5 Hot African tracks from 2012

Watch out ONEsters, we’re re-launching our A-List series at you. Each week, we’ll be featuring our favorite lists and stories on African musicians, clothing brands, writers, films, artists and just about anything else you can think of from Africa. Look out for posts from our global staff, guest contributors from the continent, and — of course — ONE members. This will be a place to celebrate Africa’s creative voices and rising talent while bringing attention to the issues we’re working on. 

Growing up in an enclave of Los Angeles, in a little suburb called Valley Village, I was surrounded by people working in the entertainment industry – a business I would eventually jump into. My worldview was shaped by seeing first-hand the art of storytelling from some of the writers, musicians and entertainers I admired most. In my mind, a grounded script, illuminating rhymes or a memorable performance were vehicles for amplifying their author’s voice and message. And, as we’ve seen at ONE, they’re powerful social and cultural unifiers, no matter where you live or what you believe. Stories are blind that way. So, I decided to leave my hometown for ONE, wanting to explore that medium for good.

Can creative storytelling impact activism? We think so.

To get things started, check out this exciting list of some of our favorite tracks from 2012 by artists all over Africa. We scoured sites like okayafrica.com, NPR, spin.com, and africaisacountry.com to find aspiring artists already making lots of noise. If you dig one of their songs, drop us a comment and give their Facebook pages some love.

Got an idea for the A-List? Let us know by emailing [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang, “Somebody”
Janka Nabay, the self-proclaimed Bubu King from Sierra Leone, breathes new life into the traditional Muslim folk music, Bubu. https://www.facebook.com/BubuMusic

The Brother Moves On, “EPK”
From South Africa, Brother Moves On blends spoken word, jazz, rock and dance in an experimental fashion. https://www.facebook.com/thebrothermovesonband

The Very Best featuring K’NAAN, “We OK”
Founded by a Malawian Singer and a British DJ team, The Very Best is known for its electronic remixes and Afro-pop style. https://www.facebook.com/theverybest

Spoek Mathambo, “Let them Talk”
Inspired by Africa’s rich culture and progressivism, Spoek from South Africa turns to Afro-beats and electro-rap for some fun genre-bending music. https://www.facebook.com/spoekmathambo

Youssoupha, “Les Disques de Mon Père”
Big in the US underground scene, Youssoupha is a French rapper of Congolese origin. https://www.facebook.com/youssouphaofficiel

Which song did you like the most? Feel free to share it in the comments below. If you have an idea for the A-List, email [email protected].

Got a music rec? Tell us in a comment