Billboard has dedicated its newest special issue to Africa, celebrating the vibrant and rhythmic beats that the continent produces. Davido, Tiwa Savage and Mr. Eazi are on the cover of the special edition. The visibility and presence of African artistes have gained popularity since streaming services have become easily accessible.
The feature gives credit to notable collaborations with artistes like Drake’s “One Dance” with WizKid and albums like the Beyoncé-curated The Lion King: The Gift which featured various African artistes.
“The three major-label groups—Universal, Warner and Sony—have all ramped up their investments in Africa in recent years: opening offices, sending A&R scouts to major hubs and forming joint ventures and partnerships,” the feature reads, adding, “[Africa] has also emerged as a particular wellspring of talent, thanks to stars like Tiwa Savage, Davido and Mr. Eazi…[highlighting] just how many possibilities await African talent.”
Davido shared with Billboard that the feeling listeners get from Afrobeats is out of this world, which has made the world’s interest in the African music scene gain grounds.
“The music is amazing. The feeling you get from Afrobeats and African music is just different,” he said. “When I was in school in America and would play African music, people would say, ‘Yo, what’s that? That shit’s hard.’”
“They didn’t understand what the artists were saying, but the feeling they got [from the music] was just crazy. People have always loved African music, but we didn’t have the avenues to go worldwide. Back then, you actually had to have an African friend or come to Africa to experience it,” he added.
African artistes are making music and the world is certainly taking notice now even though there have been mainstream African artistes like Angelique Kidjoe and Fela Kuti in the past.
The cover stars have played notable roles to put African music on the map. Mr Eazi who is an independent artiste performed at Coachella Music and Arts Festival in 2019, Davido’s “Fall” set a record in Billboard history as the longest-charting Nigerian pop song. Tiwa Savage won the “Best African Act” category at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards and became the first female winner at that.
Today people still have grave misconceptions about Africa and although there are positive images of the continent out there, they still choose to live on the negative images. All three artistes say they have experienced such misconceptions one way or the other.
“It was a lot worse before, when people literally thought we lived in trees. That was a big misconception,” Savage said.
“But it’s changing as people see pictures via social media when people visit places like Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Nothing beats that experience when somebody actually lands in Africa. And it depends where in Africa, because it’s a continent and not a country.”