The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (2024)

In the ever-evolving landscape of global music, the term "afrobeats" has not only become a coined genre but has also firmly entrenched itself in the hearts of music enthusiasts worldwide.

African artists, particularly those hailing from Nigeria, are continuously channelling their creativity within the Afrobeats framework, yielding an unprecedented surge in artistic brilliance, sonic excellence, lyrical prowess, captivating performances, and, notably, a global resonance. As we bid adieu to the musical journey that was 2023, let's celebrate and acknowledge the prowess of 20 extraordinary artists who have significantly shaped and elevated the Afrobeats scene.

It's no longer news that the "afrobeats to the word" ship has already sailed and stopped over at different destinations across the globe, recruiting new members and winning new souls aboard. Just like the previous year, heavyweights like Burna Boy have headlined shows and sold out arenas and stadiums in places like the Netherlands, New York, Sweden, Paris, Dallas, Miami, Portugal, London, Denmark, Montreal, and a host of other places. Rema had a two-day concert in India and has equally been on the road, touching down in different cities. Afrobeats acts like Davido, Asake, Adekunle Gold, Ayra Starr, Omah Lay, BNXN, and numerous others also had (and still are on) their world tours, selling out unbelievable capacities.

Afrobeats remarkably made a bold statement in global sports, with Burna Boy headlining the NBA all-star weekend in Utah as well as performing at the UEFA Champions League final kick-off show in Istanbul. Heavyweight Afrobeats singer Davido also performed at the closing ceremony of the FIFA World Cup in December 2022. Afrobetas prince Rema gave a surprise performance at the Ballon d'Or in Paris, making him the first African act to grace the stage, capping his year by selling out the prestigious 02-Arena weeks later.

In a year where Afrobeats acts dominated the scene on a global level, ushering in a lot of international recognition and deals, this crop of ambassadors also showed up at the Grammy Awards, with the likes of Burna Boy, Davido, Asake, Ayra Starr, Olamide, and Tems all bagging different nominations, including multiple nominations by Burna Boy and Davido. The 2023 calendar for Afrobeats was an upgrade all around. Below are the 20 best Afrobeats artists for the year 2023:

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20. Olamide

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (6)

Country - Nigeria

Label - YBNL/EMPIRE

Top Songs: Jinja, Gaza and New Religion

The ace rapper, even though more focused on the business of things as the CEO of powerhouse YBNL, which is home to heavyweights Asake and Fireboy DML, was still able to whip out his tenth studio album titled Unruly alongside impressive collaborations like Kpe Paso with Wande Coal, Currency with Young Jonn, and the monster hit Amapiano with Asake, which earned the rapper his first Grammy nomination, making him the first Nigerian rapper to be graced with such a feat.

19. Blaqbonez

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (7)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Chocolate City Music

Top Songs: Like Ice Spice, Nyem Ego, and Bezos

Kicking off the year by selling out his annual headline concert, the rapper, singer, and songwriter was able to garner over 3000 people at the Lagos event. The 2023 Headies rap album of the year winner, whose verse on Ckay's smash tune Hallelujah is arguably the best verse for the year, also gave a decent appearance on Minz's viral tune WOWO. The Chocolate City star recently dropped his sixth studio album, Emeka Must Shine, another quality project that graced the Afrobeats scene.

18. Crayon

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (8)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Mavin Records

Top Songs: Ngozi & Trench Kid

Definitely a highlight of the year, 2023 saw him live up to the expectations and potential he has always shown. Arguably his best year as a music artist, the Mavin Records star followed up the momentum of his 2022-released smash tune Laba Laba with an impressive album Trench to Triumph, which has the fans's delight Ngozi featuring label-mate Ayra Starr. Crayon's performance on Sarz's Yo Fam is also a highlight of the Afrobeats scene; he unlocked a nostalgic part of Afrobeats poster-boy Wizkid, which many have not seen in a while. It was a decent year for the Mavin star, no doubt.

