A new generation of artists is leading the global exportation of Nigerian music.
These musical trailblazers are taking traditional sounds and injecting them with contemporary beats, creating an irresistible fusion that’s captivating audiences worldwide.
They aren’t just making waves within Africa; they’re breaking down barriers and teaming up with international superstars.
It’s a cross-cultural dialogue that’s transcending borders and sparking a worldwide love affair with African music. Spotify Wrapped data for 2023 reveals the undeniable growing influence of African artists across the globe, with African music witnessing a 26% year-on-year increase in plays outside the continent.
Given how significant a force Afrobeats has become in recent years, it shouldn’t be surprising that Nigerian artists dominated the charts of most exported artists in sub-Saharan Africa, with the dynamic duo Rema and Burna Boy leading the pack like musical royalty. These two aren’t just Afrobeats ambassadors; they’re global music forces.
Rema’s got the first African-led single to hit a billion streams on Spotify, in his Calm Down collaboration with Selena Gomez, and he’s the first Nigerian Afrobeats artist to crack Spotify’s top 10 global chart of most-streamed artists in 2023.
They both also dominated the 2023 Billboard Awards. Burna Boy took home the Top Afrobeats Artist award, while Rema and Selena Gomez’s Calm Down snagged Top Afrobeats Song. Talk about making waves!
But the Nigerian music scene isn’t just about the two of them alone. Tems is the most exported female artist in SSA, coming in at number three overall. Ayra Starr, another Nigeria sensational artist snagged the title of the most streamed female artist in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda on Spotify in 2023. She also ranked number four on the top list of most exported artists in SSA. And let’s not forget Asake, who is mesmerising audiences beyond Nigeria earned him the title of the most streamed artist in Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo, and in the top ten of most exported artists from SSA.
It’s not just artists; Nigerian music itself is dominating the charts. Nine out of the top 10 most exported recordings in sub-Saharan Africa are Nigerian tunes! Rema’s Calm Down and the remix version with Selena Gomez are both at the top, followed by Ayra Starr’s Rush and CKay’s Love Nwantiti (ah ah ah) – a song that’s still going strong even after its 2021 release.
Of course, artists from other countries in sub-Saharan Africa have seen international success too. Ghana’s Amaarae sits in the top 20.
Expand things a little further and you’ll find artists from São Tomé and Príncipe (in the shape of Calema) and Côte d’Ivoire, through the Magic System. South African artists Master KG, Nomcebo Zikode, and Black Coffee are all among the top 40 most exported artists in the region, the first two thanks to their track Jerusalema, which is still going strong since its 2020 release, and subsequent social media chokehold.
The success of these artists, and others, shows how global the market for African music has become. And given how hungry some of the world’s biggest artists are to collaborate with their African counterparts – either as singers and musicians or producers – that growth isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon either.
But African music is more than just chart-topping hits. It’s a tapestry of rhythms, melodies, and voices that reflects the continent’s rich cultural heritage, as seen in specific countries’ top exported tracks.
Tyler ICU’s Mnike (feat. DJ Maphorisa, Nandipha808, Ceeka RSA & Tyron Dee) is the second most exported track in South Africa, while over in the East, Lexsil and Otile Brown’s Bounce is the most exported track in Kenya.