The new West African sound?
Updated: Dec 20, 2020
What is the typical West African sound?
The typical West African sound can be summed up by the Afrobeats genre. Afrobeats is a genre that stems from Ghana and Nigeria, whose popularity really grew in the 2000s and 2010s. It can be seen as a fusion of the sounds that flow out of both Ghana and Nigeria, which infuses various other genres including Hiplife, Hip Hop and Palm-wine music. Notable Afrobeats artists include Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Sarkodie, R2Bees and more.
However, I’ve noticed a new sound has been emerging recently, especially from those two countries. The new sound I’ve been hearing isn’t the typical Afrobeats or Hiplife sounds often heard from Ghana and Nigeria. It’s more of an American style of R&B and trap.
This post isn’t to say that either styles of music are good or bad or that one is better than the other, but it’s to show that music from those countries can be very versatile. There’s often a misconception that musicians from Ghana and Nigeria are only capable of making a certain sound, but the following artists prove otherwise.
Ödartei is a budding young talent from Ghana. Earlier this year he released a small project called Cool and although there are only 3 songs on there, each song is beautiful in their own way. From hearing him on his own songs and on features, Ödartei’s sound is very distinct from the usual Afrobeats sound. He’s definitely someone worth listening to.
Amaarae is a Ghanaian American singer with a very amazing voice. I first heard of her a few years back on Stonebwoy’s Pepper Dem track along with Edem, but it wasn’t until recently that I seriously started to listen to her music. She’s a talented individual who’s able to do the whole whisper-style of singing so effortlessly, whilst providing us with good vibes music. Her recent single Leave Me Alone really shows off all the talent she has!
Odunsi (The Engine), Nigeria
Odunsi (The Engine) is a fast rising Nigerian singer, songwriter and producer. He has been viewed as a huge contributor to the Nigerian alté scene. His style of music combines several genres including Afrobeats, R&B and Soul. I’m yet to listen to his recent EP, EVERYTHING YOU HEARD IS TRUE, but I’ve heard that it’s very promising.
$pacely is a Ghanaian rapper and singer, who is a part of La Meme Gang. La Même Gang is a music collective made up of four talented and creative artists, who are able to blend trap and hip-hop with the Ghanaian sound and language so well. $pacely deserves a notable mention for his Fine$$e or be Fine$$ed EP released in 2019. The majority of the tracks on that on EP have a very distinct hip hop and trap sound. This EP really stood out to me because of how different it sounded to the usual Afrobeats that I'm used to hearing. Some of the best tracks on that EP include Yawa ft Kofi Mole, Somimu ft Magnom and Cina Soul (another amazing artist), Show Me ft BOJ, Sweet ft Odunsi (The Engine) and Ready.
Nonso Amadi, Nigeria
Nonso Amadi is a Canadian singer and songwriter from Nigeria. His music draws on the influences from these two countries in a beautiful way. These influences have allowed him to become a rising star in the new sound emerging from West Africa. On his website, it states that Nonso Amadi is someone who “believes that African music is a global sound” and I couldn’t agree more.
Cruel Santino aka Santi is a singer/rapper who has also been credited with contributing to the Nigerian alté scene. He’s created a genre around himself which blends rap, dancehall and the alternative sound. Something that he does so well. After listening to a few of his songs, I definitely think that he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Cina Soul, Ghana
Cina Soul is a talented Ghanaian musician with a diverse vocal range. She’s able to bring together R&B, Soul and Highlife by singing in both English and Ga. She has often described her musical influences as being Brandy, Sade, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. Her ability to blend several musical styles is evident through her 2019 hit, Killi Mi, which is a soothing song blending Highlife and R&B together whilst tackling relationship abuse.
The main thing I’m trying to say here is that these artists have shown that music transcends country borders. These artists have shown that just because you’re from a certain country doesn’t mean you can’t branch out and dip into other genres. Artists should not be placed in a box because of where they’re from, especially when they are more than capable of making amazing music. The artists mentioned in the post all deserve a listen, and trust me you won't regret it.