5 Canadian afrobeats artists to know

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Afrobeats has been gaining popularity since its inception at the beginning of the 2000’s. From 2017 to 2022, there has been a 550 percent increase of the number of times songs from the genre – the catch-all term for popular African music from Nigeria and Ghana – have been streamed on Spotify, and last year Afrobeats reached 15 billion streams on the platform thanks to singers such as Burna Boy, Rema, Tems, Ayra Starr, Davido and many others.

In Canada, many listeners were introduced to Afrobeats through Drake’s 2016 crossover hit “One Dance,” featuring Wizkid, one of the biggest Afrobeats stars in the world. The song made history when it became the most listened to song on Spotify that year (although the Weeknd has since clinched the top spot with “Blinding lights“). But the amalgamation of West African sounds has only continued to receive global recognition since the record-breaking track: the Saskatchewan Music Awards noticed the boom with the introduction of a new Afrobeats category in 2023, and in February 2023. On December 4, the Grammys will award their first-ever award for Best African Musical Performance.

The nominees in the new category – Asake and Olamide, Burna Boy, Davido and Musa Keys, Tyla and Starr – all fall somewhere under the umbrella of Afrobeats. variety of genres qualify, including Afrobeats and its derivatives such as Afro-fusion, Afro-pop, alté, bongo flava, genge, and many more. “Music happens in moments, and I’m always excited that now is Africa’s time,” said Linda Ayoola, head of expansion and African music for Starr’s label. says Variety. “Afrobeats is a genre that represents the people.”

Ahead of this year’s Grammy Awards, CBC Music has brought together five Canadian afrobeats musicians who share the sounds of the West African diaspora through their songs.


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The Nigerian-French-Canadian singer Töme does not only belong to the Afrobeats sphere. Instead, she seamlessly blends Afrobeats with reggae, dancehall and R&B to create Afro-fusion music. “Actually, Afrobeats, Afro-fusion, and I mean, dancehall in particular, and even soca, in a way, are very related to each other,” the Montreal singer told the Junos of his sound that spans all genres. Both of his albums combine catchy rhythms and infectious melodies, and his songs can transport listeners to the beach, the dance floor and beyond. The Juno Award-winning singer has toured with Wizkid and Burna Boy, and in 2022, she worked with Grammy nominee Legendury Beatz, the production duo behind Wizkid’s hit “Essence.” Töme’s first song of 2024, “Jump Off”, was one of CBC Music’s recent broadcasts. songs you need to hear.


Nonso Amadi

In 2023, Nonso Amadi released his first full album, When it blooms, blending Afrobeats and R&B on his passionate love songs. The result is a vibrant cocktail of beats straight from Lagos that showcase his smooth vocals. The Nigerian-born, Toronto-based singer has cited Wizkid as an influence, and Amadi’s track “Thankful” was inspired by the Afrobeats superstar’s song “Shout Out.” His blend of contemporary R&B and Nigerian music puts him in the Afro-R&B lane, and he has collaborated with Majid Jordan, Emotional Oranges, Tay Iwar and more, expanding his sound beyond genres and genres. borders. “I like to have a touch of unpredictability in my music,” he said Wonderland in an interview. “I think I will always continue to explore and see how I can incorporate different sounds into the ones I already have.”


On the bridge

Toronto singer Sillla began her musical journey performing Alicia Keys covers as a child. She eventually began releasing her own music in 2021, which featured a mix of soca, reggae, and afrobeats, honoring her Ghanaian roots. The following year, she released “Lonely”, a remarkable track that showcased her velvety vocals and also contained traces of Tems’ cold lyricism.

“In the realm of Afro-pop and alternative R&B, I want every note of my music to resonate (with) resilience, and every lyric to be an anthem of authenticity rooted in self-love,” she told CBC Music. Although she only released a handful of songs, she performed at AfroFest and opened for big Afrobeats hits including Stonebwoy and Amaraae. Silla’s next project is Echoes of lovean EP which will be released on February 14.


Rookie Shirt

Nigerian singer Rooky Kamiz became the first winner of the Afrobeats Artist of the Year award at the Saskatchewan Music Awards last year. “It’s a really dynamic scene, and we’ve seen a lot of people come onto the stage with their unique youth and artistry,” Kamiz said. Radio-Canada News of the growing Afrobeats community in the province. He’s been releasing music since 2020, and his previous projects blend hip-hop, R&B, and more for a truly diasporic sound. Kamiz’s most recent release is his 2023 EP, Kaleidoscopewhich highlights his penchant for refined rhythms and sensual lyricism, and he will follow up with his debut album, which will be released in February.


Borelson

Growing up in Gabon, Congo and France, Toronto singer Borelson shaped his diverse musical tastes. A self-described Afro-fusion artist, he incorporates elements of rap, jazz, classical music and gospel into his songs for transcendent music that often nods to his multicultural upbringing. After releasing his first album, Out of sight, in 2020, he followed up with Building bridges in 2021, rich in optimistic international influences. His 2023 single “Summertime in Toronto” is a bold amapiano track that features high-energy percussion that, as he explained to Afrocriticism, was partly inspired by the genre that is taking over the world. “Empowerment, self-awareness and togetherness are definitely key values ​​in my music,” he told CBC Music. “I see my music as a way to build bridges between people, cultures and sounds.”

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