All year long the PAM team is curating our Pan African Rap playlist, searching for the new hits and sounds that are pushing the boundaries of the world’s biggest genre. Whether it’s the drill waves from Kumasi to Kenya, the traditional mixes of mbalax or the captivating melodies of mahraganat, we try to gather the widest selection possible for a snapshot of Africa’s many rap movements. While our playlist is updated weekly with the latest sounds, our quarterly Pan African Rap selection is meant to show the best of the visual and sonic work from across the continent. With that, enjoy our selection of the 10 best Pan African Rap tracks of 2023 so far.
Odumdublvck – Declan Rice
Odumodublvck, longtime member of rap collective Anti World Gangstars and recent Native Records signee has been in the game for years but is recently making a breakout with a string of catchy singles that perfectly mix rap and afrobeats. Starting with the 2022 “Picanto” featuring Ecko Miles and Zlatan the Abuja native followed it up with this “viral video” (written humbly in the title) for “Declan Rice”, a reference to the West Ham English footballer. “Declan Rice” is a switch-up from Odumodublvck’s usual grimey-drill for a softer side that matches the energy of the many shoutouts throughout the track from Teezee to Trillo. Racking up hype, clout and streams in a short period of newfound fame, Odumodublvck is one to watch, and “Declan Rice” the latest Nigerian hit of 2023.
Ivorian rapper Tripa Gninnin has been relentlessly making his mark. In a recent interview with Ivorian rap godfather Didi B, he told us, when asking about the new up-and-comers, “Surveillez Tripa [Gninnin], mais on ne peut même plus le surveiller, c’est fini.” (Watch Tripa [Gninnin], but we can’t even watch him anymore, it’s over.). No longer the new kid on the block, Tripa is dropping hits with ease. This last track “Gros Coeur” (Big Heart) directed by another Ivorian rap killer Young Nouchi, shows Tripa at his best, with confident flows and “sans stress” (without stress).
Kenyan born Ugandan raised rapper MC Yallah, real name Yalah Gaudencia Mbidde, has one of the most rapid-fire flows on the continent. A longtime member of Nyege Nyege Collective and part of the East African rap scene since 1999, MC Yallah’s live performances, both in-person and online, have made rounds online consisting of fearsome energy, one-shot takes and relentless beats that are once again on display with “Sikwebela”. Working again with longtime collaborator, the wicked and wild French-Berlin producer, Debmaster, “Sikwebela ” comes ahead of the album YALLA BEIBE dropping April 14th. The relentless bars switching between Luganda, Luo, Kiswahili and English look easy when MC Yallah has the mic. It’s a follow-up to 2019’s Kubali that doesn’t disappoint and an appropriate teaser for what’s to come. In terms of African rap, and rap around the world, there’s nobody quite like MC Yallah.
Angolan rap troupe SÉKETXE are some of the grittiest and energetic voices in the game right now. This latest single, “TROPA DA MAYKA” featuring RASGADO and MURTALHA cements that position, led by frontman Talhuda whose delivery is totally captivating. Not much is known about the group online. But you can look to past singles and music videos like “FAZ UM CORO” or “BOLOCO” to get a sense of the hardcore, ghetto universe the group is creating. Consisting of six members: Talhuda, Layfado, Banzela, Djamba, Kokaina preta 12 furos and Rasgado, the group says their mission is to be “ambassadors of oppressed peoples who seek a motivation to live”. Originally a street kuduro outfit, their new style they call “RAP CIA”, which is meant to capture the experience of the ghettos in Luanda, is a potent mix of bars and beats.
Senegalese rapper Karabilik beatz teams up with Bilou XIV, Dip Doundou Guiss & Samba Peuzzi for a massive bop off his album General Kara. Written and produced by Karabilik beatz himself the producer-rapper holds his own on a track with Senegal’s rap star Samba Peuzzi. With choreography from Simpetin, BM Boy & Young Lex Crew, the four rappers cruise around “delivering” packages and busting moves to the steady beat featuring the mbalax rhythm.
