The 40 Best Afropop Songs of 2023


year in music

Top songs with African ingenuity from acts like Burna Boy, Bien, Libianca, and beyond

As our new digital homelands power global connectivity, the world has shrunk, and Afropop’s fandom has grown. Young powerhouses like Tyla, Amaarae, and Libianca set new trends at the head of a class of bold artists remaking African music in their image. Rolling Stone’s second-ever list of the year’s best Afropop songs features quite a few musicians who are freshly forging their paths in the industry, interspersed with incredible offerings from tenured stars like Davido, Burna Boy, and Tiwa Savage. Our panel of critics represent five African countries and took care to recognize different regions of a vast continent of unique but interconnected cultures. As genre lines blur everywhere, we thought of Afropop as a catch-all for music by artists who primarily live on or work for the continent, making hits that define scenes and communities there and in its diaspora. We considered songs with musical elements distinct to African traditions, too, from language (like East African Swahili or West African pidgin) to production (like the log drum programming popularized by South African amapiano, or the distinct guitar in many Congolese standards). This is a celebration of African genius, creativity, and spirit.

We’ve included a playlist of our picks for this year’s 40 Best Afropop Songs so you can enjoy all this great music, too.

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