Best African Tracks of 2015

“Traffic Jam!”

Ghana/Nigeria. Everything seems complicated about Adomaa. Her origin is half-Ghaian and half-Nigerian. Her full name is Joy Onyinyechukwu Adomaa Serwaa Adjeman. And the lyrics of this recent video combine words from English, Pidgin, Twi and Yoruba.

But in fact, “Traffic Jam!” is a very direct and enjoyable song. You’ll admire the first time you hear it, and then keep it on repeat, even if only your head.

You can clearly hear Adomaa enjoyed working on this track, as a positive message (“appreciation for the simple things of life”) is enclosed not only in what she sings, but how she sings it.

From other good news, just two weeks ago Adomaa released her new, 41-minute EP, called “Afraba”, and you can stream it “right now“.

Adomaa on Soundcloud, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, www.

Art Melody
“Na Kiend Songo”

Burkina Faso. A truly international album produced by artists from Europe and Americas, the new effort from experimental rapper Art Melody has a proper name: “Moogho” means “World” in the local Mooré dialect.

“Na Kiend Songo,” is album’s superb opener, produced by Réunion-based beatmaker Labelle. But on “Moogho,” you’ll also hear sounds delivered from France, Finland, Poland and the U.S.

One of the most diverse, engaged, and simply finest releases to come out of Africa in 2015, it makes us hope Art Melody will continue developing his international relations.

Art Melody on Facebook, Bandcamp.

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba
“Siran Fen”

Mali. Lute virtuoso from Bamako and his family collective Ngoni Ba gave us another great record last year, “Ba Power“, which is his fourth album to date and his debut on the acclaimed Glitterbeat Records.

On this new nine-track release, Bassekou Kouyaté continues his very own explorations of Malian legacy, transporting local tradition and the African rendition of blues into our postmodern century.

One of the highlights from this record, “Siran Fen” sums up Kouyaté’s current sound: stronger and brighter than ever before.

Bassekou Kouyaté on Facebook, Twitter, www.

Blick Bassy

Cameroon. After over a decade of performing with The Jazz Crew and Macase, Blick Bassy embarked on a musical journey of his own.

“Akö”, his third album, catches him at his most intimate, combining Basaa language and complex melodic patterns reminiscent of his Cameroonian roots with an unusual chamber-ensemble comprised of cello, trombone, harmonica and samples that accompany his voice and guitar.

The opening track, “Aké”, is one of the highlights on the album, a haunting ballad of extraordinary beauty.

Blick Bassy on www, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube.

Cheikh Lô
“Degg Gui”

Senegal. It’s enough to say that Cheikh Lô has been featured on the BBC show “Later… with Jools Holland” and played both in Europe and Asia last summer alone, showing how far his music has reached since he started solo career in mid-90s.

Over the last 20 years, Cheikh Lô has recorded five full-length albums with the most recent, “Balbalou”, released in April last year.

“Degg Gui” is the first single off of the record, and it features the beautiful voice of Brazilian singer Flavia Coelho and accordion maestro from Java, Fixi.

Cheikh Lô on YouTube, Facebook, www.


Zimbabwe. The eternal mbira legend, Chiwoniso Maraire was just 37 years old when she died in Harare almost two years ago. But her artistry will continue to be a true blessing for this world.

She left a great legacy and inspired so many people and artists around the globe with Zimbabwean mbira music. Her both solo albums, “Ancient voices” and “Rebel Woman”, were huge successes and made her tour the world promoting an instrument she redefined for the modern world.

Recently, a new record label Nyami Nyami released “Zvichapera”, a track which Chiwoniso recorded some weeks before she died. Chiwoniso yet again performs with virtuosity, and yet again explains why she was called the “Mbira queen”.

Nyami Nyami Records on Soundcloud.

Hope Masike
“Huyai Tinamate”

Zimbabwe. “Both the song and the video are inspired by the Word that says we must stay prayerful and watchful,” said Zimbabwean Mbira artist Hope Masike about the clip for her beautiful single, “Huyai Tinamate”.

“This video is a short story about what happens when we pray without ceasing,” Masika says. “Lets keep praying, and encouraging each other to do so, regardless of difference in religion.”

As much as hard times and pain may be part of our lifes, the song encourages us to be hopeful.

Hope Masike on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Inna Modja

Mali. Her mother, grandmother, sister, niece and one of her cousins – all of them appear in the new yet old-school video from the Bamako-born, Paris-based soul singer Inna Modja.

