One of the best things about the Afrobeats space is the sheer quality of talent within it’s underground scene. Every Friday is a gentle reminder of this fact. The songwriting quality, lyrical depth and overall production quality shows that a number of rising acts actually pay attention to the important things. The difference between songs you might come across and those that go virtually unheard is nothing but PR. It’s no longer a question of talent.
Today, a sizeable marketing budget, the right placements and a little luck must combine for obscure talent to become mainstream success. The fact simply is, a lot of talent lack a sizeable marketing budget, and leave quite a lot to Lady Luck. Sometimes, this works. Most recent breakout stories sound exactly like that formula. Check Joeboy. Check Fireboy. But these guys are in the 0.1%. Here are a few underground talents just outside the mainstream you can watch out for.
I genuinely believe that the prospects for Fave are limitless. In an industry saturated with talent. Male talent. This woman has everything it takes to dominate. Her latest single “Beautifully” is catchy, corny, pure and perfect. If you’re making a playlist of love songs from 2021, it’ll be difficult to ignore Fave’s mesmerising voice on “Beautifully”.
A fantastic run of singles earned her 2 features on Olamide’s latest project, UY Scutii— “Want” and “PonPon”. The latter is my personal favourite on the project, an emphatic blend of hip-hop, dancehall and R&B. Here’s a link to her music.
The identical twins responsible for some of my favourite songs will not go unmentioned. Since the release of their debut extended play, Made in the Tropics, Frank and Namdy have been on rise within the Afrobeats scene today. Last year saw the duo garner nearly 40,000 hours of streams from Spotify alone. In May, they announced that one of my favourite records “Tumbo Tumbo” hit 1 million streams on Spotify. I’m waiting to see more wins from their latest effort “Abosede”.
Here’s why you should listen to Boybreed. Firstly, they’re confident, you’ll hear it when you listen to the music. They’re also putting back the pop in Afrobeats— no, not that generic version everyone else is failing at. Actual pop— that one that has you bopping your head. The one that hits at 1am when Lagos is quiet and your neighbour’s generator stops ravaging your space with it’s incessant bleating. Plus, if you’re big on love-themed songs (like me), you’d thoroughly enjoy music from the duo.
You may or may not have heard about Yusufkanbai (now YKBonly). Maybe you saw his open letter mto Wande Coal? Or not. He once described himself as a “multitalented bastard”. Well, I think he is. He’s really good.
My sister, Titilayo put me on. Now, I’m putting you on too. It’s his songwriting. It’s glorious how he packs so much of the street into creating melodies (the only close comparator is Mayorkun) no one else does it better. It’s how intentional he is about retaining the fun bits of the creative process. It’s his willingness to experiment with his music. It’s only an artiste that’s intentional about enjoying the process that comes up with lyrics like
“Alabama, se ibe l’eti ra amala”YKB— Alabama (Freestyle)
“no more Oshofree eh! Why I go dey gum body?”YKB— Oshofree (ft. s3nami
This guy does insane numbers on Audiomack (a few of his recent works have been exclusive to Audiomack). A few hours ago, he announced something he called “YKB-piano” on his Instagram and it’s sounding good already. YKB is primed for something huge and everyone should get on board fast.