30 Best African Tracks of 2014
selected by Clement Obonyo & Thomas Mecha

Aline Frazão

Angola. Aline is a young Afro soul singer-songwriter. Her Luso-influenced jazzy style has captured the attention of many and that won’t stop here.

She is on the verge of an international breakthrough with 2015 seeing her tour Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and more. With songs like “Tanto”, coming off her latest album “Movimento”, it’s clear she fully deserves it.

Aline Frazão on www, YouTube, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Alsarah & The Nubatones
“Habibi Taal”

Sudan. Alsarah & The Nubatones blend a selection of Nubian ‘songs of return’ from the 1970s-today with original material and traditional music of central Sudan. They modernize the old Nubian elements.

This is clearly heard on their debut album “Silt”, including two exquisite singles, “Soukura” and “Habibi Taal”.

Alsarah & The Nubatones on www, Facebook, Soundcloud.

Anansy Cissé
“Fati Ka”

Mali. Two years ago Anansy Cissé was forced to leave his home town, Tombouctou, due to the armed conflict that shook Northern Mali. Still, he continued to produce new music.

On his new album, “Mali Overdrive”, he brilliantly fuses local instruments (Ngoni, Sokou and Calabash) with Western influences. It’s an impressive longplayer which can be regarded as one of the best releases from the African continent in 2014.

Anansy Cissé on Facebook.


South Africa. Writing, singing and producing his own music, Andyboi aka Andile Hlanze is one of those self-sufficient talents who gradually develop their vision striking no compromises.

Andyboi’s high-pitched voice brings much-needed warmth to his electronic beats resulting in a mix best described as soulful house. “Emhlabeni” comes off his debut album, “Trail Evolution”.

Andyboi on Soundcloud.

Aziza Brahim

Western Sahara. Aziza is a politically-charged songwriter singing for the visibility of the ongoing conflict in her home country and for the struggles of refugees in general. Currently based in Barcelona, she incorporates a cosmopolitan mix of influences from that city.

Such a mix – of Saharawi folk melodies, and rock production – can be heard on “Julud”, a song dedicated to her mother. The song also serves as a symbol of her love and admiration for her people.

Aziza Brahim on www, Facebook, Twitter.

Bassekou Kouyate
“Désert Nianafing”

Mali. The Ngoni master’s last full-length album “Jama ko” was recorded during the coup d’etat in March 2012 and is Bassekou’s statement to the ongoing crisis in Mali.

His latest single, “Désert Nianafing”, which features guest appearance of Amy Sacko, Afel Bocoum and Ahmed ag Kaedi, celebrates the 2015 comeback of the Festival au Désert in Morocco.

Bassekou Kouyate on www, Facebook, Twitter.


South Africa. Enjoyable single from one of South Africa’s most promising new bands which incorporates global influences not unlike one Paul Simon did about 30 years ago.

Their debut album “The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg” show the versatility of the group and freshness they bring to the South African music scene.

Beatenberg on YouTube, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Benjamin Clementine

Ghana. The lead single off “Glorious You”, the second EP from Benjamin Clementine, reminds us why this British singer-songwriter of Ghanian descent stands out so vividly in the international scene.

Although he’s still early into his career, Benjamin’s dramatic tenor and music intuition make him a charismatic if elusive performer every fan of Antony Hegarthy or Nina Simone should check out.

Benjamin Clementine on Soundcloud, Facebook, TwitterYouTube.

Bye Beneco
“Space Elephant”

South Africa. The quality of Bye Beneco’s their debut LP, “Space Elephant”, makes it hard to believe this Johannesburg quartet only recently emerged from the South African indie scene.

Fronted by two full-fledged female vocalists, Lenny-Dee Doucha and Jenny Dison, the band’s music shimmers with multiple layers of voices and variety of instruments.

Bye Beneco on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

Dina El Wedidi
“El Haram”

Egypt. Dina El Wedidi has been involved in “the Nile Project” together with musicians from across the Nile valley and had a variety of other experiences before relasing her debut album, “Turning Back”, including playing with Gilberto Gil.

So it was without a surprise that her the record showed such a maturity. With musical brilliance and Dina’s ethereal voice gliding over each song, it leaves the listener wanting more.

Dina El Wedidi on www, YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.


Ethiopia. Based in Addis Abeba, the unique collective Ethiocolor draws from the local tradition of Azmari, but they also keep their eyes and ears open for neighbouring cultures – and for what’s being played in the 21st century.

