While recent years in Afrobeats might have had immense breakthroughs for emerging artists (Omah Lay and Asake), 2023 is undoubtedly the year of the rising act, from a general perspective. These are the 10 rising acts that impressed us the most:
1. Qing Madi
Before the (alleged) farming of Apple Music Charts, it was possible to discover genuine sleeper hits in the lower rungs or genre divisions.
Madi’s debut single, “See Finish,” was one of those songs. Emotionally poignant, catchy and absolutely relatable, these traits have trailed all of her music since then.
Her collaboration with Bnxn, “Ole,” is perhaps the biggest single from an emerging artist in 2023, and her upcoming project is probably the most anticipated EP of any female artist this year.
One thing is clear: Qing Madi is bound to be the “life of many parties” in 2024.
We’re willing to bet that when you first heard Winny’s haunting ravaged on Instagram, you stopped scrolling and zeroed in immediately.
If you haven’t heard of her, we suggest you head to her catalogue and buy stocks now. Her breakout single, “Don’t Leave” was one of the most interesting yet catchy singles released this year.
Follow-ups like “Ghetto Feels” demonstrated her unrivalled ability to blend reggae and pop effortlessly. We REALLY recommend “Don’t Leave.” The moment you listen, you won’t.
3. Bloody Civilian
Perhaps the most critically acclaimed musician on this list, Bloody Civilian, is an artiste in every sense of the word, and she stands out for one clear reason.
While every artist on this list is different from the crowd, Bloody’s music is essentially experimental. First getting international notice for her work on the Wakanda Forever Soundtrack, her breakout single “How To Kill A Man” and its parent project, “Anger Management,” received widespread praise for their unconventional production and dark themes.
No one does what Bloody Civilian does. Quite simply, we can’t wait for more.
4. Dope Caesar
The Nigerian music industry is quintessentially dominated by men. But the DJ niche is especially harrowing for women.
Dope Ceasar’s tenacity and immense skill have helped her break the mould to become one of the leading female DJs in the country. Her viral set transitioning from Brick and Lace’s “Love is Wicked” to Victony’s “Soweto” displays only a fraction of her talent.
Transitioning into artistry as well, her debut single “Pop Sermon” with Fave and Ajebo Hustlers is a fantastic prophecy of everything about to happen for Dope Caesar. We honestly can’t wait.
First getting widespread industry notice in 2022 with his single “Comforter,” Llona has since gone on to demonstrate his abilities as Afrobeats’ master of soul.
His 2023 single, “HBP,” reflects on the pressures of getting older and navigating life amidst all the pressures along the way. The remix featuring Bella Shmurda was a masterstroke, both artistically and commercially.
Expect Llona to only get bigger and better in the upcoming year.
6. Wizard Chan
The first time we hear Wizard Chan’s voice on “Earth Song,” it’s a desperate cry reminiscent of the best of old-school reggae. The entire song is simply an experience. Expertly combining trap, indigenous music, and reggae, “Earth Song” is like no other song on this list, and Wizard Chan is spell-binding.
His 2023 Headies win for “Best Alternative Song” positions him as the clear breakout artist for Alternative Music in 2023. We can wait to hear what mysteries he’ll cook up in 2024.
Muis’ tender falsetto powers his breakthrough single, “Saati Ramoni”. Deeply personal and affecting, the song tells a touching story about betrayal from loved ones and the determination to rise above it.
Perhaps, what is most impressive about Muis is his knack for relatability and emotional resonance. In an industry dominated by club bangers and party starters, Muis makes music for the ones suffering silently. His music isn’t just beautiful, it’s essential.
Many artists on this list had viral songs and moments in 2023, but none had an intro quite as dominant as Yarden’s “Wetin”.The drum pattern, soulful coos, and relaxing chords make for one of the most “chill” songs that popped this year.
His debut EP, “The One Who Descends,” cemented him as one of the most calming new voices in African music. The indegenous yet soulful yearning of Yarden’s music is unlike any one else on this list, and we simply can’t wait to hear more.
When Chocolate City unveiled its new signee, TAR1Q, back in 2022, everyone could tell he was unique. With diverse influences like Davido, J. Cole, and Chris Brown, he displayed some of the unique sonics of any artist in the new generation. His potential was palpable.
With the release of his song “Pretty Like,” TAR1Q cemented the cult following he’d been growing since his debut project, “Son of the Moon.” With an artist this unique, anticipation takes on a new form, and 2024 is too far away.
Across every era in the evolution of Afrobeats, DJs have been quintessential to the building process. From OGs like Jimmy Jatt to modern dons like Spinall and Neptune, DJs have taken on a new life form, becoming full-blown artists themselves.
It’s therefore fitting that in this critical stage of Afrobeats’ expansion, Titanium is the name to know. With resident gigs at MainlandBlockParty and high-octane showings at events like “Rick Ross: Live In Lagos” and “The Yard,” Titanium is simply the DJ to watch out for.