Tyla: Meet The Afrobeats Wondergirl Whose “Water” Song Is Flowing Everywhere

BY Edwin Lamptey October 20, 2023 8:42 PM EDT
Photo Source: Instagram/tyla

Ever since the new Afrobeats-themed song Water, started making waves and living rent-free in the minds and on the lips of many people worldwide, the search for the song’s creator started.

The soothing female voice behind the now-No.1 Afrobeats Song in the US belonged to none other but a young songstress known as Tyla. It would take time for people to dig into her career and life to know more about her.

The 21-year-old singer and dancer, would not have imagined a few months ago that she was going to be sitting on top of the world despite being relatively new to the music game.

As fate would have it, the young singer’s latest single, Water has taken the world by surprise and is trending.

According to Luminate, Tyla’s Water hit single, which was released in July this year on FAX Records/Epic Records under Sony Music, arrived on the chart with 6.4 million official streams (up 22%), 3.1 million radio airplay audience impressions (up 128%) and 1,000 downloads sold (up 9%) in the United States from September 29 to October 5 tracking week.

TikTok played a significant role in the song’s growing profile. A portion of the track has soundtracked over 600,000 clips on the platform, largely to a viral dance challenge.

Tyla is comparatively a new arrival to Billboard’s charts. She charted one song prior to WaterBeen Thinking reached No. 27 on Rhythmic Airplay and No. 36 on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay earlier this year.

Outside of Water and Been Thinking, Tyla has released four additional songs on various digital music streaming platforms. These include Getting Late with Kooldrink, Overdue featuring DJ Lag and Kooldrink, To Last (with a remix featuring DJ Maphorisa and Young Stunna) and Girl Next Door with Nigeria’s Ayra Starr. She has also collaborated with the likes of Major Lazer, Daliwonga, Marioo and Kelvin Momo.

Talking on GQ South Africa, the younger Afrobeats/Amapiano queen opened up about the struggles and hurdles she went through with her team to get the elaborate music video done. She stated how everything had to be paused for two years due to COVID-19.

“I have never cried as much as I did last year,” Tyla confessed. “We set out wanting to make the best music video South Africa has ever seen, and it just felt like every success was followed by a hundred failures,” the new sensation noted.

“Everything you see, we did by ourselves. No major label deal, no investors, we handmade outfits, built sets, we worked for favors, [and] pushed harder than I thought possible. I don’t know if it’s the hottest video South Africa has ever seen, that’s for you to decide. But what I do know is that I had never imagined in my life to look at something that I had made and be so proud”, Tyla added.

A Johannesburg native, Tyla grew up listening to American R&B triple-threats like Aaliyah and Cassie. These MTV TRL tunes of the 2000s combined with a curation of homegrown sonics like SA House and Amapiano have a major influence on her music. She is part of an active new generation of African creatives, proudly sharing their culture with the global community on social media. 

“I’m proud of being South African and I want to take Africa everywhere I go. It’s amazing how social media connects me with the world. TikTok allows me to express myself and show the world our South African dance moves like Pouncing Cat and the Gwara Gwara,” said Tyla.

Sony Music describes her voice as a breath of fresh air. She also became the first South African soloist in 55 years to enter the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, following Hugh Masekela’s Grazing in the Grass in 1968.

Born Tyla Laura Seethal, her Water song has overthrown Rema and Selena Gomez’s Calm Down to become No.1 on the US Afrobeats Charts. 

The Calm Down song which enjoyed monopoly for a period of 58 weeks since September 10 this year was taken over by Tyla’s Water. This marks the young South African star’s debut on the Billboard Chart.

Prior to that, Water had trended as part of the top 10 songs on the UK Singles Chart.

The song also reached a new peak on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at Number 63 and on Canadian Hot 100 “Water” moved to No. 64 after peaking at No. 53.

In Japan, Water entered the Spotify Viral50 at No. 10, while according to Mediabase, it was Tyla’s first song to enter the Top 40 on US Rhythmic radio.

Tyla’s viral song has become a global hit making the charts all over the world on Apple Music, Shazam, Spotify, and iTunes in several countries.