Five Kenyan musicians are among the artists named in Rolling Stone’s Top 40 Afropop songs of 2023. 

They include Sabi Wu, Bien, rappers Wakadinali, Octopizzo and Nviiri the storyteller who appear alongside artists from Nigeria, Ghana, Congo and South Africa.

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The list is intended to highlight musicians on the African continent who are charting their own path and to celebrate African genius, creativity, and spirit.

To include the different regions of the continent the list 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)”.

Making it to No. 8 on the list is Sabi Wu who with the song “Mi Na Wewe”. What propels the song to the top 10 is because the “song completely embodies the young, Kenyan experience, mixing elements of new Nairobi hip-hop and East Coast rap with the finesse of a much more seasoned artist with a well-executed sample of 2003’s “Ninanoki,” by Nameless and featuring Amani.

Bien makes it to No. 20 with new song “Ma Cherie”. The songs has been praised for being effortlessly sexy, and presented from a new perspective over the song’s modern treatment of quintessential Lingala sounds.

As one of Kenya’s most-streamed hip-hop bands on Spotify, it comes as no surprise that Wakadinali make the list. Named at No.30 for their song “Sikutambui”  praised for its heavy bass and cheeky lyrics which made the track a fast fan favourite and a popular sound on TikTok in Kenya.

Rapper Octopizzo comes closely behind at No. 31 with “Wapi Compe” singled out as “his most experimental track yet”. The track makes an impression because of his round and deep vocal quality, paired with his playfully boastful lyrics (“wapi compe” loosely translates to “where’s the competition”) and whimsical beat, make it compelling and addictive. 

Nviiri is named at No. 34 for his song “Nikilewa” which blends Afropop, soul, and R&B and puts the singer’s vocal and composing talents on full display. 

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