African music has an unmatched ability to resonate with the soul, and the R&B genre is no exception. African R&B has carved its distinct identity on the global music stage by blending heartfelt lyrics, mesmerizing melodies, and soulful vocals.
From West Africa to the continent’s southern tip, let’s explore the realm of African R&B as we introduce you to some of its standout artistes.
Although primarily known for her Alté and Afrofusion sound, Tems’s versatility shines in her R&B-infused tracks. Her honeyed, smooth vocals and passionate delivery have earned her recognition as a true African R&B powerhouse. It’s evident in her debut body of work, ‘For Broken Ears’ and her sophomore project – ‘If Orange Was A Place’. She has been featured on the projects of globally recognized artistes like Drake and Future.
2. Tiwa Savage
Of all female artistes in Nigeria, no one has stayed consistent more than the Afrobeats poster Queen, Tiwa Savage, who has bagged the tag – ‘Queen Of Afrobeats’. Before the ‘Afrobeats To The World’ agenda became the watchword that skyrocketed the genre into the global sound framework, and before she switched to the Afrobeats sound, Tiwa Savage’s sound was entirely inspired by the R&B genre. Her powerful vocals and heartfelt lyrics have earned her a well-deserved place as the reigning queen of R&B. She has stated that her next project will be strictly R&B, and we can’t wait.
3. King Promise
King Promise, the Ghanaian R&B sensation, has truly made his mark in the music world. His velvety-smooth vocals and knack for crafting irresistible melodies have earned him fame in Ghana and captured the hearts of fans across the entire continent. King’s rise to fame is due to his ability to blend R&B, highlife, and Afrobeats influences to create a profoundly resonating sound. He has collaborated with other top artistes like Simi, Kojo Antwi, and Omah Lay, solidifying his status as one of the leading African R&B musicians to watch.
Simi’s sonorous, angelic voice and relatable lyrics have earned her a special place in the hearts of R&B enthusiasts. Throughout her illustrious career in the music industry, she has perfected the art of blending traditional Nigerian sounds with contemporary R&B, setting herself apart. It’s evident on chart-topping tracks like; ‘Move on, ‘Nobody’, ‘Duduke’ and her recent release – ‘Stranger.’
5. Langa Mavuso
Langa Mavuso, originally from South Africa, is a rising star in R&B. His sultry voice and talent for expressing deep emotions make him a standout artiste in this genre. His first EP, “Liminal Sketches,” released in 2016, quickly attracted an audience and a dedicated fanbase who appreciated his exceptional music. Langa’s songs feature soulful, heartfelt, and poetic lyrics, with a focus on R&B themes.
6. Fireboy DML
Fireboy DML is a Nigerian singer-songwriter and undoubtedly one of the leading artistes of his generation who has emerged as a shining star in the realm of R&B. With his soulful voice, emotionally charged lyrics, and chart-topping hits on his albums, ‘Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps’, ‘Apollo’ and ‘Playboy’ Fireboy, DML has established himself as a prominent figure in the contemporary R&B scene. In a recent interview with CNN’s African Voices Changemakers, he reaffirmed R&B as a significant influence.
Asa’s soulful music transcends borders, often delving into R&B territory with her evocative storytelling and soothing melodies. She has mastered folk music and afro-soul, which stands as the core of her genre and has morphed into her own memorable R&B songs. It’s distinct. The voice, the message, and the poetry — it captures emotions in a way that resonates universally. She shined brightly on ‘Bibanke’ and displayed her sonic R&B range on ‘Moving On’.
Nigerian musician CKay has been making waves in the African music scene with his versatile talent. Known for his unique blend of Afrobeats, R&B, and pop, CKay’s music is characterized by catchy melodies and relatable lyrics. His breakout colossal hit “Love Nwantiti” garnered international attention and became a viral sensation, propelling him to greater prominence. With a growing cult fanbase and endless achievements, CKay is undoubtedly one of the best African R&B musicians.
9. Nonso Amadi
Nonso Amadi’s voice is a powerful example of authenticity. Although he originates from Nigeria, he now resides in Canada. His R&B style is strongly influenced by Western elements, resulting in music that seamlessly blends African sounds with contemporary sensibilities. His latest album, ‘When It Blooms,’ is a testament to this R&B-infused musical journey.