While half of the group employ exotic-sounding instruments such as kebero, mesenqo, and kirar, the other half sing or – if you’re lucky to see them live – dance. Here’s a song from their long-awaited debut album, titled simply “Ethiocolor”.

Ethiocolor on Facebook.

Ibibio Sound Machine
“Let’s Dance”

Nigeria. Ibibio Sound Machine is an 8-piece collective of musicians from very different backgrounds that came together in London. “Our music is Afrocentric with electronic funk and disco influences and lyrics in Ibibio, my mother’s native Nigerian language”, Eno Williams, the Nigerian leader of the band, told us some time ago.

“’Let’s Dance’ is a story of a girl who is being deprived of her rite of passage dance by the village but defies the odds and dances her way with her friends regardless of her past. It’s about the pure joy and freedom of dance.”

Ibibio Sound Machine on www, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook,

“Let Go”

Kenya. Poet, singer and songwriter Jarel calls the beautiful coastal town of Mombasa his hometown, but he’s currently based in the country’s capital, Nairobi.

Last year he launched a series of track premieres, where he presented a new song every month. It debuted with the delicate song “Let Go”, inviting you to “Break out in song, bust a little move”

Jarel on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

Karyna Gomes
“Amor Livre”

Guinea-Bissau. In 2014, Karyna Gomes released her debut “Mindjer” (meaning “Woman”), making it a tribute to all women in Guinea and around the world for their “strength, determination and courage”.

Born and raised in Bissau, Karyna’s deeply rooted in traditional and modern Guinean music, but draws inspirations from all hemispheres gradually outlining her own, distinct style. As in the single “Amor Livre” (Free Love), an inconspicuous ballad growing with every verse.

Karyna Gomes on Facebook.

Kato Change
“Aparo” ft. Lisa Oduor-Noah

Kenya. In Luo, a dialect of the Kenyan language, “Aparo” means “to think”. Thinking about the centuries-old struggle between an individual and the society, guitar player Kato Change teamed up singer Lisa Oduor-Noah to discuss “one of the strongest human emotions: doubt”.

Yet with their instrumental/vocal proficiency, richness of influences poured into this 4-minute song and the cheerful video – for a listener there’s hardly any room left for doubt.

Kato Change on Soundcloud, YouTube, TwitterFacebook.

“Ekò (Lagos State)”

Nigeria. “I’ve been around, New York and Paris, But nowhere compares to Ekò” – sings KUKU in his anthem to the capital of Nigeria, his home country.

Mixing the Yoruba language with English, “Ekò (Lagos State)” sounds local and global at the same time, just like the city itself. The song comes off KUKU’s new album, “Ballads & Blasphemy”.

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

Mayra Andrade
“Ilha de Santiago”

Cape Verde. “Ilha de Santiago” is a new single off Mayra Andrade’s third studio album, “Lovely Difficult”, released in autumn 2013. The song – written and originally performed by Mário Lúcio Sousa – pays tribute to famous musicians, singers, and composers from the largest Cape Verdean island.

While retaining the original melody, Mayra’s rendition is more contemporary, with ornate arrangements and her unique, sensual voice. Together with the accompanying video, it comprises a heartfelt homage to the people and culture of Santiago.

Mayra Andrade on www, Facebook, Twitter.

Mikael Seifu
“Yarada Lij”

Ethiopia. Producer Mikael Seifu combines the heritage of Ethiopian music with modern electronic sounds to a great result. With such unlikely combination no wonder he ended up striking gold with reviews in major websites such as the Fader or Pitchfork.

Standing still just at the beginning of his (hopefully) unpredictale music journey, Mikael Seifu is certainly one of those to look out for in 2015.

Mikael Seifu on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Nakhane Touré
“In The Dark Room”

South Africa. Raw. Emotional. Honest. These words still fall short when you try do describe this dramatic video by Nakhane Touré, a 26-year old singer-songwriter from Johannesburg.

“In The Dark Room” has been filmed in a prison cell at the ill-famed Constitution Hill. Exactly where Mahatma Gandhi was detained a hundred years ago – as was Nelson Mandela more than half a century later.

Nakhane Touré on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

Naomi Wachira
“I’m Alive”

Kenya. Naomi Wachira has a clear vision of who her listeners should be, namely – anyone. “Regardless of their education, beliefs, or socio-economic status” – as she explains. It’s equally difficult to isolate her inspirations from her music, but again she comes with help, quoting Tracy Chapman and Miriam Makeba, American sound and African rhythms.

Yet at the very roots of Naomi’s artistic soul is probably her parents’ choir in a little town of Kijabe, where she sung her first notes at the age of 5.

Naomi Wachira on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.