17. Wizkid

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (9)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Starboy Ent/ RCA Records

Top Songs: Bad to Me

Though the Star Boy Entertainment frontline act didn't independently release any music in 2023, he appeared in three features, including Don Toliver's soul-soothing tune Slow Motion, DJ Spinall's Loju & DJ Tunez's Blessings. Despite a quiet year for the pop star as regards music, the singer still performed across different cities in the world, including headlining a concert at the iconic 62,000-capacity Tottenham Stadium in London.

16. Young Jonn

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (10)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Chocolate city music

Top Songs: Sharpally, Aquafina, & Currency

The producer-cum-artiste who fully switched lanes in 2022 with his Love is Not Enough EP has not matched the breaks since then, with a rich catalogue of over five hits in a year. The singer also took the music around the globe, headlining shows in countries like Belgium, Poland, Budapest, and Cyprus. His performance on features like Tiwa Savage's Stamina and King Promise's Terminator Remix was also impressive.

15. Seyi Vibez

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (11)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Vibez Inc / Dvpper Music

Top Songs: Man of the year, Karma, Dejavu & Hattrick

Evidently one of the loudest voices in the streets, the 23-year-old had an insane run in 2022, and the heat was on till the latter part of 2023. In an interesting turn of events, as of mid-year, the hardworking Seyi had already dropped a staggering three projects! His EP Memory Card and two albums, Vibe Till Thy Kingdom Come and Thy Kingdom Come, The 2023 Headies Award Best Street-Hop Artist crowned his run with a sold-out headline show at the prestigious O2 Indigo, as well as hitting a billion streams on Audiomack. The singer's performance on BNXN's smash tune Gwagwalada as well as on Burna Boy's Giza, off the Grammy-nominated album I Told Them, was equally impressive.

14. Ruger

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (12)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Jonzing World Entertainment Limited

Top Songs: Asiwaju and Tour

The Jonzing World frontline artist was on the road for the majority of the year, and he indeed has been having fun. Thrilling fans in more than twenty cities in countries like the US, Canada, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Suriname, and more The singer also dropped his debut album Ru to the World with smash tunes like Asiwaju (the third most streamed song on Apple Music for 2023) cutting. His performance as a guest on Sarkodie's Till We Die and DJ Neptune'sBien venue added colour to the output from the Afrobeats scene.

13. Victony

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (13)

Country - Nigeria

Label - VICTONY/KVLT

Top Songs: Soweto, Jaga Jaga, My Darling, and Ohema

After headlining his first-ever show in 2022, Victony started 2023 slower than others, as he had to take a two-month break to fully recover from the ghastly motor accident he had in 2021, which left him in a wheelchair. However, the ace singer, rapper, and songwriter kicked off his year with an interesting Soweto remix that features Don Toliver and Rema. Fans' favourites like Jaga Jaga, My Darling, and the latest Ohema, which featured 14 Nigerian artists, ensured Victory remained properly positioned in the Afrobeats scene. The singer also performed in countries like Portugal and Canada.

12. Kizz Daniel

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (14)

Country - Nigeria

Label - FlyBoy INC / EMPIRE

Top Songs: Cough (Odo), My G and RTID

Certainly, 2023 was an exhilarating year for Kizz Daniel, to be frank. It all kicked off with the release of RTID on January 5, 2023, serving as a delightful New Year gift. The momentum carried on as he teamed up with Becky G for the remix of Cough and later dropped the impressive Maverick album, once again highlighting his extraordinary talent. Notably, his track Buga (Lo Lo) clinched the coveted Song of the Year award at the Soundcity MVP Awards in February.

Adding to his list of accomplishments, Kizz Daniel introduced an internet sensation with My G, a track that sparked a creative frenzy among content creators, inspiring them to produce engaging content featuring the catchy sound.

