To kick off 2023, Billboard launched a new, monthly Afrobeats column to keep you up to speed with the fast-rising stars coming out of the African continent and soaring across the globe. Burna Boy, Tems and Rema performing at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game halftime show in Salt Lake City, Utah this past weekend is proof that African artists will only continue to expand beyond their borders and push beyond Afrobeats’ traditional boundaries — incorporating hip-hop, amapiano, R&B, jazz, soul and just about everything else into a melting pot that, for lack of a better overarching term, we’ll still refer to as Afrobeats.
We’ve highlighted 10 of our favorite new Afrobeats (and related) songs that’ve come out within the last month. Love’s certainly in the air this season, from Pheelz’s feel-good, romantic jam “Pheelz Like Summer” to Khaid’s sweet ode “Jolie,” and decisions on what to include or not have been particularly tough — Rema, for example, just dropped two new tracks, though neither made the list here. Check out our Fresh Picks, and don’t forget to tap into our Spotify playlist below so you can catch a vibe with us.
Tyla, “Been Thinking”
Epic’s latest signee Tyla clearly has love on the brain, as evidenced by her latest single “Been Thinking.” The 21-year-old singer’s otherworldly pop and R&B sensibilities blend with her native South African amapiano in this slinky earworm that’ll have you wishing you were grinding on the love of your life in the middle of the dance floor before going home with them. “I’m just praying that [African music] keeps going the way it’s going. I feel like all eyes are on us right now,” Tyla told Billboard earlier at the Recording Academy Honors Black Music Collective event. “It’s a huge opportunity for us to now take it and run with it. We’ve been wanting this for a long time, so it’s about time.”
Pheelz, “Pheelz Like Summer”
Fresh off the success of his single “Finesse,” Pheelz delivers his Warner Records debut EP Pheelz Good, which is precisely how it makes you pheel. On the highlight track “Pheelz Like Summer,” the award-winning Nigerian producer-turned-singer gushes over a girl whose radiant smile makes him feel so warm inside that it reminds him of summer – even if it’s still only February. The sensual sax intro and buoyant beats evoke the warmer season, while Pheelz ushers in a season of love every time he coos, “Ooh-ooh-ooh/ Ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh.”
Stonebwoy, “More Of You”
Def Jam’s latest signee Stonebwoy begs his girl to give him “More of You” in his sultry latest single. The Ghanaian Afropop/reggae artist clearly can’t get enough of her, pleading with her to dance with him to a spellbinding rhythm – courtesy of Grammy-nominated producer Supa Dups – that we can’t get enough of. Ultimately, Stonebwoy becomes so mesmerized by her beauty in the animated visual that he succumbs to her like the Biblical forbidden fruit and ends up naked in a garden like Eden.
The Cameroonian-French crooner makes listeners swoon with dreamy scenarios and explicit rendezvous details that just roll off the tip of his French mother tongue with his latest album, ROOM 96. On the highlight “Success,” Tayc reflects on a woman who can’t handle his success and its side effects (like extra eyes on her), continuing to assuage her with sweet nothings that’ll make anyone’s ears tingle. Yet the ultra-sexy production of “Success” glosses over Tayc’s biting outro: “You’re just not ready for this, you should let me know/ ‘Cause, um, basically my life ain’t gonna change for you/ I, I love my life/ I love my place and I’m not gonna move anything for anybody.”
Michaël Brun feat. Oxlade, “Clueless”
Haitian DJ/producer Michaël Brun teams up with the “KU LO SA” Nigerian singer on the infectious Carribbean-Afro-fusion collaboration “Clueless.” Oxlade delivers a chant-worthy chorus with his enunciation of the track’s title, while he toys with the idea of loving a girl who’s equally his “antidote and poison” over Brun’s laidback beats. “Working with Oxlade was such an honor,” Brun says in a press release. “The operatic elements of his voice and the ways in which he uses harmonies and layers are what make Oxlade who he is — a true legend.”
Asake has been on a heater for almost a year now, peaking with his debut album Mr. Money With the Vibe last September — and he hasn’t slowed down his output since, with “Yoga” his latest single to make waves. There’s a comfortable, soothing vibe to the track that comes across in his vocals and belies the lyrics, which stress the need to protect against things that will disrupt your peace — and the hook is a balm to alleviate such stresses. “Yoga” is the calm in the midst of a firestorm, a perfect song for imperfect times.
More than a simple love song, “Jolie” has melodies that pile on top of each other to get stuck in the mind and get stronger as the track goes on. Relatively new to the game — his first project of any kind was a six-song EP from last year, titled DIVERSITY — Khaid is still a teenager, and still developing as an artist, but “Jolie” shows there’s a lot of promise and talent that’s already there, with a world of possibility ahead of him.
Spinall feat. BNXN & Stefflon Don, “Oshey”
First things first — this DJ Spinall album has been spinning out phenomenal singles for about a year now, including his collaborations with Adekunle Gold (“Cloud 9”) and Asake (“Palazzo”), both of which initially came out last year. Now that the full project, titled Top Boy, was released Feb. 17, there’s more to dig into, with this collaboration with BNXN and Stefflon Don a particular highlight, showcasing all the different styles that weld together this diverse and compelling project. (But seriously, listen to “Cloud 9” and thank us later.)
BNXN, Kizz Daniel & Seyi Vibez, “GWAGWALADA”
A reference to an area of Nigeria, “GWAGWALADA” brings together three of the most intriguing Afrobeats artists from the country in BNXN, Kizz Daniel and Seyi Vibez, each bringing their distinctive vocals and styles to mesh seamlessly over the laid back, feel-good production by Sarz. BNXN has thrived in the last few years via collaborations with the likes of Wizkid, Burna Boy and Pheelz, and “GWAGWALADA” adds another flawless team-up to his growing discography.
Young Jonn feat. Olamide, “Currency”
Young Jonn has stepped beyond his producer title and has been dropping a series of infectious singles of late; “Xtra Cool,” released last October, probably should have been in this column last month, but “Currency” is another worthy entry. Longtime collaborator Olamide comes through to switch up the vibe, but it’s all additive, making this another insistent earworm of a record.