Promising East African artistes to look out for in 2023
While African music is having its moment globally, regionally and within the country - especially with support from global companies like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube, a slew of rising stars are also laying the groundwork for their own breakout year. For perspective, last year was a breakout year for artists like Buju, Costa Titch and Asake, whose success propelled them into Spotify’s Wrapped top lists at the end of 2022.
They might not be as popular as their counterparts but some of these musicians are primed to release their best music in the coming months while others, like Wanavokali, have enjoyed early success and show many indications of even greater success on the horizon.
Others are relatively new elements, developing new takes on familiar sounds that harken towards major shifts in popular music.
These artists from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with a wide array of styles, cultures and perspectives, these artists are, according to Spotify data, the ones to watch in 2023.
Loosely translated in Kiswahili as “Those with Vocals” the six-member group lived up to their name in 2020 by winning the inaugural Old Mutuals’ Amazing Voice. Their hit single Rhumba released in 2021 further cemented their status in Kenya’s music scene. Fresh off the back of an AFRIMA nomination, this group will only continue to scale new heights in 2023.
A wistful hopeless romantic is what this Kenyan singer, songwriter and producer describes himself as. His catalogue which merges R&B and Afrosoul is a true reflection of this description, with song titles such as “Nitangoja”, “Ni We” and “Enough”.
Kenyan Artist, Producer, Mixer and Engineer Misee Billions is currently working on his debut mixtape “Champagne na Plantain” and our ears are perked in anticipation. There is no doubt the quadruple threat will deliver.
The Atlanta-born songstress has mapped and solidified her position as a rising R&B star and one of the most exciting new acts to watch out for from Nairobi, Kenya in 2023. Her debut EP “Dimensions” introduced her to the music scene with a co-sign from Kenyan musical legend, Chris Adwar. The release of her debut project “D.R.U.G.S” earned her the cover of Spotify Africa’s Fresh Finds Africa playlist in June 2022.
Music duo Mshairi Spikes and Tuku Kantu make up V-BE, in an interesting combination of poetry and vocals. Their life experiences as well as those around them have informed their work, and their latest hit “Sasa Hivi” appeals to even the most jaded when it comes to love.
This Tanzanian artist was first discovered by Konde Music’s Harmonize and has gone on to win over fans with tracks like “Kama”, and her feature on Harmonize’s "All Night". She released two more singles in 2022.
A current Konde Music signee that is one to watch is Killy, whose hit single featuring label boss Harmonize Ni Wewe fuses modern bongo sounds and zilizopendwa. His EP "Greenlight" was released in February 2022.
Phina made her entrance into the Tanzania music scene when she won the 2018 Bongo Star Search. The smooth and soulful vocalist released “Upo Nyonyo” in June 2022, instantly topping charts both in Tanzania and in the region.
The year has just started but Zisabulo Willy aka Liam Voice is not letting that stop him. His first single “Gwe Abilina” is already out , and if it is anything to go by, the Ugandan soulful singer has a fantastic year ahead.
25-year-old Axon is a music producer and artist from Uganda, having worked with the likes of Lamu, Kohen Jaycee, Selecta Jef and John Blaq. He first started producing music in 2018, but it was his work on the hit “Tip” which he co-produced with Selecta Jef that highlighted him as a definite artist to watch. He currently has an EP out with Kohen Jaycee and we cannot wait to see what he gets up to this year.