Africa is home to extraordinary talent. From music to acting, to stand up comedy, a great number of gifted entertainers emerge every year to stake their claim with undeniable authority. 2015 was a great year for many, such as South African rapper Cassper Nyovest, who made history as the first local act to fill up the TicketPro Dome, a concert venue in Johannesburg with a capacity of 20,000. 2015 also produced a crop of new talent that will sure be on many people’s radar this year. The following 10 are just a sample representation of the countless rising and thriving African stars who are amazing in their respective fields.
Reniss – CAMEROON
Reniss’ lulling, alluring voice over catchy tribal beats has endeared her to her local fans, who have dubbed the singer the Pop Princess of Cameroon. Drawing influence from legends of African music such as the late South African singer Miriam Makeba, and Cameroonian Bebe Manga, Reniss has developed a style that mixes hip-hop and pop music, laced with African rhythms.
She released her second EP Milkish, in 2015, and her second album is slated to drop this year. The future looks exciting for the songstress.
Abraham Attah – GHANA
Ever since starring alongside Idris Elba in the critically acclaimed 2015 film Beasts of No Nation, Abraham Attah has been gaining oodles of international attention. The 14-year-old breakout star, who recently won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor at the Venice Film Festival, is a natural. It’s hard to believe that before Beasts of No Nation, he had never acted a day in his life.
The world can’t get enough of the young chap’s impressive acting skills and we’re glad we’ll be seeing more of him on the big screen as he’s set to appear in the upcoming adventure drama The Modern Ocean, where he’ll act alongside Hollywood stars such as Keanu Reeves and Anne Hathaway.
Gigi Lamayne – SOUTH AFRICA
If there’s one thing Gigi Lamayne has emphatically proven, it’s that female rappers are just as competitive as their male counterparts. Although the South African rapper has been on her grind for some time, she’s been less known in the mainstream, until last year when she came through with her explosive single Ice Cream, which features SA hip-hop heavyweight Khuli Chana. Since then it’s been smooth-sailing for Gigi, who recently took her craft outside South African borders with a performance in Zambia alongside Khuli Chana.
So what can we expect from Gigi this year? “In the first half of the year, I’m gonna release a mixtape titled Ground Zero. And in the second half of 2016, I’m gonna release my debut album, not yet titled. I’m also gonna do more collabos, release more singles and shoot more videos”, she tells us. She adds, on the state of hip-hop in Africa, “Africa is slowly becoming one continental village, there are now more collaborations with hip-hop artists from other African countries and it makes it easy for all of us to tour the African continent.”
Mankind – KENYA
They grabbed their country’s attention in 2015 with their debut single North, and now we have no doubt Africa will fall in love with Mankind, an eccentric alternative pop band whose music is an eclectic blend of uncommon and contrasting styles.
The four-member band’s ultimate ambition is to dominate not only the continent, but also the world stage, and last year they started taking steps towards the realisation of that dream by releasing their EP on global platforms, Amazon and Deeza.
With the group determined to change the Kenyan musical landscape and make their mark on the world, is the name Mankind an embodiment of their dreams and values? You bet! “Kenya is the cradle of mankind; that’s the reason we have outsized ambitions, we have conquered almost all marathons, we have won an Oscar, produced a president for a superpower. We sing for mankind, those who know both war and peace, the minds that made men fly, for our indomitable athletes that repeatedly astound the world, those who survived the Bubonic plague of Europe. Our music is for the globe,” the group told Business Today Kenya.
We’re looking forward to seeing Mankind excite mankind with their rich, scintillating sound.
Doc Vikela – ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe’s comedy scene is flourishing, thanks to a new generation of comedians like Doc Vikela. Doc worked as a high school teacher, and it wasn’t until 2011 that he decided to quit teaching and pursue a career as a comedian. It’s a decision that has paid off big time for the 29-year-old. Alongside fellow Zimbabwean comedian Simba the Comic King, Doc Vikela has gone on to form Simuka Comedy Club, which has since morphed into one of the biggest comedy brands in the country.
The “doctor” is known to poke fun of everyone from the president, Robert Mugabe, to corrupt politicians and police officers, to local celebrities. Here’s one of his famous gems: “Zimbabweans, for all our achievements in literacy – we have a 99.9995 percent literacy rate – we are the only country that will fail to answer a simple question: Who is your former president?”