11. Shallipopi

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (15)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Plutomania Records / Dapper Music & Entertainment

Top Songs: Elon Musk, Cast, Oscroh, Things on Things, Ex-convict, and Oba-pluto

Without an inch of doubt, one of the hottest acts to grace the scene in 2023, the Benin-raised rapper got into the limelight with hisElon Musk tune this year and hasn't looked back since then. Shallipopi, in the months since his breakout, has released two projects and can firmly boast of more than five hit tunes. The Afrobeats star, who recently set up his record label, has taken the gospel to other countries like Russia, Italy, Belgium, and more.

10. Tiwa Savage

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (16)

Country - Nigeria

Label - We4we/ Everything Savage

Top Songs: Stamina & Pick Up

The Afrobeats Queen has had a good year; apart from successfully touring ten cities in the US, Mama Jam Jam has performed in other cities like Nairobi, Toronto, Montreal, and a slew of others, a major highlight being her iconic performance at the coronation concert in honour of King Charles III of the United Kingdom. Her performance as a guest on Spryo's Who's Your Guy remix and Bella Shmurda's NSV is commendable.

9. BNXN

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (17)

Country - Nigeria

Label - T.Y.E. / EMPIRE

Top Songs: Pidgin & English, Gwagwalada, & Pray

The Burna Boy protegee, who has been operating under an independent label for a while, is no doubt one of the best qualities the Afrobeats scene can boast of. Honing his songwriting skills to a fault, BNXN this year has upgraded his performing skills, which makes his concerts an interesting experience. Kicking off the year with his smash tune Gwagwalada, which is the second most streamed song in Nigeria for 2023, BNXN went on to deliver his debut album Sincerely, Benson, a well-crafted project that expresses his soulfulness as an artist. Since the album, BNXN has been on the road, from Brussels to Toronto, Dallas, Winnipeg, Calgary, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and more. His performance on features like Stefflon Don'sWhat's Popping, Qing Madi's Ole, and Minz's Wowo remix further showed how talented BNXN is; he is definitely a shining Afrobeats star!

8. Odumodublvk

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (18)

Country - Nigeria

Label - NATIVE Records/ Def Jam Recordings

Top Songs: Declan Rice, Dog eat Dog, & Blood on the dance floor

The Abuja-born rapper has had a splendid year, hands down the most featured artist in Nigeria for the year. Odumodu's supreme reign peaked after he released the smash tune Declan Rice, which was co-signed by English club Arsenal. The 2023 Headies rookie of the year also released his first project under his new imprint, native records titled Eziokwu, which might be in the album of the year discussion. Joining international music imprint Def Jam also added to Big Kala's movement on an international level. The rapper has scored several "number ones" this year across different platforms with different songs and also his album. His performances as a guest on Falz's Ndi Ike, Adekunle Gold's Wrong Person, and the controversial Cast by Shallipopi were all spot-on.

7. Omah Lay

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (19)

Country - Nigeria

Label - KeyQaad

Top Songs: Holy Ghost, Soso & Reason

The singer, songwriter, and producer is one of the brightest stars in the Afrobeats scene; his 2022 album Boy Alonegave the world Soso, a tune that has become an internationally accepted smash tune. Omah dropped the deluxe version of the album this year, and it had gems like Reason. Like other Afrobeats heavyweights, the soul singer has been on the road, performing in countries like France, Zimbabwe, Germany, Brussels, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and many others.

6. Adekunle Gold

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (20)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Def Jam Recordings

Top Songs: Party No Dey Stop, Ogaranya & Look what you made me do

The Afro-fusion after signing for Def Jam kicked off the year with a club banger Party no dey Stop, one of the biggest afrobeats records this year. Propelling his music career with eye-catching branding revolved around fashion, AG Baby fully evolved to become the "rock star" he envisioned for himself in 2023. Known as one of the best performers the continent boasts off, AG this year took to the gospel around the world selling out shows in cities like Minneapolis, Denver, and Vegas, LA, Vancouver, and more. The father of one also released an album of the year contender project, collaborating with heavyweights like Pharell, Habib Koite, and others on the project Tequila Ever After.

