Top Players In The African Music Industry
The African Music Industry is very diverse. Making it “big” in the African music scene is almost impossible if an upcoming artist is not in contact with a “big player” in the industry. Who you know, really matters. You may not go from zero to hero in one day but it all starts with that key person of influence. The person whom is able to take you from one point to the next.
After several hours of research, we have compiled a “must-have” list of 13 African producers, record labels and musicians who help other musicians rise. These artistes made the list because of their achievements and the impact their help has had on the lives of other musicians.
You cannot talk about African music without talking about Sarkodie. Michael Owusu Addo, popularly known as Sarkodie, is one of the biggest music stars in Ghana. With his vast portfolio of international awards and nominations, he is considered one of Africa’s greatest hip hop artists. All in all, Sarkodie has received 68 awards from 119 different nominations. His record label, Sarkcess Music, has been ranked as the best record label in Ghana, in 2016 by Avance Media. Sarkodie is known for recognizing upcoming talent, and for supporting them on their music journey. One such talent is Strongman, whom he publically named as one of the best upcoming rappers in Ghana. He went on to sign him to his label in 2016. Sarkodie also signed the melodious contemporary singer, Akwaboah to his label in that same year.
Joe Mettle (Ghana)
Joseph Oscar Mettle, better known by his stage name Joe Mettle, is an award-winning Ghanaian gospel singer and songwriter. With his exceptional creativity, passion and stagecraft, he has successfully built his brand as one of the greatest Ghanaian contemporary gospel artists. He has had the opportunity to work with several stars in the industry, including Cindy Thompson, late Danny Nettey, and Reverend Tom Bright Davies. He has also shared stages with renowned foreign artistes such as Don Moen, Alvin Slaughter, Juanita Bynum and Cece Winans. He won the “Artiste of the Year” award at the 2017 VGMA Awards, for his song “Owawani”. This song is among a list of other nationwide hit songs. He has won several other awards at the Africa Gospel Music Awards, Gospel industry Awards, African Gospel Awards (UK), CCML Ghana Gospel Awards, Bass Awards and RIGA Awards (South Africa).
Shatta Wale (Ghana)
Formerly known as Bandana, Shatta Wale (Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jnr.) is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the African music industry. In 2014, his song, “Wine Ya Waist,” was internationally recognized by British Newspaper, The Guardian as one of the five “must-listen-to songs from around the world.” That same year, he was appointed as an ambassador for the ‘Dance Against Racism’ project. Over the years, Shatta Wale has acquired countless awards and recognitions including, the most recent one when he was crowned, the “African Artist of the Year” at the 2017 African Pride Awards in England.
Let’s dive into the Nigerian world of music. Wizkid is an internationally acclaimed Afrobeats artist with numerous international awards and recognitions. Officially he appeared on the music scene in 2010, with his debut studio album: “Holla At Your Boy.” He achieved international recognition after his collaboration with Drake on the global hit, “One Dance,” which reached number one on several charts across 15 different countries. These included: the U.S.A, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and others. This collaboration led to Wizkid (Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun) being the first Afrobeats artist to be named in the 2018 Guinness Book of World Records. The “One Dance” song was also the most streamed song on Spotify. Wizkid has earned several other awards, including three BET Awards, two Billboard Music Awards, and one nomination at the Grammy Awards, among others.
Another prolific Nigerian musician causing waves in the African music industry is David Adedeji Adeleke. He is popularly known as “Davido.” He is the co-owner of the HKN Music record label, and the sole owner of Davido Music Worldwide (DMW). Through his record label, he has assisted many upcoming artistes to rise in the music industry. In 2016, Davido signed two upcoming artists, Dremo and MayorKun, to his HKN record label. Right after being signed on, MayorKun dropped his debut hit single, “Eleko,” which currently has over a million views on Youtube. With one studio album, an EP and numerous singles, Davido has received a total of 29 awards, including a BET Award, a Kora Award, and two MTV Africa Awards. This past year, he was crowned with the “Best African Act” and the “Worldwide Act Winner (Nigeria)” Awards at the 2017 MTV Europe Music Awards.
