1. AKA – Baddest
Kiernan Forbes, better known as AKA, is a South African hiphop artist who first noticed on the music scene in 2002. He has come a long way since he was part of the rap group Entity which produced the hit titled ‘Touch N Go’ and was nominated in 2005 for ‘Best African Hip Hop’ at the KORA Awards. The group disbanded in 2006, and in 2009, AKA dropped his debut solo album titled Alter Ego’ which featured his top singles ‘Victory Lap’, ‘All I Know’ and ‘Bang’ featuring Khuli Chana. He released his sophomore album in 2014 titled ‘Levels’ which featured smash hits such as ‘Congratulate’ and ‘Run Jozi’ with K.O. His biggest singles for 2015 include the collaboration with Nigeria’s Burna Boy and South Africa’s Da L.E.S and JR. The single scooped the Best Collaboration award at the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards and the 2015 Afrimmas, and stayed on the number one spot on the iTunes Chart for nine consecutive weeks. His second single ‘Baddest’ featuring Burna Boy, Yanga and Khuli Chana is also on the iTunes Top 100 charts. He recently recorded a remix of the song featuring some of South Africa’s top female rappers Gigi Lamayne, Fifi Cooper, Rouge and Moozlie.
2. Yemi Alade – Johnny
Nigerian pop singer Yemi Alade took the music world by storm after winning the maiden edition of the Peak Talent Show in 2009. Previously, she was part of a girl group called Noty Spices which was managed by Storm Management. She signed to Effyzzie Music Group in 2012, and released the successful single titled ‘Ghen Ghen Love.’ Her breakthrough record was the 2013 smash hit titled ‘Johnny’ produced by Selebobo, which has since been listed as one of the best songs of 2013. The video for the song has since garnered over 31 million views on YouTube, and earned Yemi two Headies awards in 2014 for Best Pop Single and Song of the Year. She scooped up the Best Female West Africa award at the 2015 Afrimmas and Best Female at the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards. The song is from her album titled ‘King of Queens’.
3. WizKid – Ojuelegba
Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known as WizKid, is a Nigerian artist, songwriter and performer who rose to prominence in 2010 with the release of the song ‘Holla At Your Body’ from his debut studio album titled ‘Superstar’. His second studio album titled ‘Ayo’, released under Starboy Entertainment, featured the song that would set him apart as one of Africa’s biggest artists titled ‘Ojuelegba’. The ‘Ayo’ album reached the number one spot in the iTunes world music category in less than 24 hours of its release, and ‘Ojuelegba’ was remixed by prominent hiphop artists Drake and Skepta. The video for the song has since amassed over 5 million views on YouTube. He has won numerous awards, including Song of the Year for ‘Ojuelegba’ at the 2015 Afrimmas, Most Gifted Duo/Group or Featuring at the 2014 Channel O Music Video Awards, Artist of the Year at the 2012 Headies Awards and Best International Act Africa at the 2012 BET Awards. He has landed notable endorsements, including a Pepsi endorsement with fellow musician Tiwa Savage in 2012. He made history in 2014 by becoming the first ever Nigerian musician to have over 1 million followers on Twitter.
4. Davido – Various Songs
Davido is one of Africa’s most prominent artists who rose to fame in 2011 with the release of his debut album titled ‘Omo Baba Olowo’. The album’s lead single was the song titled ‘Back Then’, but the song that put him on the African map and the one that topped most music charts, including the YFM music charts and GoldMyne’s top 10 songs of 2012 list was ‘Dami Duro’ featuring American-Senegalese hiphop artist Akon. The popularity of “Dami Duro” extended to the political world, where the governor of Oyo State in Nigeria Abiola Ajimobi sang the song while giving a speech at the University of Ibadan. His 2014 single ‘Aye’ gained massive popularity on the continent, amassing over 27 million views on YouTube and winning numerous awards including Song of the Year at the 2014 Headies and Hottest Single of the Year at the 2014 Nigerian Entertainment Awards. ‘Skelewu’ was another smash hit from Davido which topped most music charts on the continent including reaching number 1 on Afribiz’s Top 100 chart. The dance for the song was very popular, with Davido releasing an instructional dance video for the song and creating a competition out the video were fans created and uploaded videos of themselves dancing to the song. Other popular hits include ‘Tchelete (Goodlife)’ which is a collaboration with South African pop duo Mafikizolo, ‘Naughty’ featuring Ivorian DJ Afafat and ‘Fans Mi’ featuring US rapper Meek Mill. Davido has won numerous awards including Music Video of the Year for ‘Aye’ at the 2014 Ben TV Awards, Best International Act: Africa at the 2014 BET Awards, Best Male West Africa at the 2015 Afrimmas and Best Male at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards. He is co-owner of the music label HKN Music, which he owns with his elder brother Adewale Adeleke.
