(March 23, 2019). Last week, djrobblog began its five-part series on African rappers who should be – or rather, long ago should have been – given a chance here in America. Part 1 featured two of the most popular and most important Nigerian rappers of the millennium, M.I Abaga and Falz.
While the two of them have sparked many debates between Africans as to whether they belong among the best rappers the continent has to offer, their catalogue of songs has been highly acclaimed and given the chance, would put many American rap acts to shame, or at least give them a run for their money.
For a long time, American hip-hop has been popular in English-speaking African countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Ghana, but the reverse has not been true of African rappers here in the 50 states. For the most part, American hip-hop heads have preferred that their rap be homegrown (Drake notwithstanding), with the main variation being between the two coasts or whether the artist comes from the north or south in the continental U.S.
That should change, and djrobblog is doing its small part to open the eyes and ears of American fans to some of the best hip-hop Africa has to offer.
This week, I have two more impressive artists from the motherland, artists I hope American readers – as well as those in other countries – pay attention to and help spread the word about their talents.
So continue reading (and listening) and let readers know what you think in the comment section below or on the blog’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Last week: Falz (Nigeria), M.I Abaga (Nigeria)
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Cassper Nyovest – Full name is Refiloe Maele Phoolo (also known as “Mr. Fill Up”); Age: 28; South African rapper from the North West province; Genres: Hip-hop, Kwaito (a form of South African house music). Latest album is Sweet and Short (released November 2018). Nyovest is the founder and current CEO of the label on which he records, Family Tree Records.
Other noteworthy facts: Nyovest is considered one of the biggest rappers to ever come out of SA. He has earned the nickname “Mr. Fill Up” after a series of concerts in which he set out to “fill up” the venues. He has achieved his goal in the past, having filled up the 40,000-capacity Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, a feat that was considered a game-changing moment in South African hip-hop history.
Nyovest, who specializes in chant-filled, melodic hip-hop with a SA house music vibe, has regularly been recognized as the hottest rapper in South Africa. He’s been ranked as No. 1 or No. 2 on various rankings over the past five years since his first studio album, Tsholofelo, was released. His breakout single “Doc Shebeleza” from that album was largely responsible for his recognition in 2014 as the Hottest African MC in rankings by MTV Base. It’s a ranking he topped again in 2016, based on “impact, style, lyrics, sales, buzz and other intangibles.”
Nyovest, who recently spoke out about his battle with depression and how music saved him, has been making the rounds here in the U.S., including a stint just last week (March 15) at the SXSW festival in Austin, Tx.
His fourth and latest album, Sweet and Short, was released November 30, 2018, and, like his first three albums, should easily achieve platinum status in South Africa…but elsewhere? Check it out below.
Best tracks on Sweet and Short: “Skeptedata,” “Hase Mo States,” “Remote Control,” “Gets Getsa.”
Check out the video for “Gets Getsa” below:
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Sarkodie – Full Name is Michael Owusu Addo (also known as Obidi); Age: 33; Ghanaian rapper from Tema. Genres: Hiplife (recorded mostly in Twi, a dialect of Ghana’s Akan language), and Afrobeats. Last album was Highest (2017), an inspirational project that won him numerous awards last year in his homeland and abroad. Sarkodie has a degree in graphic design and is also the owner of his own label, Sarkcess Music.
Other noteworthy facts: Sarkodie is easily Ghana’s biggest musical export, and he is arguably the most successful rapper to come out of Africa, internationally speaking. He won the BET award for Best International Act (Africa) in 2012 and was nominated twice more in 2014 and ‘15.
Numbers Don’t Lie: He’s also won 21 Ghana Music Awards as well as many other accolades. He has collaborated with several American and African artists and has toured in the U.S. (as recently as two weeks ago, he appeared at an Afrobeats concert here in Chicago).
He married last year and has a daughter, Adalyn, who inspired his latest album.
Sarkodie has followed the path of several big-name multifaceted entrepreneurial rappers here in America by investing in numerous brands. Aside from his record label, he owns a clothing line, has a brand of headphones, and is contracted to numerous endorsement deals, including Samsung Electronics.
“What else?” (to borrow Sark’s famous musical tagline): He is also well-known for his philanthropy, often taking up causes like orphanage, childhood poverty, road safety and the need for entrepreneurship among Ghana’s disenfranchised people.
Sarkodie’s fifth and latest album, Highest, was released September 8, 2017, and featured the single “Come To Me” plus the award-winning track, “Pain Killer.” Check out the videos for both below.
Also, djrobblog considers the following to be among Sarkodie’s best tracks: “Illuminati,” Chingham” “I Know” “Down on One,” “Biibi Ba”; “You Go Kill Me” (ft. El); “Love Rocks” (ft. Samini); “Glory”; “Homicide,” and ”Edwom Te S3n,” among others.
Check out Spotify’s special playlist below.
DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.