• bird's TenX Series picks the ranking from the streaming platform Spotify
Female artistes are a major driver of the Afrobeats phenomenon, producing some of the top singles and collaborations that rank as the most-streamed Afrobeats hits both on the continent and abroad. Their global recognition is aided by wins and mentions in the world's top music and entertainment awards.
Afrobeats emerged in the late 1960s and primarily involved the fusion of a variety of West African music genres, such as juju, highlife, fuji and Yoruba vocals, rhythms and instrumentals. During this period, the music grew mostly on the continent and was primarily associated with two West African countries: Nigeria and Ghana.
Today, young African artists, many in their 20s, are infusing the genre with R&B, soul, hip-hop and reggaeton to create their own easily identifiable beats. Increasingly, tracks have gone viral, breaking country, regional and continental boundaries to make Afrobeats a global sensation, which has also influenced some of the world's biggest musicians.
According to streaming platform Spotify, Afrobeats tracks were streamed more than 13.5 billion times on the platform in 2022, up from 2 billion in 2017.
Here is a list of 10 top female Afrobeats artistes, ranked according to the number of streams on the streaming platform Spotify, in June 2023:
Tems is a multi-award-winning female Afrobeats artist, whose work continues to gain global acclaim and attract international collaborators. She was the first Nigerian female artist to win a Grammy for Best Melodic Rap Performance, alongside Drake and Future for their song 'Wait for U'. 'Lift Me Up,' which Tems co-wrote with Rihanna and which featured on the soundtrack to 2022's 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,' was nominated for Best Original Song at this year's Oscars. Tems received international acclaim for her appearance on Wizkid's 'Essence,' which received a Grammy nomination for Best Global Music Performance. She has also collaborated with Beyoncé and Justin Bieber.
2. ARYA STARR
This Benin-born Nigerian Afropop star has carved out a niche for herself with what she describes as 'music for the soul'. 'Rush', a song she released in 2022, was the initial lure for what is now a global fanbase. Starr has since become one of the most streamed artistEs on Spotify in Nairobi and Paris. Another collaboration, 'Overdose,' by Arya, Crayon, Ladipoe, Magixx and Boy Spyce, has been named one of the top exported collaborations.
Singer-songwriter Amaarae gained global recognition in 2021 with the remix of 'Sad Girlz Luv Money' featuring Kali Uchis. The Ghanaian-American released her second album ‘Fountain Baby’ this year, which further cemented her as an Afrobeats fan favourite. The style icon has a massive social media following and is credited as being the first Ghanaian musician to perform at NPR’s Tiny Desk.
Best known for her breakthrough single 'People', which was inspired by her cyclothymia (a milder form of bipolar disorder), Libianca's music has been primarily streamed in London, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Cameroonian-American singer rose to international prominence after appearing in Season 21 of NBC's 'The Voice' in 2019.
Darkoo's single 'Gangsta', which featured British rapper One Acen, catapulted the Nigerian-born British rapper and singer to fame. The song peaked at 22 on the Official Singles Chart and 1 on the 2020 UK Afrobeats Chart.
6. TIWA SAVAGE
Dubbed the 'Queen of Afrobeats', Tiwa Savage will be the first female Afrobeats artiste to headline Wembley Arena in November, marking yet another milestone for the Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress. Her songs are mostly in English and Yoruba, and include R&B, pop and hip hop.
Fave is a fast-rising Nigerian female artiste who rose to prominence during the Covid-19 lockdown with soulful lyrics and hypnotic vocals. Her hit song, 'Baby Riddim', a follow-up to her single 'Beautifully', has recently gained international attention.
8. YEMI ALADE
Yemi Alade is Nigeria's biggest female Afrobeats artiste and one of Africa's most recognisable pop icons. 'My Power', on which she collaborates with Nija, Busiswa, Tierra Whack and Moonchild Sanelly, is one of the top exported Afrobeats collaborations.
Simi has earned the moniker 'studio brat' for her versatile mixing and mastering abilities. This Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress began her music career as a gospel singer, and her debut studio album, 'Ogaju,' was released in 2008.
This Ghanaian songbird is famous for the hit song 'Forever', which has also seen the release of a remix by Nigerian Afro-fusion star Omah Lay. Gyakie released her debut single 'Love is Pretty' in 2019.