July 2015 theme: Popular music

Popular music is arguably what drives today’s modern music industry, at least from a commercial point of view. Here one finds talented young artists who are at the forefront of creative innovation, drawing influences from older pop acts as well as traditional and international sounds to forge the latest sounds aimed at a mass audience. Studying the pop music scenes of various African countries goes a long way in reaching an understanding of what type of sounds are most loved and most marketable in these countries – and to find the similarities and trends in African pop music in general. For this reason we have chosen Popular Music as our theme for the month of July.

Yemi Alade (Nigeria) & Diamond (Tanzania) performing on Coke Studio Africa. Photo: cybertechz.com
Yemi Alade (Nigeria) & Diamond (Tanzania) performing on Coke Studio Africa. Photo: cybertechz.com

We have commissioned and published numerous overview texts that provide valuable insight into popular music in various countries throughout the continent, including: Namibia, Gambia, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, DR Congo and Ivory Coast. These texts give a broad overview of some of the key popular genres in the countries in question, and give some background to the news, reviews and features in our Magazine section. Many similar overview texts from other African contries are being commissioned and translated as Music In Africa grows to cover the whole continent.

While some genres cross borders and can be found throughout the continent, such as hip-hop, reggae and gospel, other pop genres are closely associated with a particular region or country, such as Hiplife in Ghana, Makossa in Cameroon, and Coupé-Décalé and Zouglou in Ivory Coast. Together these various genres can provide an idea of what’s hottest on Africa’s dancefloors, radio charts, online platforms and home stereos – and a glimpse at future trends on the continent as African music continues to make inroads all over the world.


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