In recent years, African musicians have been making waves and breaking barriers on global charts, leaving an enduring imprint on the music industry. This article explores the top African acts who have earned an entry into the Billboard Hot 100 with their chart-topping hits.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the iconic Hot 100 Charts. Serving as the definitive music industry benchmark in the United States, these charts are published by Billboard magazine weekly. Rankings on the chart are determined by a combination of sales (both physical and digital), online streaming, and radio airplay in the U.S.
In celebration of the chart’s August 4, 1958 inauguration, presented below is the comprehensive list of African artists throughout history who have earned an entry on this esteemed U.S. songs chart.
1. Seether – 7 Entries
Originally named “Saron Gas”, the South African band transitioned to “Seether” before achieving international acclaim. Their music style blends post-grunge, alternative, and intricate rock elements, featuring emotionally charged lyrics and a raw sound. The band’s breakthrough came with the US Active Rock hit “Fine Again” in 2002, propelling Seether to mainstream recognition. The momentum was sustained with “Broken,” their fourth single on the chart.
2. Tems – 5 Entries
Tems quickly became a sought-after artist for collaborations and features. Her collaboration with Nigerian superstar Wizkid on the track “Essence” from his album “Made in Lagos” further solidified her presence in the music industry. The song gained massive popularity, showcased her ability to blend her style with Afrobeat influences seamlessly, and peaked at number 9 on Billboard after Justin Bieber was featured on the song. Following the success of “Essence”, she got Drake’s feature on his music “Fountain” which peaked on the Billboard chart. Her old song – “Higher”, was also sampled by Future, which gave her double doze success of Grammy and Billboard Entry.
3. Wizkid – 4 Entries
Wizkid’s most significant entry on the Billboard Hot 100 was through his collaboration with Canadian rapper Drake on the hit single “One Dance.” The song, which also featured British singer Kyla, was a massive global success and spent several weeks atop the Hot 100 chart. Following the success of “One Dance,” Wizkid and Drake teamed up once again for the song “Come Closer”. While not reaching the same level of chart dominance as their previous collaboration, “Come Closer” made an entry on the Billboard Hot 100. His classic hit ‘Essence’ featuring Tems and Justin Bieber off Made In Lagos reached the top 10 on the chart.
4. Hugh Masekela – 4 Entries
Hugh Masekela was a South African jazz musician, trumpeter, composer, and anti-apartheid activist. He was born on April 4, 1939, in Witbank, South Africa, and passed away on January 23, 2018. While he was alive, Masekela was an influential figure in both the music world and the fight against apartheid. Hugh Masekela’s most notable entry on the chart was with his instrumental track “Grazing in the Grass”. The song achieved significant success and became one of his signature hits.
5. Burna Boy – 3 Entries
One of Burna Boy’s notable tracks, “Ye,” impacted the chart. While it didn’t reach the upper echelons of the chart, it did receive attention and helped solidify Burna Boy’s international recognition. Another track that contributed to Burna Boy’s Billboard Hot 100 presence was “Last Last’’ which peaked at 44 on the chart.
6. Four Jacks And A Jill – 3 Entries
“Four Jacks and a Jill” is a South African folk rock ensemble. One of their notable songs is “Master Jack,” their most successful hit and made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. “Master Jack” by Four Jacks and a Jill peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968.
7. Miriam Makeba – 2 Entries
Miriam Makeba, a South African singer famous for his civil rights activism, had a notable Billboard Hot 100 entry with her song “Pata Pata — one of her most well-known songs and achieved success on the charts. “Pata Pata” by Miriam Makeba peaked at number 12 on the chart in 1967.
8. Amaarae – 1 Entry
Ghanaian singer Amaarae is known for her unique blend of genres, incorporating elements of Afrobeat, R&B, and alternative pop into her music. Her song ”Sad Girlz Luv Money” remix with American singer Kali Uchis contributed to her visibility on the international scene and earned her first and only entry on the chart.
9. Ckay – 1 Entry
Ckay is known for his versatile music style that incorporates elements of Afrobeat, R&B, and pop. His global anthem, “Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah)”, released in 2020, became a commercial success and peaked at No. 26 on the chart.
10. Fireboy DML – 1 Entry
Nigerian star Fireboy, born Adedamola Adefolahan, collaborated with British singer Ed Sheeran on the chart-topping hit “Peru”. The song dominated the Hot 100 for weeks and became a global sensation.
11. Rema – 1 Entry
Rema, a rising star in the Afrobeats scene, achieved worldwide recognition with his 2022 hit “Calm Down”. He collaborated with Selena Gomez for a remix, which further propelled the song’s remarkable triumph. This track reached an impressive peak of number 3 on the Hot 100 chart.
12. Moliy – 1 Entry
Born Molly Ama Montgomery, popularly known as Moliy, is a singer and songwriter of Ghanaian and American Heritage. She got her first and only entry onto the Hot 100 song with her feature with Amaarae on “Sad Girls Luv Money”.
13. Manu Dibango – 1 Entry
Manu Dibango is a Cameroonian musician and songwriter who doubles as an instrumentalist who plays saxophone. His most famous song, “Soul Makossa”, gained international popularity and influence, and reached 35 on the Hot 100.
14. Libianca – 1 Entry
Cameroonian-American Afrobeats singer Libianca debuted on the Hot 100 with her breakthrough single “People”, which debuted at No. 91 on the chart dated May 13, 2023, marking her first entry.
15. Fuse ODG – 1 Entry
UK-based Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG achieved a significant milestone with his 2015 collaboration “Light It Up.” This track, created with the Jamaican-American electronic dance music trio Major Lazer and Jamaican singer-songwriter, debuted on the chart at 98 and eventually reached its peak at number 73. This marked the first time for the Antenna hitmaker to make an appearance on the chart.
The horizon appears hopeful for African artists on the Billboard Hot 100. As the worldwide music landscape embraces greater inclusivity and diversity, the demand for African music and its distinct sound is burgeoning. In tandem with the surge of streaming platforms and social media, artists now possess numerous channels to directly engage with their fans and cultivate a worldwide fanbase. Get a shade; the future of African music is undeniably bright.