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Ones To Watch: 20 Artists to look out for in 2023

2 years ago, in 2021, prospects were gearing up to make an impact last year, and boy, they did come through. From Black Sherif’s global impact to Asake’s Fuji-inflected records, the newcomers saw us through one of the most exciting years for music.

Every new year opens a portal where new artists form their way into the industry. The only difference this time is that the world has opened its ears to new sounds, allowing more acts to flourish. Each year presents us with a new cohort of artists that stand out to us and present great potential in the industry regarding their craft. The next generation of artists to look out for in 2023 are bold, dynamic, and unafraid to test the boundaries and change the narrative.

Be it in lyricism, genre-bending, performance, creative direction, or vocal prowess. Each artist represents a teaser into the renaissance of the music and culture we are experiencing on the continent and across the diaspora.

iMullar’s list highlights some of the artists next in line to take the baton and race their way to greatness. We are excited to see the great leaps these artists will make in the coming year, considering their huge efforts to lay down the foundation for their potential success in the near future. We present to you, iMullar’s ones to watch 2023:

1. Dami Oniru

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Genre: R&B and R&B Soul

From: Nigeria (born in Atlanta)

Why you’re going to love her: She navigates music, fashion, and tech careers in an effort to set standards for herself.  Her merging of R&B, soul, afro, and trap influences is a refreshing sound that very few can pull off. Her knack for storytelling as well has the capacity to transport listeners into an emotional landscape that they may never have had experience with.

Key track: Soft Life

Key moments: She opened for Johnny Drille during his Johnny’s Room Live. She performed her single, “Runnin”, on GRAMMY.COM’s digital series – Global Spin and was elected as Spotify Africa’s Fresh Finds artist for November 2022. She has also worked with some Nigerian influential artists such as Odunsi, WurID, and Remy Baggins. Her song, “Soft Life” from the “Matter of Time” EP has over 128,000 streams on Spotify and 83,000 views on YouTube.

2. Tim Lyre

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Genre: Genre-bending afro-fusion

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love him: He is the epitome of thinking out of the box. His ability to genre-bend knows no bounds and every song he creates provides an exciting listening experience.

Key track: Hubris and Present (Worry Less Album)

Key moments: He was invited to be a part of the Ejoya Class of ‘22, partnered and supported by DefJam records.  Created a collaborative album together with rising artists across the continent. He released his album “Worry” which received critical acclaim and gained over 2 Million streams worldwide. His discography garnered a total of 1.2M streams on Spotify alone and has received features and interviews on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra, and Leading Vibe Radio with Tems.

3. Winny

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Genre: Blend of Reggae, R&B/Soul, and Afro music

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love her: Despite only having one single out, Winny is an earnest and passionate storyteller who has the ability to project her message into the hearts of listeners.

Key track: Pretty

Key moment: Performed at ArtxLive 2022 alongside acts such as Obongjayar and DBN GOGO.

4. YKB

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Genre: Afrobeat, Afropop, RnB, Trap, Hip-hop

From: Nigeria

Why we’re fans: He reminds us of Joeboy.

Why you’re going to love him: YKB has proven to be a lyrical genius with his beautifully crafted wordplay and catchy hooks.

Key track: San Siro

Key moment: In 2020, he wrote an open letter to Wande Coal expressing his gratitude to him, for the role his music has played in his life. This post went viral and brought him to the limelight of many music enthusiasts.

5. D Jay

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Genre: Afrobeat

From: Ghana

Why you’re going to love them: He’s one of the promising talents to come from Ghana to the international stage. He has the appeal, style, and voice to push his career further to higher heights.

Key track: Balance It

Key moments: His song, “Balance It’, was released this year with critical acclaim. The song, at a point in 2022, was the most shazamed song in Ghana. He also made a remix that featured Mr. Eazi. He also performed at Glitch Africa Session and has a song feature with Kidi.