“Tombouctou” is a story about the life of women in Mali, especially in its northern parts that include the eponymous city and were torn by war in the recent years. It’s also a prayer for peace in her homeland.

While the song with the accompanying video is a little masterpiece on its own terms, it comes off Inna Modja’s inspiring third album, “Motel Bamako”.

Inna Modja on YouTube, Twitter, FacebookInstagram, www.

Just A Band
“Winning In Life”

Kenya. Over the last eight years, Nairobi-based trio Just A Band have been developing one of the most disctint styles in the current Kenyan scene. You can see the reason of their constant evolution in their new song “Winning In Life”, which shows us how to win in music.

The single is an appetizer for their forthcoming fourth full-length. For this extremely groovy track, Blinky Bill, Dan Muli and Mbithi Masya invited acclaimed jazz trumpeter and a fellow countryman, Owuor Arunga.

Adding a catchy trumpet theme and a short solo, Arunga enhanced Just A Band’s club vibe with an old-school party feeling. Once again, the group’s made it impossible to put them into any standard category, and that’s only for the better.

Just A Band on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Kandia Kouyate

Mali. Born in Kita, Mali, the griot singer Kandia Kouyaté made herself known quite early as a member of L’Ensemble Instrumental National (the National Instrumental Ensemble of Mali).

Her solo career started in earyl 1980s and since then she’s been bulding a unique musical persona that combines the legacy of griot music and her powerful, unrestrained voice.

In autumn, she returned with a new record titled “Renaissance”, released via the Paris-based label Syllart Records. “Sadjougoulé” is a great invitation to hear the whole thing.

Kandia Kouyate on Facebook.

Kwame x Waithaka

Kenya. A collaboration of Kenyan producer Waithaka and Gospel artist Kwame, the sweet Afrosoul track “Malkia” seemed like one of the highlights of the whole 2015, not only in the music of the continent.

The joyous melody and Swahili/Sheng lyrics bring a perfect and unforgettable mix. But after a few months after the audio release this outstanding song also received a visual treatment from the Kenyan director Enos Olik, resulting in one of Africa’s most worthwhile three-and-half minutes this year.

Kwame on Twitter, Facebook. Waithaka on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Kyriah Dee
“Handei Kumafaro”

Zimbabwe. “Fun does not discriminate, anyone can have it,” said Kyriah Dee about the video accompanying her charming single “Handei Kumafaro”, which was an appetizer for her new album called “Kyrisal”

Kyriah belongs to a rising generation of young female Zimbabwean artists, including Hope Masike, Rina Mushonga and Chashe. Currently based in Dublin, she mixes elements of afrobeat, soul, jazz and pop with gospel that was her first music experience.

“The video concept was about returning to the beauty of happiness,” she said. “Notice, I traveled in a tuk tuk instead of a flashy car. Sat on a wooden park bench instead of a golden throne. And danced under a tree decorated in Christmas lights and African fabric instead of a club with disco balls.”

Kyriah Dee on www, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.


South Africa. Durban-born Nhlanhla Majozi is an up and coming musician who’s already opened for bands such as the Lumineers due to his immediate, foot tapping indie folk.

Following the online success of his first single, “The River“, he has been play-listed on radio stations across South Africa.

His more recent summery single “Darling” is dreamy, up tempo and has some seriously catchy lyrics. Majozi is one of the artists you need to keep an eye on, as this is only the beginning for this extremely talented musician.

Majozi on YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, www.

Mbongwana Star

Congo. Mbongwana Star is a new musical project of Coco Ngambali and Theo Nzonza, ex-members of the acclaimed Kinshasa-based collective Staff Benda Bilili.

They have formed this new band with a few local musicians and Liam Farrell, aka Doctor L, once the drummer with Les Rita Mitsouko and more recently a producer on the Parisian hip-hop and electronic scenes.

Their joint effort seamlessly weaves hypnotic rhythmic patterns of African music into post-punk aesthetic. This unique combination, with its distorted, metallic sound drenched in feedback and lo-fi electronics, forms a uniquely Euro-African sonic bricolage.

Mbongwana Star on Facebook, Twitter, www.

Meklit feat. Samuel Yirga

Ethiopia. Although she’s been living in the US since a young age, Meklit keeps exploring her Ethiopian roots in an inventive and lighthearted way. Most recently on the acclaimed album “We Are Alive“.

Featuring Meklit’s fellow countryman, Samuel Yirga, “Kameken” was already one the record’s brightest spots. But last spring it received a delightful visual treatment from the director Pete Lee, who documented an office romance in the making.

