A shortlist of African artists to watch out for in 2022!
2021 has been a good year for African music. It all began with Nigerian superstars Wizkid & Burna Boy anointing the afrobeats genre with their wins at the 2021 Grammy Awards (leading to another nomination for both in 2022) and ended with the well-deserved addition of Congolese rumba to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.
This year contributed to expose the continent’s diverse regional styles furthermore, bringing numerous musical talents to the global scene.
Specially tailored for you by our local teams, here is a short selection of Believe artists who shone in 2021 that you should definitely keep an eye on in 2022!
Roga Roga – Congo-Brazzaville
Roga Roga is not exactly what you would call a newcomer. His career began in the late 1980s, when he formed the group Extra Musica in Brazzaville with childhood friends and fellow musicians from his church choir. Extra Musica first made a name for themselves playing small bars and funerals in the early 90s, before recording their first studio album in 1995. The following albums, in which rumba, soukouss and ndombolo are mixed, brought a growing success to Extra Musica, notable recipient of “Best Group of Central Africa” Price in 2000 for the album Shalaï. Even if the group broke up at the end of the 2000s, Roga Roga kept going on this adventure as a solo artist in 2010, before forming a new band under the moniker Roga Roga – Extra Musica, releasing new music in 2018.
It is with this new lineup that Roga Roga released his new EP entitled ‘Bokoko’. The track of the same name, a ndombolo anthem backed by a catchy synth line, is an ode to African identity and absolute hit in all the region (and beyond), gathering more than 9 million views on YouTube.
Akwaboah – Ghana
In his homeland Ghana, Gladstorm Kwabena Akwaboah Jr is best known by his stage name Akwaboah. Son and grandson of legendary highlife musicians Kwadwo Akwaboah and Kwabena Akwaboah, this singer, songwriter and producer wrote his first songs at the age of 10,and made a name for himself working with for many recognized acts like Hugh Masekela, Sarkodie, John Legend and many more. His songwriting skills earned him Songwriter of The Year at the 2010 Ghana Music Awards for 'Daa ke Daa’, a song he wrote for Ghanaian singer Becca. In 2015, Akwaboah wrote 8 songs and produced an entire album for acclaimed rap star Sarkodie.
In 2018, he released his debut solo album ‘Matters of the Heart’, blending his favorite genres and influences - highlife, afro-soul, afro-pop and afrobeats. Following public acclaim, ‘Matters of the Heart’ won Akwaboah Record of the Year at the 2019 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.
Akwaboah recently released ‘Lighthouse’, a highly anticipated new EP in which the highlife musician ventures into afrobeats and r'n'b.
Oothentik Zeus – Senegal
Oothentik Zeus got a kick out of "Galsen rap", a nickname designating the Senegalese hip-hop scene, during his teenage years spent in the Dakar region. Inspired by the leading Galsen rap artists from these past 20 years, Oothentik Zeus started rapping in 2013 and soon formed the duo False Twins Boys with his friend Papay Papam. Whilst the group quickly broke up, Oothentik Zeus persevered and released Futur Flow, his first solo track in late 2014.
Fresh out of high school, Oothentik Zeus recorded ‘Bagn Bagn Beug’, a second solo track that got him noticed on the local scene while multiplying freestyles at Nd Music, the studio of a former schoolmate which led him to release his first mixtape in 2017.
In 2018, he joined Deff Music Group label thanks to the beatmaker Omzo Beats and started working with him on a new round of freestyle series called ‘Saleteel’, that helped Oothentik Zeus grew more popular.
In 2021, Oothentik Zeus released his first solo album called ‘THIAPATHIOLY’. The album ranked in the top charts within a week and is already considered one of the most galsen rap outstanding albums of this decade.
FUL – Cameroon
FUL is a young Cameroonian singer who was discovered at 17 while appearing on "The Voice Afrique Francophone" TV show in 2017. His incredible interpretation of the classic Ayé by the American-Nigerian singer Davido earned him the attention of all four coaches of the show, leading Franco-Congolese artist Singuila to integrate him into his team all the way to the finals. Without further ado, FUL was the first artist to be signed on Singuila's Gc Recordz label, sharing the stage with him these last years on a regular basis. Singuila also wrote Ful his first hit ‘Elle n’a d’yeux que pour moi’ in 2018, followed by the more afropop-oriented tune On ne s’entend pas in 2019.
FUL released ‘Spirale Infernale’ in November 2021, a first EP composed of seven intensely romantic RnB tunes. FUL promises a future full of surprises to his fans, and more specifically an extended album filled with local and global collaborations.