6. Tyla

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Genre: Amapiano, pop, Rnb

From: South Africa

Why you’re going to love her: Tyla’s smooth vocals over catchy beats create an infectious tune that is hard to forget. Her ability to navigate social media and create content that perfectly encapsulates her music makes her a powerful force.

Key track: Getting Late

Key moments: She performed at Afrochella in 2021 along with Ayra Starr. She also has a growing fanbase on TikTok (1.6 million followers). Her song, “Getting Late” has over 5.6 million views on youtube.

7. Lojay

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Genre: Afrobeats and Afropop

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love him: Lojay is a fantastic vocalist with melodies that are rivaled by very few on the continent.

Key Tracks: Monalisa, LV & ATTN, and LEADER!

Key moments: Got Chris Brown on his remix of “Monalisa”. Performed several major international shows in the US, Amsterdam, Malta, and the UK, including the Wireless festival. Featured on songs with Ayra Starr, Blaqbonez, and Show Dem Camp.

8. Xenia Manasseh

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Genre: Neosoul and R&B

From: Kenya

Why you’re going to love her: Poses a powerful voice and incredible songwriting skills that can blow your mind away.

Key track: Love Me or Leave Me

Key moments: Performed at SOLFest alongside Sauti Sol, Nviiri the Storyteller, and Bensoul Music. Featured as one of the stories on Guinness Kenya’s Black Shines Brightest campaign. She was featured on Apple Music for R&B and soul music (Soul September) where she curated a playlist with music by some of her favorite R&B/Soul artists. Participated in the Youtube Music x SheistheMusic music writing camp which included Tems and Gyakie.

9. Bloody Civilian

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Genre: Not Genre Based.

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love him: She presents an unconventional style of afro-fusion which gives off a variety of moods. Her music involves storytelling which can be observed in her authentic and poetic lyricism.

Key track: How to kill a man

Key moments: She was featured on the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Soundtrack Album(“Wake up” ft Rema). She also got featured on the Native Sound System album, Native World, alongside artists like Boj, Odunsi the Engine, The Cavemen, and Teezee.

10. Kemuel

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Genre: Afrobeats

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love him: He has a distinctive soothing voice that is perfect for low-tempo afrobeat.

Key track; Champagne girl

Key moments: He released an EP, “Escape”, this year. He also surpassed 100k all-time plays on apple music.

11. Kaestyle

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Genre: Rnb

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love him: Kaestyle’s style of singing can be surmised to be a smooth and parallel yet powerfully addictive vocal that sends his listeners on a ride through a 3D experience and get them wanting for more.

Key tracks: True love, moving bad & Blessings

Key moments: His song, “True Love”, released this year has accumulated over 450k streams on Spotify and 170k views on YouTube. He also performed it on the Glitch Africa session. He also made a remix to the song featuring Victony.

12. Somadina

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Genre: Experiments with various genres and sounds such as afro-rock, alte, and afrobeats.

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love her: Somadina is fearless when it comes to music exploration. She marches to the beat of her own drum and doesn’t follow the unwritten industry guidelines as to how afro artists should progress in their careers.

Key track: Rolling Loud

Key moments: Her first solo EP, “Heart of the Heavenly Undeniable”, came out this year and has already received support from artists and producers such as Santi, Sirbastien, and Telz. It features The Cavemen, Lola and Chi Virgo. She was also featured in a Vogue article as one of the artists set to rule 2022

13. Herman Suede

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Genre: Afrofusion

From: Ghana

Why you’re going to love him: Herman Suede has incredible versatility, from hard rap verses to catchy club bangers, he is open to evolving with his age and style, and it can only go up from here.

Key track: Naa Kwarley & Kumbaya

Key moments: He was one of the youngest Ghanaian artists to open at an all-Ghanaians concert at the Palladium Times Square in New York for their It’s About Time Concert.  A year of him meeting and working with top producers and artists such as Will I Am. He was invited to perform at Kizz Daniel’s concert in December and was recognized by Jae5 for a freestyle he did on one of his open beats. He released Kumbaya- a hot Amapiano track that is sure to be a December hit. Dropped two music videos this year. 2022 has been a year for him to alter and mature his sound to be more appealing to older audiences.