Don Jazzy (Nigeria)
As a recording artist, producer and entrepreneur, Don Jazzy is one of the most influential artists in the Nigerian music industry. In 2004, he co-founded Mo’ Hitz label with D’Banj, which became defunct after both artists split up in 2012. Don Jazzy went on to start his own record label, Mavin Records, in 2012. The label is home to artistes such as Tiwa Savage, Iyanya and Reekado Banks. Having been nominated twice for the Best Record Label at the City People Entertainment Awards, Mavin Records won the aforementioned award in 2014. Over the years, Don Jazzy has received five “Producer of the Year” awards from Nigerian Music Awards, Nigerian Entertainment Awards, City People Entertainment Awards and others. He also has production credits on Kanye West, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s song “Lift Up.
Born in the U.S.A, Akon is a Senegalese-American singer, businessman and record producer.
Though he has been off the grid for a while, there is no denying that he has made a mark in the music industry. Not only in Africa, but across the world. He came onto the scene with his debut album, “Trouble,” and this is where his rise to prominence began. His second album, released in 2006, received three nominations for the Grammy Awards in two categories. He is also the first solo artist to hold both number one and two spots, simultaneously, on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, twice. With 36 awards and 95 nominations, he is definitely a legend in the music industry. After establishing his successful record label, Konvict Muzik, he signed Nigerian artistes P-Square, Tuface and Wizkid as representatives of his record label in Africa in 2011. Former artistes who were signed with this label included Lady Gaga, T-Pain, A-Wax and others.
Black Coffee (South Africa)
Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo, better known by his stage name Black Coffee, is a South African record producer and DJ. He gradually built up his career over nearly two decades and is now an internationally renowned producer. He is arguably also one of the most popular DJs in Africa. With his innovative and straight up style, he has played a key role in the rising music culture in South Africa. He launched his career in 2005 with a remix of Hugh Hugh Masbiggestekela’s hit, “Stimela,” which was followed by the release of his debut album “Black Coffee” under his Johannesburg based record label, Soulistic Music. So far, he has released five albums under this label.
Stereotype Records (South Africa)
Stereotype records have a strong connection to the urban roots, which aims to uncover bright talent in the African music industry. Many artists, who need a launch pad for their music career, rely on Stereotype Records to aid them in reaching their goals. The record label actively searches for new talent, especially in South Africa. Stereotype Records is still in its beginning stages and is open to give young artistes a chance to shine.
House Afrika Records (South Africa)
Established in 1994, House Afrika Records is a South African Afro-house label and is one of the longest-standing and most respected house music labels in South Africa. They are known for producing collections like “Fresh House Flavas” by DJ Fresh, which was a great hit in the country. The label also identified local, talented beat makers who were rising in the music industry, and provided them with opportunities to join the company. These include acts like Rhythmic Elements, who won a SAMA Award in 2009, and the Bass Breaks & Beats label, with whom they released their best-selling album, “House Afrika Sessions”, in 2010.
Angelique Kidjo (Benin)
Angélique Kidjo, Beninese popular singer, is known for her collaborations with internationally prominent musicians. Her creative blending of diverse musical forms, inspired from every part of the world, makes her stand out from the crowd. Dubbed “Africa’s premier diva” by Times Magazine and des
cribed as “The undisputed queen of African music” by The Daily Telegraph, there is no doubt that Grammy-winning singer, Angelique Kidjo, is a major creative force and a star in the international music industry. At the age of 20, she launched her debut album, “Pretty,” which catapulted her to overnight fame in West Africa. With more than 15 albums, over the past 37 years, she has become an international sensation. As a three-time Grammy Awards winner, she received the award for “Best Contemporary World Music Album” in 2008, as well as the “Best World Music Album” award in 2015 and 2016.
Cassper Nyovest (South Africa)
Refiloe Maele Phoolo, professionally known as Cassper Nyovest, is one of the most prominent figures in South African hip hop. His debut album, Tsholofelo, was released on 18 July 2014. It ranked number one on the iTunes South African albums chart for two consecutive months. In October 2014, Nyovest was ranked number one on “The Hottest MC in Africa” list by MTV Base, as well as number two on MTV Base’s “SA’s Hottest MC” list. Cassper has won numerous awards, including awards at MTV Africa Music Awards, the South Africa Music Awards and SA Hip hop Awards.
Samira Saïd (Morocco)
Dubbed by her fans, “The Diva of Arabic Music,” Samira Said is an internationally known Moroccan-Egyptian pop singer. With her unique style and rich repertoire, Samira Saïd is undeniably the most accomplished female musician in contemporary Arabic music. With more than 500 songs released and more CD’s sold than any other female Arabic musician in the last 50 years, Samira Saïd triggered a global music revolution in the Arabic music industry.