5. Cassper Nyovest – Doc Shebeleza
South African hiphop artist Cassper Nyovest was born as Refiloe Maele Phoolo in Mafikeng in the North West province. He kicked off his career in 2003 after being inspired by his late brother Khotso Motebang Phoolo who was also a rap artist. He was part of a music group in 2004 called CHG (Childhood Gangsters) with fellow producer Ganja Beatz. After a number of setbacks, including a failed record deal with Impact Sounds and an unsuccessful business venture that was owning his own label, Cassper finally got his big break as a solo act in 2013 with the release of his hit single titled ‘Gusheshe’ after performing with fellow rapper HHP on his track titled ‘Wamo Tseba Mtho’ from his ‘Dumela’ album and touring with the South African heavyweight on a number of international tours. Cassper then dropped his most successful single titled ‘Doc Shebeleza’ after the release of ‘Gusheshe’. The song was from his debut album titled ‘Tsholofelo’, and it topped most music charts in Africa, including the 5FM, Channel O and YFM music charts. The song was also featured on DSTV’s ‘Feel Every Moment’ campaign in 2014, and earned him the Song of the Year Award at the SA Hip Hop Awards in 2014 as well as various Channel O Music Video Awards in 2014. The song has garnered over 1.3 million views on Twitter and has a remix version featuring US hip hop artist Talib Kewli. Cassper also made history in October 2015 by being the first South African hip hop artist to fill up one of South Africa’s biggest concert venues, the Ticketpro Dome, which can hold 20,000 people.
6. Sauti Sol – Sura Yako
Sauti Sol is an award-winning afro pop group from Kenya consisting of four band members Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Polycarp Otieno and Savara Mudigi. The band was formed in 2005, and in 2006, they gained recognition after participating in the Spotlight on Kenyan Music competition, hosted by the Alliance française in Nairobi. They later signed a deal with Penya Records. They released two critically acclaimed albums titled Mwanzo (2008) and Sol Filosofia (2011), and have also released a self-titled EP with South African hip hop artist and producer Spoek Mathambo. They are currently topping the music charts with the single that is off their 3rd studio album ‘Live and Die in Afrika’ titled ‘Sura Yako’. The single also caused a social media craze with the Lipala dance competition that fans did for fun. The single has over 2 million views on YouTube, and is one of their most downloaded songs on iTunes. The song has also earned the group various awards, including Most Downloaded Single at the 2015 Mdundo Music Awards, Producers of the Year for ‘Sura Yako’ at the 2014 Afrimmas and the YouTube Channel Award at the 2015 OLX SOMA Awards. Other popular singles include ‘Money Lover’, ‘Still the One’, ‘Coming Home’ from their sophomore album ‘Sol Filosofia’, ‘Nerea’ featuring Amos and Josh and ‘Nishike’.
7. Mavin Records – Dorobucci
Mavin Records is a Nigerian-based record label which was founded by artist and producer Don Jazzy in 2012. The label is home to some of Nigeria’s top musical acts, including Tiwa Savage, Dr. Sid, D’ Prince, Reekado Banks, Korede Bello and Di’Ja. In 2014, Mavins release their chart-topping hit titled ‘Dorobucci’. The song has garnered 14 million views on YouTube, and won Song of the Year at the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards. The song was also in the top 3 spot for the most watched Nigerian music videos on YouTube in 2014.
8. Diamond Platnumz – Nasema Nawe
Diamond Platnumz is a Tanzanian bongo flava and afropop artist and dancer who is best known for his hit single ‘Number One’. He is one of Tanzania’s most prolific artists and is said to be one of the highest paid musicians in the African Great Lakes region. His current chart topper is a track titled ‘Nasema Nawe’ and features Khadija Kopa. The video for the song has garnered over 5 million views on YouTube. Diamond Platnumz recently scooped up an MTV EMA award for Best African/Indian Act, and he won Best Male East Africa at the 2015 Afrimmas as well as Best Live Act at the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards. He also features in our list of the Top 10 African Music Videos of 2015 [based on YouTube video views].