Ghanaian rapper from the Abuakwa township of Kumasi, Kofi Mole, is a fresh blend of Slime Language inspired vocals in English and Twi, and a surprising mix of bouncy trap and smooth highlife. For a city that’s been championing the drill phenomenon, Kofi Mole’s “Win”, featuring Ghanaian rap superstar Kwesi Arthur, just after their 2022 track “Nirvana”, looks towards Atlanta over Detroit for rap inspiration. Both hailing from Kumasi and natural go-getters (Kofi grinding in the famous kanatamo market in his youth) Kofi says of his city, “everybody’s parent is a hustler and every other kid is talented.” In the clip that racked up over 75k views in just 5 days, Kofi raps about his “ghetto boy story” and making it to the top. In an interview with PAM for his last album Knackaveli Kofi told us, “I try as much as possible to be different all the time. Experimenting new things. I don’t limit myself to a particular type of genre.” It’s this individuality that makes Kofi Mole a standout in his scene whether in Ghana or abroad.
French label La Maison Caviar gives us “Jack Sparrow”, the first single from a forthcoming project of the great Meryl. The rapper-singer-producer from Martinique is set to make her comeback very soon, three years after the album Jour Avant Caviar. In the meantime, Meryl delivers a track in her own sunny, Creole and with masterful writing. A softer and lighter side to the artist certainly influenced by her collaboration with DJ Natoxie on the track with production by Lijay and Lazy Flow. The music video is directed by Cedric Richer, member of the Panamaera collective and highlights the dreamy landscapes of the island of flowers. The rapper takes us aboard her ship and sailing through Martinique culture awaiting an international tour in March 2023.
Comorian rapper, I.K aka TLF, real name Ikbal M’kouboi brings the whole Comorian rap scene together for a massive hit on “269%”. Titi Le fourbe, Hoosligo, Rim Karim, lil Simba, Djambsaid, captain djez, Enzo, Killamen, Bilwiz, LesKama KZ Puissance Sud, Aydii and Meido… A small playbook for your next Comorian rap digging session. “Children of comoros raised on rainwater. The doors are closed, I have to break them down,” I.K raps on a sample of the classic “Ouais Gros” of 113 revisited by Haze. Riding through the Comorian capital in a music video directed by CINEAST, these young artists honor their country and wave the Comorian flag proudly.
Abo El Anwar
Abo El-Anwar teams up with Ahmed Santa for his major hit penned for the Insomnia Egypt Gaming Festival, “GG”. In it Abu Al-Anwar brags about making it to the top, full of video game and FIFA references, claiming in Arabic he and his team will “honor the Arabs like Morocco” in reference to Morocco’s historic 2022 World Cup run, being the first African team to make it to the semi-finals which ushered in a wave of Arab and African support. Pulling notes from the Jersey beats that have given rocket fuel to recent hits like Lil Uzi Vert’s “Just Wanna Rock” or Cookie Kawaii’s “Vibe” Abo El-Anwar has been experimenting with drill, boom-bap and all of hip-hop’s kissing cousins. That isn’t to say the melodies aren’t reminiscent of the electro-mahraganat scene popping off in Cairo as well. All-in-all it’s a strong showing of the entire creative universe, from the stylishly animated clip to the catchy production and fitting feats.
You’ve been warned, the “Koukou Kourou Koukou” gimmick may stick in your head. With the track “Fogo”, the Guinea driller named Thiird continues his momentous rise. Making his mark since his debut in the group Gnamakalah, the native of Conakry has come to develop his own fanbase. Since, he’s been garnering anticipation for his solo project NMI KHAKHILI, the lead single of which already feature the Ivorian Shogun Didi B. “Fogo” is a fitting preview: from its dark drill instrumental to its incisive lyrics, the track is one of Thiird’s best performances yet.
TIF – “Shadow boxing”
Algeria / France
A few weeks ago, PAM met the rapper Tif just before the release of his latest album. Originally from Algeria, he is one of the leaders of the new North African rap scene, carried by prodigies like his sidekick, the Moroccan Khalil. With the release of 1.6, a highly anticipated follow-up to his high-flying performance on Houma Sweet Houma in 2022, Tif unveils yet more facets of his melodic rap universe, between hip-hop bass and oriental influences. The third single of the project, entitled “Shadow Boxing”, uses the recipe to perfection, on a track rapped in French. “I’m aware that there are a lot of people who don’t understand what I’m saying in Algeria because I rap in French and I use a lot of slang, but I think
Find the full selection in our Pan African Rap playlist.