Music

Afrobeats Fresh Picks: Asake, Black Sherif, Highlyy, Fave, Yung D3mz, PsychoYP & More

While 2023 represented a year of remarkable growth for African music, 2024 is already shaping up to be a year where multiple new stars are discovered. Singer-songwriter-producer Yung D3mz was selected as Apple Music’s Up Next artist in Ghana at the end of last year, and new fans can discover his recent EP Before the Sun Comes Down. And after scoring high-profile features on Davido and Olamide‘s albums, Nigerian singer-songwriter Fave is making a name for herself, especially with her new single “Belong to You.”

And 2024 will also be the year that the superstars will receive higher honors than ever before. On Sunday (Feb. 4), the Recording Academy will give out the Grammy award for best African music performance for the first time. Nominees in the category include Mr. Money Asake, who doesn’t stop getting after the money in his new single “Only Me,” and Davido, who reunited with Kizz Daniel for the first time since their 2018 collaboration “One Ticket” on the remix of “Twe Twe.”

We’ve highlighted 10 of our favorite new Afrobeats (and related) songs that have come out roughly within the last month. Get into our first Fresh Picks of 2024, and start off the new year with some new tunes in our Spotify playlist below.

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Chssom & Crayon, “Chemistry Luv”  

Chssom and Crayon capture the intense pull of “Chemistry Luv” with high-pitched piano chords that could be transposed for the woman of their dreams to walk down the aisle to. “Girl, I’ve never felt like this before!” Chssom exclaims in the hook, demonstrating the potency of the spell he’s under.  

Yung D3mz & Tera Kòrá, “Futuristic”  

Yung D3mz recruits Curaçaoan producer Tera Kòrá for the sun-soaked penultimate track of his latest EP, Before the Sun Comes Down. Kòrá’s “soulswing” sound – which he describes as “a warm and moving, loungey vibe” that’s inspired by his “sunny Caribbean roots” – breathes new life into D3mz’s Afro-fusion. From the dizzying flute melodies to the bubbling bassline, it’s impossible not to sway your hips to this song.  

KJ Spio, Oxlade & Sarkodie, “Undress You”  

Ghanaian music executive and self-proclaimed “culturepreneur” KJ Spio taps Oxlade and Sarkodie for this slinky, sensual track. With a swoon-worthy melody inspired by T-Pain’s 2005 smash “I’m Sprung,” “Undress You” paints a lascivious picture of how they plan on letting the night unfold, with Oxlade crooning “Time to have sex” in the chorus (a la Mad Cobra’s 1992 dancehall hit “Flex”) and Sarkodie rapping, “More sex less talk we waking up to the sunset.”  

Highlyy, “Honest” 

The Essex-born Congolese breakout sensation bares her soul on the “Honest” cut from her debut EP +243. The twinkling keys and pensive pitter-patter of the percussion give listeners a glimpse of the war between Highlyy’s head and heart, as she remains firm in her decision to end things with a lover – even if it’s one of the toughest decisions she’s had to make. “I was talking to a boy, a very toxic situationship. There’s always that person that you say you’re done with but keep running back to them. That song means everything to me because it’s so true,” she told Clash.  

PsychoYP & Jeriq, “Disintegrate”  

No one and nothing can break down indomitable Nigerian rappers PsychoYP and Jeriq on “Disintegrate,” the first track off their joint EP Evil Twin. The two effortlessly feed off of each other’s flows, flexing with lines like “Afum your 12 missed calls during a business meeting, I’m sorry but I won’t call you back unless Inwe ezigbo reason,” because the hustle doesn’t stop for anyone.  

Fave, “Belong To You”

The young Nigerian singer broke out in a big way in the past few years, with high-profile features on tracks by Davido and Olamide and her own single “Baby Riddim,” but this new cut is something different from her — a straight-up R&B-pop cut that showcases her powerful vocals and the emotion in her voice as she relates a relationship seemingly broken, but with deep wells of feeling under the surface. She’s poised for a breakout look.

Asake, “Only Me”

Sometimes it seems like the breakout star of the past two years can do no wrong, and Asake keeps up the relentless pace of his output here with another catchy, melodic hit for the catalog. He has a way of crafting these earworms out of small phrases that give his songs a lasting quality, and his inclination to always incorporate choral backing vocals gives his songs a cinematic feel that others just can’t match.

Black Sherif, “January 9th”

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, the Ghanaian takes time to reflect on his position and the weight of the pressure on him, while seeming to take a very zen point of view on the matter. The production is deeply soulful and his lyrics rise to the occasion, making this single a mission statement of sorts — with everything he’s got going on, everything is still alright. It’s a good sign for his forthcoming album.

Kizz Daniel & Davido,” Twe Twe”

The remix to Kizz’s latest single features one of Africa’s biggest stars, and has fun playing with and overlaying different rhythms and syncopation, which helps it stand out from many of its contemporary songs on the scene right now. The lush production propels it forward and the duo — together on a track for the first time in several years — brings it home.

Ckay, “Is It You?”

Afrobeats’ resident emotional loverboy returns with another entry in the genre, with a wistful hook and verses that see him pining over a woman he’s just met. His melodies and vocals have continually set him apart, and while we wait to see what else he’s got in store, he keeps hitting his sweet spot with songs that recall some of his biggest hits, though with a bouncier beat behind him here.

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