7 African songs to appear on Spotify's Top 100 greatest R&B list


In recent years, African music has experienced a significant transformation in its identity. Across the continent, a rich diversity of musical genres thrives, including Afrobeat, Highlife, Juju, jive, Kwassa-kwassa, afro-fusion, afro talk, Hip-hop, and numerous more. Artists are increasingly diverging from traditional genre boundaries, embracing a fluid and eclectic approach to their craft. Musical figures like Wizkid, Joeboy, and Burna Boy have classified their sounds. In an interview, Joeboy said, "But sometimes I could make Pop music or R&B. I feel like sometimes it's not fair for me to make R&B and somebody should say 'Oh its afrobeat'. But I feel like music is so dynamic that you can't just box it into one spot". If foreign artists can have various genres of music under their discography, why can't Africans?

Streaming giant Spotify released its first-ever The 100 Greatest R&B Songs of the Streaming Era. According to the streaming service, the streaming era began in 2015 till date. The songs were chosen based on quality, impact, replay value, influence, and cultural significance. Here are all seven African songs classified by Spotify as R&B:

1. Essence-Wizkid ft Tems

Ranked at No. 21, the standout track of 2020 was Essence, marking a historic milestone as the first Nigerian song to grace the Billboard Hot 100 and Global 200 charts. Widely hailed by celebrities and industry experts alike, it's credited with introducing Afrobeat to a global audience.

Essence comes off Wizkid’s Made in Lagos album. The album features H.E.R., Burna Boy, Skepta, Ella Mai, Tay Iwar, Projexx, Tems, Damian Marley, and Terri. The song's popularity soared even higher with the release of a remix featuring Justin Bieber in 2021, which cemented it as a cultural phenmenon. Essence currently has 230 million streams on Spotify. The melodic and soulful song was nominated for numerous awards including Best Global Music Performance at the 64th Grammy Award

2. Free Mind- Tems

Nigerian singer and songwriter Tems has been riding a wave of success since her debut in the music industry, despite not yet releasing her first album. Her remarkable achievements without a debut album serve as a case study in themselves. One of her standout tracks, Free Mind, captured fans' attention in 2022, featured on her 2020 EP For Broken Ears.

Free Mind ranked at No. 29 on the Spotify Greatest R&B song of the streaming Era. It spent 17 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-hop airplay charts. Tems broke this record which was originally held by Ella Mai. Her velvety and smooth vocals on "Free Mind" have a captivating effect on listeners, drawing them in with each note.

3. Higher- Tems

Positioned at No. 45, Higher by Tems has propelled the Nigerian talent's distinctive vocals to global recognition. The grammy award winner has announced that her debut album will be released in 2024.

4. Water-Tyla

Grammy award-winning track Water by south african artist Tyla ranked at No. 60. Similar to Tems, Tyla kickstarted her career with singles that swiftly garnered international acclaim. Water won the inaugural Best African Music Performance at the Grammy awards. The seductive dance moves complement the songs sensual R&B vibes. Tyla's sultry melody and viral choreography evoke a profound sense of passion among listeners.

The smash hit climbed to No 1 on Billboards Hot R&B songs chart. Her remix of Water featuring Travis Scott gained three million views on Youtube three days after its release. Her hit song is on its way to cross a billion streams as it currently seats at 534 million streams. After the commercial succuess of Water, Tyla released her debut album named after her. The album immediately landed on Billboards World album charts.

5. Call Me Everyday- Chris Brown ft Wizkid

Call Me Everyday marks Wizkid and Chris Brown's third collaboration. Wizkid added his versatility and laid back grooves to the R&B track. Landing at the 71st position, the song showcases their seamless synergy. Wizkid recently revealed the completion of his sixth studio album, dedicated to his mother, along with an announcement of transitioning away from Afrobeat. Call Me Everyday has amassed an impressive 117 million streams and earned a certified gold status.

6. Ku Lo Sa- Oxlade

Rankd at No 88 on Spotify's greates R&B songs of the streaming Era, the "A Colors Show” version of Oxlade’s KU LO SA has over 81 million views on YouTube. This hit track achieved global recognition when it went viral on TikTok, with users enthusiastically recreating Oxlade's moves to the catchy tune during his Colors show performance. According to the artist in his interview with Okay Africa the artist expressed his perplexity, stating that he doesn't fully grasp why people are drawn to the song or what makes it so special. Nevertheless, KU LO SA has amassed over 18 million streams on Spotify, solidifying its status as a fan favorite.

7. People- Libianca

Cameroonian-American singer Libianca also made the list with her hit single 'People' coming in at NO. 99 with over 599 million streams.