Having looked at the men who have influenced the rise and popularity of Afrobeats in the world today, this second part of the report, Yemi Babalola focuses on the female artists who have made their mark and deserve to be applauded.
As mentioned in the first part of this report, Afrobeats is a combination of jazz, funk, Ghanaian highlife, psychedelic rock and traditional West African chants and rhythms. The sounds of the talking drums are a necessary element to make it perfect and listenable.
Yemi Alade is one name you cannot but admire in this steady rise of the new Afropop. Her consistency in giving music lovers danceable songs and melodic rhythms is one reason why she should never be underrated. Yemi can learn languages fast and her language learning prowess gives her an edge over other artists. She currently sings well in English, French, Yoruba, Portuguese, Igbo and Swahili. Yemi has been able to perfectly infuse Afrobeats into pop and traditional tunes that she makes you dance.
The beautiful Nigerian artist has four albums to her credit; namely, King of Queens, Mama Africa, Black Magic and the most recent Woman of Steel. Yemi has no doubt cemented her genius in this genre and it’s no surprise why fans feel she deserves the title ‘Mama Africa’, after the legendary Mariam Makeba.
Yemi featured on Beyoncé’s ‘Black is King’ album and was one of the few artists who appeared on more than one track. Yemi has also collaborated with legendary Angelique Kidjo, Jidena, Sauti Sol, DJ Arafat. The influence she wields in African music is why it is not surprising she was appointed a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in September.
Tiwatope Savage, also a Nigerian, is arguably one of the best female voices to emerge from Africa. Professionally known as Tiwa Savage, the singer has been able to Africanise RnB, Soul, and Pop. Tiwa has as well merged it succinctly with Afrobeats elements and given fans danceable and melodious Afropop songs that have made her a force to reckon with. Tiwa has four albums to her credit: Once upon a time, R.E.D, Sugarcane and recently released Celia, all of which are heavily Afrobeats influenced.
Rebecca Akosua Acheampomaa Acheampong is another notable Afropop singer, professionally known as Becca. The Ghanaian has been able to merge Highlife, RnB and Afrobeats to deliver melodious songs to fans and music lovers. Becca got more recognition in her sports related performances and caught the attention of many from such events.
Becca has three studio albums namely: Sugar, Time 4 Me and Unveiling to her credits, all of which have Afrobeats elements and influence. Becca has also collaborated with notable artists like Uhuru, 2face Idibia, Patoranking amongst others.
Simi is one powerhouse in the Afropop genre who must be given her roses while she can smell them. The Nigerian ability to dabble into different genres of music and marry them effectively with Afrobeats makes her a standout in her musical journey. Listening to her most times you would want to classify her genre of music as alternative rock. But in the last 5 years she has shown her versatility as Simi has sung soulful songs, rap song and effectively giving the Afropop vibe.
Simi has three albums; Ogaju, Simisola, Omo Charlie Champagne, Vol. 1 all of which have heavy Afrobeats influence. Simi (real name Simisola Kosoko) is one of the few Nigerian artists whose album has charted on Billboard.
The Ghanaian artist Ebony Reigns, who came from the dancehall and Afrobeats arm of Afropop but whose reign was cut short by death in 2018, deserves mention here. Ebony’s death many believed cut short her reach.
Another name becoming a force in recent times is Sista Afia, whose real name is Francisca Gawugah who also hails from Ghana. Sista Afia gained recognition following her collaboration with the leader of the Shatta Movement, fellow Ghanaian Shatta Wale on her single Jeje. Though she has no albums to her credit, yet her songs made her relevant enough to be mentioned.
Teni is another Afropop music star who has everything going for her and in few years from now could shatter every glass ceiling before her. The Nigerian has the creativity, the sonorous voice and the versatility to flow and sing the Afropop genre and danceable songs. She has many singles like Wait, Fargin, Askamaya, Case, Uyo Meyo and Power Rangers which have been keeping Afropop lovers entertained. Teni has two Eps, Billionaire and The Quarantine Playlist, to her credit and fans are awaiting her sophomore album.
The young Wendy Addo whose stage name is Wendy Shay is an upcoming Afropop star that is catching the attention of Afropop lovers on music platforms. She has an album Shay on You to her credit and has collaborated with notable fellow Ghanaian acts such as Sarkodie, Shatta Wale and many others.
* Yemi Babalola, a Media and Communication student of Technische Universität Ilmenau, Germany, is an intern at the African Courier Media