Jojo Abot – GHANA
The Ghanaian singer burst onto the scenes last year with her spellbinding EP Fyfya, narrating the story of a fictional character (Fyfya), who is “caught in a compromising situation with her Caucasian lover in a time of slavery and divide,” she explains.
Singing about pain and struggle, freedom, and the beauty of Africa, Jojo truly captivates with her poignant and calm voice over hypnotic experimental sounds. You can’t expect less from an artist who mentions Simphiwe Dana, Thandiswa Mazwai, Lucky Dube, Savage Rose, and Seeed among her influences.
Jojo shares her time between Accra, Copenhagen, and New York, and when she’s not in studio writing thought-provoking lyrics, she’s busy flexing her acting and modeling muscles. With a sophomore EP in the works, 2016 can only be great for Jojo.
Anne Kansiime – UGANDA
Dubbed Africa’s Queen of Comedy, Anne Kansiime is famous for her viral rib-cracking skits, which garner millions of views on social media. But make no mistake, the 28-year-old Ugandan’s comedic prowess transcends the realms of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – as she performs at sold out shows around Africa.
Last year she took her talents to countries including South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda, where she left fans in stitches and calling for an encore. We can’t wait to witness the comedic fire she’ll deliver in 2016.
Fulu Mugovhani – SOUTH AFRICA
She’s known for her role as Anzani in popular South African soapie Scandal!, but now Fulu Mugovhani’s success has reached new heights, thanks to her lead role in the 2015 South African film, Ayanda. Fulu has received global rave reviews for her performance in this coming of age film, which got the attention of the international market.
In 2011, after graduating from the Tshwane University of Technology with a musical theatre degree, at the age of 21, Fulu went from student to working actress when she was cast as Nala in the Lion King, Hong Kong musical. During that period, the 26-year-old actress from the Limpopo province of South Africa resided in Hong Kong for a year and a half.
Fulu made her TV debut in 2013 with the role of Nikki in the Mzansi Magic musical comedy-drama Remix. It was in the same year that she scored a role in the aforementioned soapie, Scandal!.
While she enjoys the small screen, Fulu’s dream has always been to star on the big screen, and her role in the Ayanda film is a big stride in her career. The role has earned her a nomination for “Best Actress in a Drama” category of the 2016 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards.
If rumours are to be believed, we can expect bigger things from Fulu this year.
Kiss Daniel – NIGERIA
For some artists, it takes a string of singles or even albums to get the recognition and to the level of fame they deserve. Not so for Anidugbe Daniel, popularly known as Kiss Daniel. The 21-year-old Afropop singer’s stratospheric rise to continental fame came after the release of his second official single Woju in late 2014. The song dominated the airwaves in 2015, culminating in a nomination for the “Hottest Single” category at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
If you happened to tune into music channels like Trace Africa and MTV Base at any given point last year, you were bound to be greeted by Daniel’s Woju music video, which peaked at number one on MTV Base’s Official Naija Top 10 music video chart for six weeks. With Kiss Daniel set to perform in the UK in March this year, 2016 sure looks to be yet another great year for the Naija boy.
C2K – KENYA
With hip-hop becoming a relatable and profitable genre in Africa, competition in the industry is mounting. Each year brings us gifted and rhyme-slaying rappers like C2K, who took the Kenyan music industry by storm last year with his hit single, Lupita, a hard-hitting, drum-heavy joint inspired by none other than the Oscar-winning Kenyan actress herself.
C2K, who describes himself as “a self-conscious rapper with a style that is diverse, poetic, and original”, capitalises on catchy punchlines and powerful vocals over trap beats.
Having started rapping at a young age, he perfected his craft and skill over the years engaging in rap battles – at the tender age of 16 he battled it out with famous Kenyan rapper CMB Prezzo. Even as a varsity student in Cape Town, South Africa, C2K never lost his touch and kept writing raps and recording songs.
Not at a lot of new kids on the block can brag about a performance in foreign countries, but for C2K it’s a different story. His hit singles saw him stage a show in Dubai last year.