Costa Titch – South Africa
Hailing from the small South-African city of Nelspruit, Costa Titch is a rapper who first started off his career as a professional dancer, most notably for South-African hip-hop superstar Cassper Nyovest. He started his rap career in 2017, but it’s the track Nkalakatha, released in 2019, that brought him to light on the national scene.
Released in 2020, his first album ‘Made In Africa’ resulted in him winning two South African Hip Hop Awards. Clearly influenced by the US trap scene, this album is however a vibrant tribute to the history of South African hip-hop, in which Costa invites several local legends and sings in isiZulu, Sesotho, English and Afrikaans. In 2021, he released a collaborative project with his countrymate AKA titled ‘You’re Welcome’.
Early December 2021, Costa released Big Flexa, his first foray into amapiano, a musical genre very popular in South Africa mixing deep-house, jazz, lounge music, piano melodies and kwaito rhythms. The track peaked at #52 on Apple Music’s Dance Charts and amassed over 1.4 million views on YouTube at time of publication.
Bruce Melodie – Rwanda
In 2022, Rwandan artist Bruce Melodie will celebrate his 30th birthday as well as his 10-year career spanning beyond the borders of his own country.
This famous RnB singer, songwriter and producer began singing at an early age, first in his church choir then as a backup singer for various Rwandan artists. 'Ndumiwe', his instant classic of a first album, dropped in 2013, quickly followed in 2014 by a second successful album called Ntundize.
Over the past eight years, Bruce Melodie has also received a significant number of awards: The Salax Awards crowned him Best RnB Artist in 2014 and 2019 as well as Best Male Artist in 2016 and 2019. He also won the 8th season of reality singing competition Primus Guma Guma Super Star in 2018.
In the summer of 2021, Bruce Melody released ‘Katapilla’, a new single that won him the Best Summer Artist award at the Kiss Summer Awards. ‘Kataplila’ was followed by ‘Sawa Sawa’ (featuring the Kenyan rapper Kaligraph Jones), another single from his upcoming album CHAPTER 12:21, which is already shaping up to be a major hit in the Rwandan charts in 2022.
CEF Tanzy - Angola
Considered a pioneer of trap-zouk music in Angola, CEF Tanzy already has an impressive career behind him at only 35 years old. Influenced by American RnB artists like Boys II Men and Angolan kizomba stars like Paulo Flores, he learned guitar and honed his voice in church choirs then began writing his own songs, encouraged by his brothers, musicians Tony Laf and A'mosi Just a Label.
After years polishing his art playing live music, CEF Tanzy made his first studio recordings in 2008. He released his first album Botão de rosa in 2013 and won Best R&B Singer at the Angola Music Awards the same year. In 2017, thanks to his album ‘Cartel d'Amor’, he was awarded Best Male Voice and Best Modern Music awards at the same Angola Music Awards.
Filled with soulful instrumentals, his new album The Coach offers 14 tracks oscillating between zouk and r'n'b and showcasing his vocal abilities. Each single from the album was an instant hit: ‘Mickael Jackson’ (released in 2019) reached 6 million views on YouTube while ‘Tá Falar Tá Fazer’ with Anna Joyce (released in May 2021) has reached 3 million views as we speak.
FIOR DE BIOR – Ivory Coast
A mysterious and humorous personality, Fior 2 Bior first made a name for himself in 2017 via parodies and freestyles posted on his Instagram account. This led to him being noticed by Ariel Sheney, rising star of coupé-decalé (one of the most popular musical genres in the country) who invited him on his label AS Record.
In 2019, Fior 2 Bior released his first single ‘kpokpopouho soualélé’ and surprised everyone with this track mixing rap, coupé-décalé and electronic beats influenced by Afro-house and kuduro. The young artist then released several hip-hop tracks in which he showed his ability to rap. But it is by returning to electronic sounds in 2021 that his notoriety exploded. First thanks to his feature on DJ Lewis afro-decalé-house hit Apoutchou (7 million views), but more importantly with ‘Gnonmi avec lait’. Released in March 2021, the highly danceable track, in collaboration with French rapper Niska, became one of the most listened to tracks of the year in Ivory Coast, and the video now exceeds 24 million views on YouTube.
Fior 2 Bior has not rested since then, as he has completed a mini-tour in Europe following the success of 'Gnonmi avec lait', and has already released several singles, including ‘Godo Godo’ at the very end of 2021. Drawing from both coupé-decalé and kuduro, the track reached one million views on YouTube in just 10 days. With such a craze, it is clear that we will have to count on Fior 2 Bior in 2022.