10 artists from the North and East Regions of Africa that you need to know about
North African Artists:
Sudanese singer Nadine Elroubi first appeared in the world of music back in September 2018 with the single “Throne”. Since then, she has gone on to release several more singles including: “Indigo Blue”, “Pipe Dreams”, “Doing Well” and “Pac-Man”.
Nadine kicked off her 2021 with the single – “gr8ful”– a song with a message of positive affirmation. The follow-up single “Hair Up” is a song about self-love and being comfortable – which was popular amongst listeners. Most recently Nadine released her third single of 2021 – “after everything” – a song about dealing with heartbreak.
Tamino is an artist of Belgian, Egyptian, and Lebanese heritage. The young singer first came into the spotlight in 2016 after being invited by Belgian band, Het Zesde Metaal to play a Radio 1 session. He performed the track “Habibi”, which proved popular, ultimately resulting in Tamino being picked up by Radio 1.
He would then go on to release his debut EP – Habibi, in 2018 which featured the popular tracks: “Indigo Night” and “Cigar”. Later that year Tamino released his first full-length project – Amir. The album featured the four tracks from his EP as well as an additional eight tracks including: “Tummy”, “Each Time” and “Persephone”.
In 2019 Tamino released a deluxe version of Amir, which featured live performance versions of several songs.
Naila is a singer-songwriter from Egypt. Her musical journey first began after her rendition of the popular Moloko track “Sing it Back” – which she collaborated with musician/producer Ash on. The two have worked together on several other songs which include: “Gorgeous”, “Give a Little” and “Dust in Sky”.
Naila’s solo debut was the single “So Many Ways” in 2019 and she has continued to craft her skills as an artist. Her most recent single, “Lonely Tower”, was released in February 2021.
Malak El Husseiny, better known as Malak, is an Egyptian singer-songwriter and artist.
She kicked off her career with her debut EP, Alters, in 2014. In May 2021, Malak dropped her first album – Bedside. The eight-track project features the popular tracks: “Can’t Catch An Emotion”, “Mirror A Dream” and “You Are”.
Moroccan-born, US-raised singer Abir first came into the world of music in 2016 with the single – “Wave”, featuring Masego. Since then Abir has released a number of singles such as: “Way Out”, “Young and Rude” and “Inferno”.
In 2020, Abir released her debut album – Heat. As well as “Inferno” other tracks featured on the album include: “Yallah”, “Yacht” and “Pray For Me”.
Sara El Messiry aka Felukah is an Egyptian rapper born and raised in Cairo. Currently based in New York, Felukah’s musical journey began with the release of her EP, Yansoon, in 2018. For the past three years, Felukah has released several singles, a mixtape – Citadel, and her debut album, Dream 23, in 2019.
In May she released her EP – Kawkab and in July released the single, “Allaya’teek”, featuring The Synaptik.
Laureen Rebeha Zouaï aka Lolo Zouaï is an Algerian French-born American R&B and Pop artist. She debuted in 2017 with the track, “So Real”. In 2019, Lolo Zouaï released her debut album – High Highs to Low Lows. The 12-track album included the songs: “Desert Rose”, “Caffeine” and “Moi”.
In June, Lolo Zouaï released her first single of 2021 – “Galipette” and in August released a remix of the track, featuring BIBI.
In 2022, Lolo Zouaï is set to tour with Dua Lipa – with the first date set for April.
Dounia is a Moroccan-American singer, songwriter, model and activist. She first started off as a model and would use those funds to kickstart a career in music. Her debut single, “East Coast Hiding” was released in January 2017. She then went on to release her debut EP, Intro To, in October that year.
Since then, Dounia has continued to progress as an artist with the release of two more EPs – The Avant-Garden and NOT GOOD FOR THE EGO in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Dounia would gain popularity after collaborating with American artist Kehlani for the track – “Rich Girl Mood”, which was featured on The Avant-Garden EP.
In July 2019 she also released her album – The Scandal – which featured the popular tracks: “DELIGHTFUL”, “LOWKEY GRL” (featuring Moroccan Doll) and “ROYAL”.
Most recently Dounia has released the single “LAVENDER” in April.
Faouzia is a Moroccan-Canadian singer-songwriter whose musical career began back in 2015. Like many artists these days, she first began posting her songs and covers on YouTube. This eventually led to Faouzia being signed to the Paradigm Talent Agency. That same year she released her first single – “Knock on My Door” and would later go on to release two more singles in 2017 – “My Heart’s Grave” and “Closed Door”.
Over the years, Faouzia continued to release singles before eventually dropping her debut EP – Stripped, in 2020. She even managed to collab with American artist John Legend on the song “Minefields”. That same year, she was also featured on the soundtrack for the movie, Scoob!, with the song – “I Fly” along with Swedish Electronic Dance duo, Galantis.
Ilham is an American singer/songwriter of Moroccan descent. Born and raised in Queensbridge, New York, the rising star first came to the forefront in 2018, with her debut single – “last night” featuring Dave East. In September that year, Ilham released her debut album – 41-10. The 10-track album included the popular song, “cycle of games” which featured singer Arin Ray.
The following year Ilham went on to release her second album – with time. Popular tracks on the album include: “in too deep”, “never even know” and “back and forth”.
To date, Ilham’s most recent single is “uh huh”, released in early 2020; which was followed by a lo-fi remix a few months later.
East African Artists:
Raymond Shaban Mwakyusa aka Rayvanny is a young singer-songwriter from Tanzania. His career in music first began in 2011 while he was still in high school. The young artist would later go on to win a freestyle rap competition and join the music group, Tip Top Connection, in 2012.
