7 Afropolitan artists to watch

1. Kay Elizabeth

Kay Elizabeth is a vocalist living in London, born in California, of Jamaican and English heritage. Her unique sound and performance style has formed through her personal voyages through history, experience and education. Becoming disenchanted in her youth with American education and popular culture, Kay found her musical interests moving away from the more conventional genres of radio pop and R&B and began what seems to be a never ending trans-Atlantic journey between the Bay Area and the UK´s underground music scenes of experimental jazz, hip hop, hardcore and London´s flourishing reggae and sound system cultures.
Her debut album ‘Disposition’ released October 2010 is ethereal and autumnal storytelling within acoustic composition, a work created out of poetry and prose set to minimalist chord progressions.

Sample her journey here

2. Bumi Thomas

Bumi’s poetic Jazz sounds have been influenced by Maya Angelou, Sade, Faithless, Bjork, Tracy Champman, Mariam Makeba, Saul Williams, Skin, Inner and outer space, the elements, Yinka Shonibare, Oli twista, Miles Davies,Chaka Chaka, The Outkast, Siji Awoyinka, Bobby Mcferrin, Fela & Seun Kuti, James Brown, Amel Larrieux,Nina Simone, Rox, Fat Freddy’s Drop,Buika, Thandisawa, Eryka Badu and Minnie Riperton.

Listing her influences is a perfect way to hint at the sensual, tribal and organic soul sound this fantastic Afropolitan singer who was born in Glasgow, is now based in London, was raised by a Brazilian-Yoruba Father and Igbo mother has. “Music has always been at the core of my life, slowly making its way to the surface. The soundtrack of my perception is quite eclectic…. Afrocentric creativity is my philosophy on art and music. A realm in which nothing is ever wasted,” Bumi says.

You really should enter that realm…

3. M3NSA

2010 MOBO nominee M3NSA makes me smile just writing about his music. His upbeat sound remains positive even when the topics get deep. For example, check out his new video ‘No one knows’ , a cover on Asa’s famous song.
Even before he was listed as one of MsAfropolitan’s 7 african artists to watch, M3NSA was listed as one of Ghana’s top 50 people to watch 😉 Born in Ghana and raised in London M3NSA says, “I talk about going back to pick up from where I left things, and where everything started. It’s about acknowledging exactly where I come from and bringing all those experiences with me. With snatches of Twi and Pidgen, the clever rhyme schemes and narratives are what make the sound universally relatable. You don’t have to be into African Hip-hop to listen to the album, you just have to be into music.

Of course you’re into music!


Influenced by a rich multicultural upbringing, it is by this rare artistic sensibility of mixing his Yoruba/African roots and western modernism that the Nigerian singer, songwriter and composer KUKU distinguishes himself. One of my favourite tracks of his is Polongo (gossip in Yoruba) on London collective Broadcite and TRoy’s Bushmeat album as featured in ARISE magazine. His album ‘Soldier of Peace’ is a beautiful effort to bridge the gap between his African roots and the western world, blending Yoruba, English and Pidgin English lyricism, percussive guitar progression, infectious Udu drum rhythms, topped with South African Township guitar inflections. “The music embraces you, caresses you and has the sustaining quality of a good but simple meal.”

Indeed, yummy.

5. Andy Allo

Andy Allo is a Cameroonian born and raised singer-songwriter. In the midst of a landslide of uninspiring and simple lyrics, and an industry of spiritless and senseless content, Allo serves up a refreshing and serene haven of conscious musical poetry. Allo’s formula is also simple. With only a guitar that she delicately strums, her soft sultry vocals and a dab of humor, Allo has created her own genre of music that she affectionately calls Alter.Hip.Soul- a mix of alternative, hip hop and soul.

Her sophomore album, which will be a personal rendition of her life reflects honest accounts of a young woman navigating the music world. With only her guitar and a rich subtle voice she is set to captivate the hearts and ears of those who appreciate music for the soul.
6. Teni
Last month in Lagos, I saw an ad for an afrocentric centre called House of Makeda, which I then visited. House of Makeda is truly an oasis in the heart of Lagos. The space which is entered through a jungle-like pathway consists of a cafe, a fashion boutique and a live performance space. I spoke with Teni, not knowing that she was a singer as well as a fashion designer, and furthermore a singer who had contacted me some months earlier! Going through my messages this week, I was excited to link my cherished Lagos experience at House of Makeda with the afrobeat sounds in these clips. Teni is s British born afro-jazz singer and composer who leads a ten piece band the Afro-Renaissance. She has collaborated with the legendary master drummer Tony Allen and also appears from time to time with the Egypt 80, Fela Kutis’ original band.

Who are your favourite Afropolitan artists that the world should know about?
  • http://www.sheroxlox.tumblr.com sheroxlox

    I would add Meklit Hadero to the list and Pepe Oleka :)

  • Dale Averill

    Naia Kete should be added. Mellow, good energy with a spark

  • POTO

    Very pleased with your selection of upcoming Afropolitan artist. Soothing mix.

  • POTO

    Hey, if we could add one can we include Dee One too? I think he adds a bit of an Afro-Hip Hop twist with his song – Its My Turn 😉 Kind of makes the cut.

  • http://54interviews.wordpress.com 54interviews

    Loving Kuku’s voice!!! Thanks for expanding my musical palette.

  • Butterflies

    Loving your selection!
    Ms EmilyKay is a good new artist! Also semi-acoustic. Kinda Macy Gray, Erykah Badu but english/jamaican! New unique sound!

  • http://www.detm.com.ng AFRICASE

    The new artist called Casey should be up there! You would really love his sound which is new & unique. Its a new sound called ‘Africase’. He’s new and he’s got an album called ‘Parisian Blues ‘ on itunes,amazon etc ! He’s like a Bob Marley,Jimmy Cliff ,John Legend .He’s signed to La Cave Musik record label based in Paris but he’s a Nigerian. Here’s a link to his video he shot in paris recently https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z4dOPBltWM&feature=youtube_gdata_player. Here’s also a link to another single of his called ‘Oritsejolomi’ http://m.notjustok.com/2012/06/15/casey-ed-glo-naija-sings-2010-winner-oritsejolomi/. And his interview on Dstv http://mobi.dstv.com/news/casey-sings-the-parisian-blues/61304.