Noura Mint Seymali

Mauritania. Griot artist Noura Mint Seymali updates the music traditions of Sahel with more contemporary influences, amplified by shaky guitar play of her husband Jeich Ould Chighaly.

Recording sessions for Noura’s new album, “Tzenni”, have taken place both in Mauritania, Senegal and New York. Its title comes from the Hassānīya dialect and refers to a traditional griot dance based on one simple move: spinning.

Noura Mint Seymali on www, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

“Lights Out” feat. JungFreud

South Africa. Early in 2014 the Cape Town duo PHFAT energized South African local radio stations with their most impressive single yet, “Lights Out”, which is Mike and Narch’s collaboration with JungFreud aka Nonku Phiri.

“We basically spent a lot of time hanging out and jamming,” JungFreud said. “‘Lights Out’ happened in between sessions and took us quite a while to finish because the hook was sooooo freaking tight and we knew we had to kill it.”

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

Razia Said
“Akory Tsikaby”

Madagascar. Over the last years Razia Said has moved from Africa to Europe to America, collecting inspirations without losing anything from her Madagascarian heritage.

On her new album “Akory”, meaning “What Now?” in the Malagasy language, she comes back to her home country and the social, political and environmental problems Madagascar has to challange every day.

Razia Said on www, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Sara Alhinho

Cape Verde. Singer-songwriter Sara Alhinho released her first solo album “Mosaico” in 2013. Consequently, she was named New Artist of the Year at the 2014 Cabo Verde Musical Awards, being described as “the best-kept secret of Cabo Verde”.

The new video for the record’s eponymous single is a result of a project “Mosaico de Sentimentos” which took place in Cape Verde and integrated music, video and photography.

Sara Alhinho on www, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.


Kenya. After their widely celebrated breakthrough track “Fuata Sheria”, which was regarded as one of the best political tracks in 2013, the Kenyan 8-piece band Sarabi has released the long-awaited debut album “Oyaore”.

The LP is a manifestation of the highly developed artistry of this young band. It contains tracks which reflect perfect instrumental and vocal arrangements, blending Kenyan heritage with sounds from around the continent (and the world) into their own kind of African fusion.

Sarabi on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
“African Smoke”

Nigeria. Fela Kuti’s youngest son remained true to his father’s legacy with release of his album “A Long Way To The Beginning”. He described the album as the beginning of the reign of Afrobeat music.

It was co-produced by the Grammy-winning American jazz pianist Robert Glasper and features singer Nneka, rappers M-1 of dead prez and Blitz the Ambassador.

Seun Kuti on www, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.

Songhoy Blues
“Al Hassidi Terei”

Mali. Formed in Northern Mali, Songhoy Blues later relocated to Bamako because the militant groups forbade them from playing or listening to music. At the end of February, the group will release their debut album, “Music In Exile”, on Transgressive Records.

Accompanied by one of the most enjoyable videos of the recent months, the recent single “Al Hassidi Terei” promises an impressive longplay.

Songhoy Blues on Facebook, Twitter.


Angola. In 2011, rapper Sarissari and producer Tchoboly formed a band which soon became one of Luanda’s most exciting outfits. Tchobari’s music style is a mix both musicians’ inspirations and numerous collaborations.

The band themselves nickname their sound mix as “Kwatsiru”, and that’s also the title of their debut album. Featuring a guest appearances from Daniel Nascimento and Viviane Chantel, the single “Nzaya” is a great example of Tchobari’s sound tapestry and their energy.

Tchobari on Soundcloud, Facebook.

Vaudou Game
“Pas Contente”

Togo. Led by Togolese singer and composer, Peter Solo, Vaudou Game is a contemporary afro-funk group, formed in Lyon, France. Their debut album, “Apiafo”, is entirely based on two main musical scales of the voodoo tradition, and created using vintage instruments.

The resulting music comprises a trance-inducing dose of raw, spiritual energy, as manifested in the lead single, “Pas Contente”, featuring guest vocals from Solo’s uncle and 1970s soul pioneer, Roger Damawuzan.

Vaudou Game on Facebook, Soundcloud, YouTube.

Zaki Ibrahim
“Draw the Line”

South Africa. Zaki Ibrahim is one of South Africa’s boldest voices. An international soul not afraid to perform on a host of experimental beats, she not only bridges continents, but pushes sonic boundaries between house, hip-hop, soul, and electronica.

But don’t let all these signifying descriptors lead you astray. What we really have here is none other than raw vocal power and pure vocal talent.

Zaki Ibrahim on www, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Bandcamp.