In 2015 he signed with Tanzania-based record label – WCB Wasafi. A year later, Rayvanny would go on to release his debut single, “Kwetu” – a huge hit in East Africa. Rayvanny would go on to be nominated for an MTV Africa Music Award in the Best Breakthrough Act category. He would go on to nominated for numerous awards including the International Viewers’ Choice Award at the 2017 BET Awards – which he won.
Most recently Rayvanny founded his own record label – Next Level Music and was featured on the Roki track, “Patiti Patata”, which also featured Koffi Olomide.
Ugandan artist Spice Diana first came into the spotlight in 2014 with her debut single – “Onsanula”. The song was a hit and earned her the Best Female Breakthrough Award at the 3rd HiPipo Music Awards in 2015.
Following the success of her debut, Spice Diana released her first album, Bimpe, in 2017; which featured the singles: “Bukete”, “Anti Kale”, “Tokombako” and “I Miss You”. Since then, Spice Diana has released several EPs and albums, with her most recent album, Kokonya, released in 2020.
Femi One is a female rapper hailing from Kenya. The young emcee first came into the spotlight on King Kaka’s single “Ligi Soo (Remix)” back in 2013. Since then, she has continued pursue her career as a rapper, achieving a breakthrough with her single “Utawenza” in 2020.
In June 2021, Femi One released her latest album – Greatness, with the lead single, “Adonai”. Recently she dropped a music video for the second single, “Balance”.
Femi One also made history this year, becoming the first African female ambassador for Monster Energy Drink.
Zuchu is a singer and songwriter from Tanzania. Born Zuhura Othman Soud, Zuchu comes from a musical family and background. Her mother is Khadija Kopa – a Taarab musician. Zuchu would being singing from an early age and would eventually make her official debut into the world of music in 2020. In April 2020, the emerging artist released her debut album, I Am Zuchu – which included the popular tracks: “Wana”, “Raha” and “Mauzauza” featuring her mother.
Zuchu most notably gained popularity online becoming the first East African female artist to reach 100,000 subscribers within a week. She would later go on to become the first East African female artist to reach 1 million subscribers 11 months later.
Most recently, Zuchu released her fifth single of 2021 – “Yalaaaa”.
Sauti Sol are a Kenyan afro-pop group. The members of the group are: Bien-Amie Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno. The group was first formed in 2005 and would go to release their debut album, Mwanzo, in 2009.
As of 2021, Sauti Sol have released four more albums, with their fifth, Midnight Train, being released in 2020.
AKA Keyz is a Sudanese rapper/producer based in Birmingham. His first album, The Seed, was released in 2017. Over the years AKA Keyz has released a number of songs and collaborated with a number of artists including Aidyproof, Eaz the Bully, and Omar Majid.
Earlier in March, AKA Keyz dropped his second album – Roots. In early August he appeared on the Soultrotter track – “No Competition”, along with fellow artist Tac.
Gaidaa is a Dutch-Sudanese singer-songwriter from the Netherlands.
The young starlet first came into the spotlight in 2017, after her cover of a Kehlani track caught the attention of producer Full Crate. The following year the two would collaborate on the track – “A Storm on a Summers Day” – which proved popular amongst audiences. Gaidaa would later go on to debut her solo track, “Morning Blue” in 2019 and has continued to grow as an artist.
Gaidaa released her debut album, Overture, in 2020. The album featured the popular tracks: “Stranger” and “Falling Higher”.
Gaidaa’s most recent single is “Let Me – A COLORS ENCORE” – released earlier this year. She is also featured on Pip Millett’s EP, Motion Sick, appearing on the track “Sad Girls”.
Jacob Obunga aka Otile Brown is a Kenyan singer, songwriter, and actor. He first found fame after the release of his single, “Imaginary Love” featuring Khaligraph Jones in 2016. In 2017 he went on to release his debut album – Best of Otile Brown.
Otile has continued to grow as an artist, releasing many singles over the years including popular tracks: “Chaguo La Moyo”, “Dusuma” and “Baby Love”. In June 2020 he released his album – Just In Love. This year Otile has released nine singles with “K.O” being the most recent.
Azawi is a Ugandan singer-songwriter. Her musical journey began in 2005, where she started off as a dancer after joining the cultural dance troupe. In 2011, she began writing songs as a hobby before deciding she could make money from this. She began writing for other artists such as Lydia Jazmine, Nina Roz, and Eddy Kenzo.
In 2019, Azawi was discovered by Swangz Avenue – a record label based in Uganda, and the following year would release her debut single – “Quinamino”. In February 2020, Azawi released her debut EP – Lo Fit. That same year, she was featured on the Bebe Cool single – “Chapter One: Corona Distance”. The song was created to make listeners aware of the different measures to take in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A few of the other Ugandan artists on the track include: Vinka, Fik Fameica and A Pass.
In 2021, Awazi released two singles – “My Year” and “Slow Dancing”.
Bensoul is a Kenyan singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. He first came onto the African music scene with his single – “Lucy” in 2019. He would later follow up his debut with three more singles – “Favourite Song”, “Niombee” and “Ile Kitu”.
Bensoul released his debut EP – Qwarantunes, in May 2020; which featured popular tracks: “Forget You” and “Peddi”. In 2021, Bensoul released his second EP – Medicine and was featured on the single, “National Treasure” – collaborating with artists Bien-aime Baraza and AfroNautiq.