14. Baaba J

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Genre: Traces of pop, soul, and alte sound.

From: Ghana

Why you’re going to love her: Baaba J is one of the most relatable young artists in Ghana. Her lyrics speak both deep and simple truths that touch her listeners and connect them with the messages she infuses in her beautiful melodies.

Key tracks: Tomboy, Lovin’ 21, and Outside

Key moments: Her latest single, “Outside” made a lot of waves and received massive airplay. She was featured on Apple Music, Spotify, and Boomplay editorial playlists all year long. She also performed M.anifest’s concert, “Manifestivities” this December.

15. Kofee Bean

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Genre: Neosoul

From: Ghana

Why you’re going to love her: She breathes her soul through her music with her soothing vocals that are reminiscent of r&B and soul greats.

Key track: Breathing

Key moments: A snippet of her original song, “Breathing” went viral on social media which later led her to release the song on streaming platforms. She was elected as Spotify Africa’s Fresh Finds artist for April 2022.

16. Young Jonn

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Genre: Afropop

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love him: Young Jonn clearly has a natural penchant for music making. Starting off as a producing and finding success in that did not stop him from diverting into becoming a recording artist and killing it in that lane as well. His ability to create captivating melodies that are topping the charts in Nigeria and beyond.

Key tracks: Dada and Xtra Cool

Key moments: He topped the Nigerian Apple Music Hot 100 Chart with the remix of his single, “Dada” featuring Davido. He also topped the charts again with another single, Xtra Cool. He also performed with Davido at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai earlier this year. He released two EPS, Love is Not Enough Vol I and II, which garnered millions in streams across all platforms.

17.  Midi Kwakwa

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Genre: Neo Soul\ Alternative RnB

From: Ghana

Why you’re going to love her: She mixes soul music mixed with influences from RnB, Reggae, HipHop, Afrobeats, Indie music, and alternative music. She loves to experiment and tends to put hidden messages in her songs. If you listen closely to her music, you’ll hear “Peace and Love”. This is to bring positivity to her listeners.

Key Track: Things Fall In Place and Body

Key Moments: Her song “Body” has gained over 513,000 all-time streams on Spotify. She headlined her show in Rotterdam in late 2021.

18. Odumodublvck

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Genre: Hip-hop, Drill

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love him: He charts his own path, going a step ahead to self-define his genre of music as Okporoko Rhythms; a hip-hop fusion inspired by UK grime, progressive r&B, and Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat.

Key Track: Dog eat Dog

Key Moments: He won the Next Rated Artist award at the Galaxy Music Awards in Nigeria. He premiered the music video for his latest hit single, “Picanto”, at a sold-out Silverbird Cinema screening in Abuja. He also performed in several shows alongside Fireboy DML, Tiwa Savage, Vict0ny, Teni, etc.

19. Ugoccie

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Genre: Afrobeats

From: Nigeria

Why you’re going to love her: Ugoccie is a beautiful storyteller that delivers relatable songs to her audience.

Key Track: Breakfast Ft Phyno

Key Moments: She was nominated for Rookie of the year at the 2022 Headies Awards alongside Fave, Magixx, and AVA. She has also released singles with Phyno and Niniola.

20. Kay-T

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Genre: Hip-hop/rap

From: Ghana

Why you’re going to love him: Kay T raps with a playful confidence that lights up every track he appears on. His incorporation of melodies and adlibs with his delivery of lines elevates his songs and makes them a joy to listen to.

Key Track: Yenda

Key Moments: His lead single, “Yenda”, released this September features Medikal and QV AND has garnered over 300, 000 plays across all platforms. ii. He has appeared in and won several freestyle battles on lyrical wars.

Check out the playlist on Apple Music here