It saw many artists from the region make the necessary strides to take East African music to the next level. The launch of new independent imprints continued to develop a class of budding stars. Sauti Sol 's new Sol Generation label, for example, boasts a stellar roster that includes artists like Bensoul and Nviiri the Storyteller , who have topped the charts this year. This is a dramatic move from the bongo flava superstar but it's exciting to see what he and his new label will offer in the coming year. Despite receiving some negative reviews from its raunchy style, the genre has become a major part of the youth culture in the country. Besides that, the year saw several pan-African and international collaborations that resulted in continental hits from the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Harmonize, Vinka , and Vanessa Mdee. There's no doubt that East African artists stepped up the game big time this year. Here are our top picks for the best East African songs of the year.
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This year saw the rise of the new house music subgenre amapiano in South Africa. While Amapiano is everywhere, it doesn't mean other genres aren't prospering in the country. From the conventional house of DJ Zinhle , the sung raps of Flame and The Big Hash , and the improvisational jazz of Spaza , among other exciting acts, South African artists ensured was yet another memorable year. OkayAfrica contributors Mayuyuka Kaunda and Sabelo Mkhabela pick 20 songs they feel were the best this year.
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Compiling a shortlist of the top African songs of can be quite tricky as each country, region and even genre coming from the continent and its diaspora is insular — overflowing with straight hits. Take a listen in this particular order yes, it is a playlist! Viviane Chidid continues to reign supreme as the queen of mbalax , adapting and evolving her sound to reach new generations. Lately, she has been inspired by afrobeat that can be heard in Do Dara — one of her lead singles this year. If there is a sound that has been a beacon for South Africa this year, it is amapiano. A subgenre of house and kwaito that first emerged in , amapiano is easy on the ears, yet danceable. The two powerhouse producers have since released the second iteration The Return of the Scorpion Kings, which features the likes of Busiswa, Mlindo the Vocalist, Mi Casa and more. The scene is genre-bending, as artists who have emerged from the movement, including Santi and Odunsi, explore what freedom looks like in a conservative society. Lady Donli is an alte artist to watch as she is one of the few women artists developing their sound and growing a fanbase on their own terms.
In , African artists continued to make major strides by signing big deals, winning top awards, releasing memorable hits and collaborating with renowned musicians around the world. A number of African musicians amassed millions of YouTube views and gained new international fans on streaming platforms, earning much needed exposure. Like , has been a great year for Africa artists in terms of collaborations, although divisions were seen after the September xenophobic attacks in South Africa, with a number of local and foreign musicians cancelling shows in the country and abroad. Nonetheless, , the final year of the decade, can still be marked down as a successful one, as the African music industry continued to gain momentum. West Africa still commands a huge following and influence on the continent, as well as in the US and Europe.