A classic Ethiopian song transported into the digital age, “Kameken”, meaning “I Like Your Afro”, is a paean to the Afro hairstyle, and one of the sunniest African moments of 2015.

Meklit on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, YouTube, www.

Miss Tati
“Don’t Let Go”

Angola. For her complicated origin – Miss Tati was was born and raised in Portugal by Angolan parents, but now lives in “the rainy city of Bergen” in Norway – Miss Tati’s music is surprisingly straightforward.

It can be also unbelievably uplifting, as in her latest single “Don’t Let Go”. Accompanied by an appropriately colourful video, it’s brought Tati well-deserved appearances on best-of lists not only in Scandinavia.

Resistant to any simple categorizations, but blatantly happy every time she can share a new song with us, Miss Tati is becoming one of the most positive musicians in the local and possibly global scene.

Miss Tati on Soundcloud, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Mpho Sebina
“Loves Light”

Botswana. Young Botswanan soul singer, Mpho Sebina has been performing for years now, but mostly cover songs. She wrote “Loves Light” about 5 years ago while visiting Malaysia. So she had enough time to polish what was to become her first original song she would share with the wide world.

Elegantly produced by Favi Charles Motsemme, the video directed by Shike Olsen lets us enjoy the beauty of Botswana’s landscapes, its people and Mpho herself. And if you might be surprised by one of her parts in the clip, well, as a kid she wanted to be a shopkeeper one day.

Mpho Sebina on Soundcloud, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram.

Nakhane Touré
“The Plague”

South Africa. One of Johannesburg’s biggest music talents, Nakhane Touré appeared in our Best of 2014 and just before the end of the last year he secured a spot on this list with his new EP, “The Laughing Son”.

The first of five tracks included on this short, but worthwhile record, “The Plague” is accompanied by a video directed by a young South African director Mark Middlewick. Just like Nakhane’s previous clips, an intense and dramatic one.

If 2016 brings another release from this extraordinary artist, hopefully a full-length, we’re already saving a spot on our next year’s list.

Nakhane Touré on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

Owiny Sigoma Band
“Changaa Attack”

Kenya/UK. Spread between London and Nairobi, as well as between African past and club scene’s present, last year Owiny Sigoma Band released their third album “Nyanza” to fully deserved critical acclaim.

Its title comes from the most western province in Kenya, the homeland of two African memebrs of the band. Released ahead of the albume’s premiere, “Changaa Attack” is one the record’s highlight and certainly Owiny Sigoma Band’s instant live classic.

In just under three minutes, the band take us through Joseph Nyamungo’s inspired melodeclamation, kids’ shouts, frenzy loops, to finish far too quickly.

Owiny Sigoma Band on Twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp, www.

P.H.fat & Al Bairre
“Caviar Dreams”

South Africa. Who would of thought that a collaboration between an indie rock band and an electronic rap group could be so good.

P.H.fat and Al Bairre have headlined festivals throughout South Africa and have performed abroad in London and Australia and have gained a huge fan base while doing so.

So it was logical that these Cape Town based groups join forces and make one of the best melodic electronic indie songs we have heard in recent years, not only in the South African scene.

P.H.fat on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, www. Al Bairre on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud.

Petite Noir

Congo/Angola. 2015 was a great year for Yannick Ilunga, as this half-Congolese, half-Angolan, South African-based musician has moved from “promising” to “acclaimed” with the relase of his debut record, “The King of Anxiety”.

He calls his own sound “noir-wave”, which sits somewhere between new wave with an African music and mixes electronic sounds with blues-inspired melodies and breathtaking vocals.

It’s hard to choose one song from his first album, as each single would be worth a place in this list. But you might start with “Shadows”, and see where they take you.

Petite Noir on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Rokia Traoré
“Né So”

Mali. “Né So” (Home) is the title track from Rokia Traoré’s upcoming album, sixth in her outstanding career as an artist.

Musically restrained and built around spoken verses depicting the plight of uprooted people, it’s an urgent and socially conscious commentary on the current world affairs.

The album was recorded with musicians from the entire West African region, but the sound of “Né So” is unmistakably Traoré’s own. At once spare and refined, enveloping its powerful message in sublime arrangements for electric guitar, ngoni, bass and percussion.

Rokia Traoré on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Since the Big Bang
“Die Tryin'”

Gabon/Algeria. Behind Djézia’s complicated background – she’s half-Gabonese and half-Algerian, she grew up in the former country’s capital Libreville, but currently lives in Paris – lies surprisingly simple music. And that’s only for the good.

