Over the last three decades, the sound of African music has undergone considerable fine-tuning, leaving many artists and direct actors in the music business reaping the benefits and creating names for themselves on a national and worldwide scale.
The birth of a new genre of music that was a fine blend of traditional African music genres such as highlife and fuji with Western music genres such as hip hop, R&B, and pop has been dominating the world music scene for some time.
In 2023, several of the musicians who released songs within the Afrobeats genre were rewarded with streams, awards, and recognitions around the world.
Here are five Afrobeats songs that dominated the music scene in 2023:
Lonely at the Top – Asake
With his sophomore album, Work of Art, Nigeria’s Asake extended his unrivaled run in the world of music. Lonely at the Top, one of the album’s numerous highlights, takes a nice diversion away from the amapiano-inflected sound for which the street-pop singer has become famous. “Out here on the road chasing my dream because I know no one can chase it for me,” Asake sings as he recounts his rise to the pinnacle of his profession.
Unavailable – Davido feat. Musa Keys
On Davido’s Timeless album, the Unavailable hit song was considered the most prominent single from the album. Unavailable is a perfect blend of Amapiano and Afrobeats genres, with both genres smoothly burnishing each other, with a superb assist from South African producer Musa Keys. Its meteoric success, global dance challenges, and Grammy nomination attest to its inventiveness.
Water – Tyla
Tyla’s sensuous, global smash Water was embraced by everyone across the world, and its viral dance challenge mirrored techniques from Bacardi, a form of house music peculiar to her home nation, South Africa. TikTok videos with the hashtag “tylawater” have been seen nearly 1.2 billion times, and that’s only a taste of how captivating her breezy voice and precise rhythms become. While Water has risen and attracted global megastars, Tyla’s modest but potent discography already demonstrates that it wasn’t a fluke, she’s the genuine deal.
Princess Going Digital – Amaarae
Baddies all around the world got down to Ghanaian-American emerging artiste Amaarae‘s Princess Going Digital single last year. The song, which appears on the singer’s critically praised Fountain Baby album, is a standout in the 29-year-old’s illustrious catalogue, delving into the challenges of identity and self-love in the digital era over an addictive Afro-angst beat. Amaarae’s lovely vocals glitter on the groovy, synthy track, setting a new career high for the vocalist.
People – Libianca
Libianca’s Afro-soul song went viral in 2023 owing to People, which bravely tackles the intricacies of human connections and mental health with unusual vulnerability. Breaking into the mainstream is a tremendous achievement for a Cameroonian artist like Libianca. The People hit song was mesmerised by the force of genuineness that led to Libianca’s worldwide ascension. As the most played song by a female Afrobeats artist on Spotify, it affirms Libianca’s current presence and foreshadows its durability.
Sability -Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr, a Nigerian singer and first-time Grammy contender, has often demonstrated her ability to create deceptively lighthearted tracks. Starr takes Coupé Bibamba from the great Congolese singer Awilo Logomba in Sability, one of her biggest successes in 2023, and ends it with a unique Afropop twist. Starr, who secured her first VMA nomination this year, is anchored in her bad-bitch spirit on this record and challenges anybody to tell her otherwise.
Party No Dey Stop – Adekunle Gold and Zinoleesky
Adekunle Gold manages to be reflective on Party No Dey Stop, a party song. Gold’s lyricism is at its most creative in this song, which includes Nigerian street-pop musician Zinoleesky. While Gold’s early, softer-toned, folk-driven sound has been replaced, his transfer into the high-energy regions of Afropop has been a seamless, extremely fulfilling quest for both himself and the listeners of his music.
Tested, Approved & Trusted – Burna Boy
Burna Boy’s romantic side is one of his greatest, notably on I Told Them…, his excellent seventh studio album. The LP doesn’t shy away from the typical chest puffing, but he’s boyishly infatuated with his Tested, Approved & Trusted single, twisting his exquisite, Afro-Caribbean flow into some serious game. It has a cool bounce and light sprinkles of saxophone, similar to other of Burna’s great hits like On the Low and Like to Party.
Who is Your Guy? (Remix) – Spyro feat. Tiwa Savage
Spyro’s Who Is Your Guy? was an Afrobeats song for the entire family in 2023, beloved by both senior aunties and younger cousins. As Spyro sincerely embraces platonic love, especially amongst males, the joy in its production is bright and familiar. Tiwa Savage uses this enthusiasm and goes with it on the remix, thanking and admiring industry colleagues like Don Jazzy and Olamide, among others.