobeats are all blended together in Ayra Starr’s music. Her infectious enthusiasm, strong vocals, and catchy tunes are what make her well-known. Her distinctive and creative style has also drawn attention to her clothing selections and music videos.
Notably, despite her relatively brief time in the industry, Ayra Starr has already delivered several popular hits, including “Rush”, “Bloody Samaritan”, and “Sability”, showcasing her versatility. Additionally, she has collaborated with top Nigerian and international artists, solidifying her presence in the dynamic world of Afropop.
In the early months of 2021, Ayra Starr gained widespread acclaim with her self-titled debut extended play, highlighted by the chart-topping track “Away.” This hit spent two consecutive weeks at number four on Nigeria’s TurnTable Top 50 chart and reached number 17 on the Billboard Top Triller Global chart. This success paved the way for her first full-length album, “19 & Dangerous” (2021), a blend of Afropop and R&B that received positive reviews. The album produced two top forty hits in Nigeria, with the lead single “Bloody Samaritan” claiming the number-one spot on the Top 50 chart, marking the first time a solo song by a female artist achieved this feat. Ayra Starr debuted on the Pandora Predictions chart and, by August 28, 2021, secured the third position on Billboard’s Next Big Sound.
In 2022, Ayra Starr attained mainstream international recognition with the release of her song “Rush,” which charted in various territories, including Switzerland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number 24. This accomplishment earned her a nomination at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards for Best African Music Performance. Notably, with “Rush,” Ayra Starr became the youngest African female artist to surpass 100 million views on a single video on YouTube, achieving this milestone within a remarkable five-month period and becoming the first artist to do so.
Ayra Starr, a vocalist of Afrobeats and R&B, is up for her first Grammy nomination in the Best African Music Performance category for her song “Rush”. She will go off against Davido with Musa Keys in “Unavailable”, Burna Boy in “City Boys”, and Asake and Olamide in “Amapiano”.On November 10, 2023, the Grammy nominees were revealed. The artist Ayra Starr is celebrating a significant accomplishment with her nomination. She is the youngest and first female Nigerian musician to receive a Grammy Award nomination in the Best African Music Performance category.