The 24-year-old released her debut EP, “Capricorn”, in May under the monicker Since the Big Bang. And it’s supposed to embody both her childhood (classic American pop/soul singers & school/church choir training) and adult inspirations (from James Blake to Lana del Rey).

The album was produced by her childhood friend Cj. And friendship is something that often comes back in Djézia’s comments, as it does in her charmingly casual video for “Die Tryin'”.

Since the Big Bang on Soundcloud, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.

“Ginger Me Slowly”

Uganda/Rwanda/USA. Somi Kakoma was born and raised in the USA, but her family history is rooted in Uganda and Rwanda, and she describes her music as “holistic New African Jazz”.

She’s inspired by music from around the continent and played with legends like the South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela. And for her recent album, “Lagos Music Salon”, she seemed to gain a lot of inspiration from the Nigerian city, where she recorded the LP.

Her love for this bustling metropolis and especially the slang Lagosians (popularly known as Pidgin) can be heard in the track “Ginger Me Slowly”. “I was inspired by the Lagos slang expression ‘to ginger someone’ meaning to spice someone up and make them feel good,” she explained.

Somi on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Tal National

Niger. After the international success of their previous album, “Kaani”, released in 2013, last year the Niger-based group Tal National came back with a sophomore release.

It’s called “Zoy Zoy” and it carries on with their singular sound, drawing on a rich mixture of West-African cultures to create trance inducing rock music.

The first single off the album was “Claire”, an uplifting song with complexly intertwined guitar riffs over a hypnotic percussion. The accompanying video features the group’s vocalist, Massaoudo, singing in various locations in Niger’s capital, Niamey.

Tal National on Facebook, Bandcamp, www.

Temi Dollface
“School Your Face”

Nigeria. Apart from being a model – she’s been selected one of the best dressed female Nigerians of 2015 – Temitope Phil-Ebosie is an inspiring singer-songwriter performing under the monicker Temi Dollface.

Her music style matches her fashion imagination, as she freely combines funk, electro, afro beat, hip-hop, electronic music and the best modern pop can give us.

She’s also a member of the recently-announced creative group Collectiv3, and this little pop gem comes off the first release of the Lagos-based group. Hopefully, more’s to come soon.

Temi Dollface on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

The Brother Moves On

South Africa. The experimental group from Johannesburg recently started a project called “Black Tax“, where they will unveil one song at a time over the next nine months. As if they were “birthing something new, something human and something amazing.”

The second track and the first video in this series, “Shiyanomayini” is a perfect example of music that can be listened to on multiple levels. You can enjoy the band’s energy and melodies, or analyse polymetric rhythms.

“Shiyanomayini”, or “Leave whatever you have”, is what beggars say “when they beg at the traffic light and by criminals when they are robbing you,” the band explained. And they know what they say, as one of the members has been robbed “on his way back from rehearsal”.

The Brother Moves On on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

The Very Best
“Let Go”

Malawi/UK. “Let Go” is just one of many excellent tracks from the new, highly anticipated album by The Very Best – the duo of Esau Mwamwaya and Johan Hugo – titled “Makes A King” and released in April by London-based label Moshi Moshi.

But this particular track is probably the most positive and danceable from all included in the record. And it’s accompanied a charming, old-school computer-games video that so many of us will associate – let’s be honest here – with some of the best moments of childhood.

The Very Best on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, www.

Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin
“Little Things”

Mali/USA. Julia Easterlin, a Georgia-born Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, met the renowned Malian guitarist and singer, Vieux Farka Touré, for a brief recording session in New York in 2014.

Together they created four compositions in next to no time, and “Little Things” is one of them. Although based on a classic West African song, “Kaira”, performed by Touré many times before, it has a new melody and lyrics written by Easterlin.

Consequently, it’s not so much a combination as a fusion of their respective talents, embodying a creative synergy that accompanied the encounter.

Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin on Bandcamp, www.


Nigeria. The original version of “Ojuelegba” is much better than the famous remake if only for the reason that Wizkid’s superb composition can gradually draw you into its hypnotizing rhythm and addictive melody, without any distractions.

But it’s not only about the music itself. Highlighted by the video shot on the streets of Ojuelegba, it’s a reminder of Wizkid’s early struggle to find support for his music passion.

In spite of all the failures, and partly thanks to the support from his family, he continued, to eventually become an inspiration for the next generations of ambitious Nigerian artists in the making.

Wizkid on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.