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 Ghana to Kenya, the mixes of dancehall and rap 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.
Prettyboy D-O – Korokoro
Prettyboy D-O releases the impressive “Korokoro”. Although the dancehall, alté and r&b artist had already proved he could rap on the brilliant “Lord protect my steppings”, accompanied by English rapper Pa Salieu, he does it again and will convince even the most fervent rap fans with “Korokoro”. A breathtaking performance, with a sharp, percussive flow over an obscure, heady beat. Prettyboy offers two minutes of pure rap, where punchlines follow one another with disconcerting ease. The rapper takes aim at those trying to profit from his success, and makes it clear that he won’t let his “ops” do their thing. Prettyboy also takes the opportunity to show off his acting skills in a short-film-style clip in which he once again demonstrates the extent of his talent.
Andy S – Prodada
Andy S once again proves that Babi, aka Abidjan, is on the verge of becoming the new rap capital. The Abidjan rapper invites Marla – another name on the Ivorian rap scene – on the phenomenal “Prodada”, the first single from her EP Il était une fois Pépita, out this September 2023. “Prodada”, nouchi for “show-off”, and the lyrics of this new egotrip sound hammer home the importance of enjoying life, even burning it, at 100 km/h on motorcycles if need be: “Je prends ton mon djai (mon argent) pour faire prodada, l’argent de mon school dans prodada, l’argent de mon pain dans prodada” (I’m taking your djai (my money) to make prodada, my school money in prodada, my bread money in prodada), Andy S chants. The lively flows of the two rappers take turns and intertwine to perfection over a fast-paced beat by Nanh on the track. Like her EP Le rap n’a pas de sexe, Andy S demonstrates that she masters the rhyme and that she has the potential to be a headliner.
Kima – Drug Ka Vann
How can we talk about rap without making a detour to Martinique? A hub of some of the most talented artists of their generation. Today, it’s Kima who makes the island shine alongside LevelSantana on the powerful “Drug Ka Vann”. Journey into troubled waters with this hazy sound. The two rappers join forces on a drill beat – hardly a surprising choice given the presence of LevelSantana, a member of the BSB (Gazo’s collective) – to which are added touches of jersey for a danceable rhythm. An explosive, energetic complement just a few months after the release of the brilliant Baby Project album. Kima is a rapper already validated by big names such as Kalash and Meryl, with whom he featured this year. The artist is well on the way to becoming a key figure on the Martinique rap scene.
Frida Amani – Talk to me nice
The rapper from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, continues her string of single successes. Her hit “Madam President”, in which she made the link between her personal success and that of Tanzania’s first female president Samia Suluhu, sent shockwaves through the country, and now she’s back on the throne with “Talk to me nice”. One thing we can say is that Frida is far from being a bongo flava (name of Tanzanian hip hop) rookie, given that she began her career in 2015. “Talk to me nice” is just like the other singles in Frida Amani’s career: a committed and aggressive track, she reminds us that being a woman and a rapper is not mutually exclusive. Accompanied by Moni Centrozone, the artist shows her fangs and reminds us that you’ll have to put some respect on her name if you don’t want to have to deal with her. She’s on the brink of taking control of the Tanzanian rap scene, and maybe soon, the rap world.
DJ Sliqe – Ekhoneni
South African hip hop sensation DJ Sliqe, or Lutendo Kungoane to give him his real name, is back in the music news with the eagerly awaited “Ekhoneni”. This is the first single since the release of his critically acclaimed album Champion Music 2. He invites Emtee, Thota Saul and Saudi for a hit in the colors of victory, and this track marks the comeback of Emtee, who hasn’t been in the spotlight for a few years. Emtee’s catchy chorus is a rare reminder of the impact he has had on South African hip hop over the last 10 years. The beat is carried by trumpets and percussion, making it more of an anthem than a simple song. The four rappers, with their ease of voice and stage presence, transform “Ekhoneni” into a high-flying performance.
Masicka – Tyrant
Masicka is no longer a sensation, but a phenomenon. The Jamaican producer and artist sets no limits, and this is reflected in his art. You can’t talk about Jamaican dancehall without mentioning his name, and he’s just as comfortable singing as he is rapping. He shows this perfectly on “Tyrant”, which features both soaring melodies and sharp verses with a polished flow. A talent recognized by the legendary Def Jam label (now owned by the giant Universal), which signed him, raising hopes of a new album in the near future. He takes the opportunity to take us into the darkest corners of Jamaica and explore everyday life on the street, all enhanced by a magnificent video by Ruption. Masicka is a force to be reckoned with on the rap and dancehall scene.
Reggie – Oh Ma Linda
Taken from his recently released album Most High, the single “Oh Ma Linda” is a fine demonstration of Reggie’s versatility. The Ghanaian rapper reveals a more love-oriented side of his universe in the company of O’Kenneth and his honeyed hooks, Jaybahd and his resounding voice, and Kwaku DMC and his punchy rhymes. Another success for Reggie Jaybahd and O’Kenneth, who had already served up the incredible, darker “Makaveli”. The alchemy of these four artists makes “Oh Ma Linda” a track that is sure to leave its mark on the year. And Most High will, more generally, succeed in reaching many audiences thanks to the quality and diversity of its productions. For those who still doubt it, Ghana’s gold is its artistic wealth.
Black K – Ça va me donner quoi
Black K and Fior 2 Bior transport us into their crazy world with the energetic “Ça va me donner quoi”. There’s no stopping artistic originality in the land of coupé-décalé, and “Ça va me donner quoi” is no exception to the rule. After all the praise for “Tout est loué” with Lesky, which was a huge success, it’s Fior 2 Bior who backs up Black K. All on an instrumentation halfway between trap and coupé-décalé, as the Ivorians are the only ones able to do. Black K continues his ascent, as do the other members of the group with whom he began rapping KNB (Kiff No Beat), featuring Didi B, who is no more to be introduced. “Je vais mentir ça va me donner quoi?” ( “I’m going to lie, what’s that going to get me?”) chant the two rappers: one thing’s for sure, their talent for livening up listeners doesn’t lie.
Wangechi – MZIGO
A year after her album Chonjo, Wangechi is back. But the Kenyan rapper isn’t doing it alone, she’s accompanied by the BURUKLYN BOYZ group on the dynamic “MZIGO”. Not all the Buruklyn Boys are present, given the size of the group, which is made up of a dozen rappers, but the two co-founders, A Jay and Mr. Right, are there. Wangechi comes in with a dark, bass-heavy drill track, which may explain why she chose to invite the BURUKLYN BOYZ, Kenya’s new drill experts. A meeting between two rap generations that can only delight us, this union gives birth to ever more passionate rap.
Nayra – Le Nord
Dark atmosphere and orange background, Nayra let us enter the world of an artist who never loses her bearings. After her three-track Sumud, which was a good appetizer, Nayra unveils the video for “Le Nord”. The clip is made up of impressive chromatics at the center of which Nayra takes off on a full egotrip with a rare magnetism. Three minutes of rap coated with North African sounds and a verse in Arabic, a fine tribute to her Moroccan culture, which the rapper likes to highlight. An artist who has worked hard to get where she is, as she so aptly puts it: “Me surpasser je fais en sorte, ça ne suffit pas pour être au top” (“I try to surpass myself, but it’s not enough to be at the top”), and when we see her artistic achievement, we can have no doubt that she will go far.
Find the full selection in our Pan African Rap playlist.