Africa, the birthplace of rich culture, has served as an enduring muse for the global music industry.
Despite the historical dominance of Afrobeats, Amapiano, Gengetone and others, in the African music landscape, an exciting transformation is unfolding as R&B undergoes a notable resurgence across the continent, with an average year on year growth of 133% on Spotify.
R&B in Africa is a testament to the adaptability and creativity of African musicians. While R&B has traditionally been characterized by its soulful melodies and themes of love and relationships, African artists are giving the genre a unique twist by infusing it with their own cultural and musical influences.
To leverage this growing popularity of the genre, Spotify has partnered with COLORSxSTUDIOS for a multi-day R&B writing camp in Nairobi, Kenya. The writing camp, taking place in the first week of October, will bring together artists, songwriters and producers from across Africa and beyond, with Spotify’s flagship R&B playlist Tantalizers acting as the umbrella.
Africa’s thirst for quality R&B is undeniable, with South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, and Uganda, registering top R&B listenership on Spotify. Even in francophone and lusophone markets like Côte d’Ivoire and Angola respectively, the presence of R&B is being felt across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kenya seems to be leading the charge in this resurgence, according to Spotify data over the last 90 days – the Tantalizers playlist gets most of its streams from the country, and R&B ranks in the top five genres in Kenya. Across SSA, The Weeknd, Chris Brown, SZA, Rihanna and Beyoncé are the artists who the Spotify R&B listeners cannot get enough of. Locally, artists like Kenya’s Xenia Manasseh, Ghana’s Baaba J, South Africa’s Lloyiso and Nigeria’s Bloody Civillian have the people in their feels.
It is on the back of this sweeping growth that R&B collaborations between international icons and African artists are becoming more commonplace than they were only a decade ago. From the mesmerising strains of ‘WAIT FOR U’ by Drake, Future, and Tems to the captivating melodies of ‘Monalisa’ by Chris Brown, Lojay, and Sarz, and Chris Brown tapping Wizkid for ‘Call Me Everyday’, Africa’s stars are shining bright on the world stage.
And now, African singers are also connecting with one another to release global hits all on their own. The Ghana-Nigeria collaboration on Camidoh’s ‘Sugarcane’ (Remix) featuring King Promise, Darkoo, and Mayorkun as well as ‘Essence’ by Nigerian powerhouses Wizkid and Tems, are treating the ears of music lovers near and far.
Musicians across the continent are seamlessly blending soulful vocals with traditional African rhythms, Afrobeat grooves, and contemporary production techniques. This blend produces a sound that not only resonates with listeners but also bridges the gap between the past and the present. It is no surprise therefore that most of the R&B streams in SSA come from Gen Z’s aged between 18-24, followed by 25-29 year olds.
R&B in Africa is more alive than ever. As this borderless journey continues to move like wildfire, we see that the power of music has no boundaries, whether by location or generation.