5. Ayra Starr

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (21)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Mavin Records

Top Songs: Rhythm & Blues, Sability & Rush

The Mavin Princess is undoubtedly the best and hottest female afrobeats artist this year. Away from global certifications, the 21-year-old has been on the road touring the world: Dublin, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, Brussels, Frankfurt, Paris, Rotterdam, Madrid, Helsinki, Barbados, and a lot more. In 2023, the celestial being also bagged an MTV EMA nomination as well as a Grammy nomination! The 2023 Headies best female artist reached one billion streams for her song Rush, collaborated with international fashion brand Jordan, and was part of the artists that contributed to the soundtrack of the blockbuster movie Creed III. It's been an interesting year for Ayraa, no doubt.

4. Davido

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (22)

Country - Nigeria

Label - DMW

Top Songs: Unavailable, Feel & Kante

After taking a brief break due to an unfortunate incident in 2022, the Afrobeats star came back with the perfect album, Timeless to continue his journey. Also an "album of the year" material, Monster Jams like Unavailable and Feel were the poster songs for Afrobeats this year. Deservingly, Davido bagged a whopping three nominations at the 2024 Grammys, after which he went on to sell out the 21,000-capacity state farm arena in Atlanta for his AWAY festival. In 2023, the singer also achieved a milestone of one billion streams on Apple Music.

3. Asake

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (23)

Country - Nigeria

Label - YBNL/EMPIRE

Top Songs: Lonely at the top, 2:30, Amapiano, & Basquiat, Yoga

Blazing hot since his Ololade EP in 2022, Asake has challenged every status quo there is for him, and his 2023 career year was as hot as his 2022 insane run. Delivering his sophom*ore album, which had several gems on it, proved his quality as an artist. Off the album, his soothing single Lonely at the Top became the first and only song to ever bag 100 million on Audiomack. Away from the numerous performances across the world, the 2023 Headies Award next-rated winner proved dominance by selling out the prestigious 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in London and the 19,000-capacity Barclays Centre in New York.

2. Burna Boy

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (24)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Spaceship / Atlantic Records

Top Songs: City Boys, Sitting on top of the world, Big 7, & Giza

Solidly maintaining his position in the "top three" afrobeats acts since 2018, the Grammy-award-winning superstar needs no introduction or doubt about his capabilities as an artist delivery, pen-game, and performance show; he is an all-rounder. The Grammy-award-winning artist, who was on the road for most of 2022, selling out iconic venues likeMadison Square Garden and State Farm Arena, continued his voyage in 2023. This year, he has sold out 40,000-capacity Paris La Defence in Paris, 80,000-capacity London Stadium in the UK, 34,000-capacity Gelredone Arnhem in the Netherlands, and 41,800-capacity Citi Field in New York, amidst several iconic stadiums and arenas. His album I Told You is also an album of the year contender, with smash tunes like City Boys and Siting on top of the world. After bagging seven nominations at the 2023 BET Awards, he went on to also bag four staggering nominations at the 2024 Grammys. Burna Boy is definitely him, and there is no question about that.

1. Rema

The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (25)

Country - Nigeria

Label - Mavin Records/ Jonzing World Entertainment

Top Songs - Calm Down, Charm & DND.

The Prince of Afrobeats, who took the throne this year, has had a crazy year. Although released in 2022, the Calm Down remix ft. Selena Gomez extended till this year and has gone on to become one of the biggest Afrobeats songs in 2023. Aside from being the first Afrobeats song to garner a billion streams, the song also spent 57 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 3, making it a record for African music. The 2023 Headies Award Best Male Artist and African Artist of the Year also bagged three MTV EMA nominations, winning one out of the categories. Like most Afrobeats acts this year, Remy Boy was also on the road, taking the gospel to the Netherlands, Belgium, Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta, Vancouver, Toronto, Denver, Mumbai, and a lot more. The 23-year-old singer and performer also sold out the iconic O2 arena in London, just like other afrobeats heavyweights like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, and Asake.

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The 20 best Afrobeats artists of 2023 | Notjustok (2024)

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