Last month on the Breakfast Club, Cassper Nyovest, the South African hip-hop star, hit DJ Envy with one of the most necessary clapbacks of 2017.
Envy: “People don’t realize how big Afrobeats is–”
Nyovest: “I’m a hip-hop act.”
With respect to African music, 2017 has been a formidable year. From international co-signs and sold out North American tours (Sauti Sol, Wizkid, Davido, Yemi Alade) to festival lineups and talks at Google and Midem – African musicians are carving out an important space in the larger global music landscape. I mean, Cassper Nyovest’s on the Breakfast Club – it’s big. But despite the exposure, there’s still a staggering amount of ignorance with respect to the diversity of sound on the continent, hence Envy’s blunder. Few people outside of an African context understand that the “Afrobeats” movement is really concentrated in two countries, Nigeria and Ghana–and even within these countries, there are offshoots and alternative sounds popping up in the popular music scene that shouldn’t be labeled as Afrobeats. Africa is producing stars in hip-hop, electronic music, and R&B, not to mention the hundreds of scenes specific to certain regions. To limit African artists to one sonic bucket perpetuates the ignorance and erasure of our cultural complexities that Africans have faced for centuries.
I could go on for days, but then again the President of the United States thinks “Nambia” is a country in Africa. So, rather than continue this lecture, let me show you through these gems from the continent’s up and coming talent.
1. T.O.M, “Night Flowers. (Prod. Abucus),” (South Africa)
2. NU FVNK X SICHANGI, “JUNKY,” (Kenya)
3. A-Reece, “Feelings (feat. Flame),” (South Africa)
4. Pierre Kwenders, “Sexus Plexus Nexus,” (Congo/Canada)
5. OzzyB/Santi, “Jungle Fever Ft. Genio & Odunsi,” (Nigeria)