10. Adekunle Gold
Adekunle Gold’s R&B-inflected tracks have garnered him a massive following. His ability to combine poignant lyrics with melodies that linger in the mind showcases his prowess as an R&B artiste. He displays his unique style of merging R&B with urban highlife sound on his ‘Afro Pop, Vol. 1’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can’ albums.
Hailing from Ghana, Amaarae is celebrated for her velvety vocals and her knack for stirring emotions with her music. Her R&B compositions effortlessly fuse with elements of pop and Afrobeat, creating a captivating sonic fusion. African R&B, a mesmerizing musical genre, draws inspiration from the continent’s rich musical legacy while embracing contemporary sounds and sensibilities, resulting in a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.
12. Omah Lay
Stanley Omah Didia, popularly known as Omah Lay, is a Nigerian singer-songwriter who has swiftly risen to prominence in the global music scene over the four years of his emergence into the Nigerian mainstream market. Many have tagged his music – ‘Afro-Depression’ because of the heavy emotions his music carries as an R&B artiste. With his unique voice and emotionally charged lyrics, Omah Lay’s lyrics often touch on themes of love, relationships, and the human experience, resonating profoundly with listeners. His tracks on ‘Get Layd’ EP showcase his mastery in fusing Afro sounds with R&B music.
Kidi is one of the famous Ghanaian singers and songwriters who has been at the forefront of the music scene and making waves in the realm of R&B. With his smooth vocals and relatable lyrics, What sets Kidi apart as an R&B is his soulful melodies. These songs, “Adiepena,” “Odo,” and “Thunder.” showcased Kidi’s ability to blend heartfelt R&B melodies with infectious rhythms, making them instant favorites among fans.
Joseph Akinwale Akinfenwa-Donus, known by his stage name Joeboy, is a prominent figure in the R&B genre. This Nigerian singer-songwriter has established himself as a star with his soulful singing, relatable songwriting, and a continually expanding catalog of chart-topping tracks. Songs like “Beginning” and “Don’t Call Me Back” have firmly established him as an R&B sensation, showcasing his talent for expressing universally relatable emotions through his music.
Chike, whose real name is Chike Ezekpeazu Osebuka, stands out as one of the most gifted singer-songwriters in the music industry. He made a memorable entrance into the music scene with his enchanting voice, a key ingredient of R&B. Tracks like “Roju,” “If You No Love,” and “Running (To You)” beautifully exemplify Chike’s talent in crafting melodies that resonate deeply with his listeners.
Magixx is a remarkable artiste signed to Don Jazzy’s esteemed Mavin Records label. His distinctive voice and unique style have been instrumental in capturing attention and building a dedicated fanbase. His journey to success began with his breakthrough hit, ‘Love Don’t Cost A Dime,’ an R&B gem that marked his rise in the music industry. This track was later remixed with his label mate, Ayra Starr. He continues to elevate the R&B genre with tracks like ‘All Over,’ ‘Colors,’ and ‘Maria,’ enriching the musical landscape with his talent and creativity.
Ndivhuwo Elaine Mukheli, better known by her stage name Elaine, is a South African singer-songwriter who is reshaping the R&B landscape with her soulful voice, introspective lyrics, and innovative sound. Her tracks, such as “You’re the One,” “I Just Wanna Know,” and “Changes,” solidify her reputation as an R&B sensation.
Rowlene Nicole Bosman, who goes by the stage name Rowlene, is a South African singer-songwriter and R&B artiste. Her songs, such as “Cupid,” “Stay,” and “Even,” serve as evidence of her ability to create music that blends intricate melodies, soulful harmonies, and relatable lyrics.
19. Ayra Starr
Before the fame, Ayra Starr started her music career by posting freestyle and cover song videos of herself. Her strong voice reaches many emotions, from sorrow to regret to relief. Ayra Starr’s music is a well-crafted mix of deep bass sounds, choirs, and drums. With her captivating voice, thought-provoking lyrics, and undeniable talent, Ayra Starr has become a promising and standout R&B artiste.
Tyla, whose real name is Tyla Laura Seethal, is a popular South African singer-songwriter. Her journey from a young, passionate in Johannesburg to a celebrated R&B sensation is a testament to her talent. She’s behind outstanding and soulful records like ‘Been Thinking’, ‘Girl Next Door’ which features Ayra Starr and ‘Water’.
These top African R&B artistes are exceptional vocalists and talented storytellers who use their music to convey emotions, tell stories, and inspire listeners. From Nigeria to South Africa, to Ghana and other African countries, their melodies resonate with a universal language that transcends borders, making African R&B a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.