The 5 Best Afrobeat/Afropop Albums Of June 2024

June brought forth a cascade of musical treasures, with several African artists delivering exceptional Afropop and Afrobeat albums. Here are the top 5 albums that graced our ears and playlists last month:

Tems – Born In The Wild

Nearly six years after the release of her breakout single “Mr Rebel” in 2018, Nigerian superstar Tems has unveiled her highly anticipated debut LP, “Born in the Wild.” In the years leading up to this album, Tems has experienced a meteoric rise, marked by numerous career milestones. From her acclaimed 2020 debut EP “For Broken Ears” to global megahit collaborations with Wizkid and Justin Bieber on “Essence” and Drake on “Fountains,” Tems has continually pushed the boundaries of her artistry. Her sophomore EP, “If Orange Was a Place,” appearances on the 2022 “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” soundtrack, including songwriting credits for Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up,” and a Grammy win for Future and Drake’s “Wait for U” in 2023 further solidified her status as an international star.

“Born in the Wild” captures Tems’ remarkable journey over the past few years, presenting a deeply personal narrative across 18 tracks. The album offers a glimpse into her journal, documenting the highs of her burgeoning career and her inner struggles. “I had to step back a bit, to check in with myself,” Tems (Temilade Openiyi) shares with Apple Music, “and also just find healing from all the trauma and everything I experienced before ‘Tems’. I think I had to unlearn a lot of things. This album is just a new way of me expressing myself, while still centring who I am in it.”

The album delves into themes of impostor syndrome, rebuilding self-confidence, navigating relationships, and learning to trust oneself. Despite the introspective nature of the work, it’s clear that this is the journal of someone who has done the work and is ready to embrace the next chapter. Tems’ signature honest and mature storytelling is ever-present, with her distinctive voice balancing layers of raw emotion and natural ease.

Tems’ reflective songwriting showcases her sonic maturity and defies genre restrictions. She seamlessly traverses from R&B (“Burning”) to fusions of Afrobeats and amapiano (“Get It Right”), while also celebrating her culture and heritage, exemplified by her reimagined version of Seyi Sodimu’s 1997 hit, “Love Me Jeje.”

“Born in the Wild” is a monument to Tems’ personal and artistic development, providing fans with a truly intimate and emotional listening experience.

Reggie – TRAVIS

Ghanaian rapper Reggie has come through with a new body of work titled ‘TRAVIS.’ Known as the Asakaa poster boy, Reggie’s latest release is a seven-track extended play that promises pure vibes from the Ghanaian hip-hop scene.

‘TRAVIS’ features collaborations with some of Ghana’s finest, including Kweku Smoke, Medusa, Beeztrap KOTM, and more. Each track on the EP is meticulously crafted, with exceptional song arrangement and top-notch production that highlights the talents of all involved.

King Promise – True To Self

“This time I felt like, ‘Be true to self,’” Ghanaian singer-songwriter King Promise in an interview about his third album. “I found the right balance between what my sound truly is, who I really am, and what I really want to churn out through my music. The title speaks for what I actually want to give off with this album.”

King Promise’s new album, ‘True To Self,’ is a testament to his evolution as an artist. Reflecting on his journey, he explains how he has become more open about the real-life romantic relationships that have inspired many of the songs on this album. “I’m the most vulnerable I’ve ever been with my music, the most true I’ve been, and everything has clues to it where it’s not just fiction,” he shares.

Five years after his debut with 2019’s ‘As Promised’ and two years following his sophomore album ‘5 Star,’ King Promise continues to show his passion for creating new music. “You attain new heights in life, in career, in love, in family and business—and all those ones push you even to believe furthermore,” he says. His soothing singing voice and ability to adapt to a fast-changing musical landscape have helped him maintain his relevance.

In ‘True To Self,’ King Promise delves into troubled and ongoing romantic dilemmas, showcasing a depth of emotion and personal insight. “I’ve been calling it True to Self even before I had 50 per cent of it, so that kind of even shaped the direction more,” he notes. This album, he believes, offers listeners the freedom to be themselves. “Also, energy is infectious. If you love what you do and you put it out that way, I feel like people will catch on to the love you had for making it as well.”

‘True To Self’ is not just an album title; it represents King Promise’s journey to authenticity, capturing the essence of his experiences and emotions. As he continues to grow and evolve, his music remains a powerful medium for expressing his true self, resonating with fans around the world.

Falz – Before The Feast

Award-winning Nigerian rapper Falz is back with a brand new offering, the Before The Feast EP. This much-anticipated project marks Falz’s first solo release of 2024, following the collaborative success of his 2023 track “Ndi Ike,” featuring Flavour and ODUMODUBLVCK, which drew inspiration from Igbo culture.

Before The Feast arrives as a six-track extended play packed with star power. Falz has enlisted a stellar lineup of guest appearances, including veteran highlife act Flavour, the ever-potent Phyno, Mavin star Crayon, smooth operator Adekunle Gold, and Nigerian-born English rapper Shaybo.

Described as a culinary journey through sound, Before The Feast promises a diverse and flavorful listening experience. Falz, known for his clever wordplay, captivating storytelling, and genre-bending approach to music, is set to deliver a project that will tantalize the taste buds (well, ears) of music lovers everywhere.

This EP can be seen as an appetizer for a potentially larger feast to come, possibly hinting at a bigger project Falz might be working on. The title itself leaves fans speculating about what might follow.

With Before The Feast, Falz aims to showcase his artistic evolution. The EP explores new sonic territories, some of which we’ve never experienced with Falz before. Dropping witty bars alongside Phyno, harmonizing with Adekunle Gold, or weaving his signature flow with the likes of Crayon and Shaybo, Falz is sure to keep listeners engaged from start to finish.

Arathejay – Finding Nimo : The Capsule

AratheJay is emerging as a pivotal figure in the Afro-pop scene, firmly establishing himself not only as a dominant force in the genre but also as a leading talent from Ghana. His latest EP is poised to be a standout “album” of the summer, capturing the essence of contemporary African music with a distinctive flair that sets him apart.

The project showcases AratheJay’s remarkable versatility and talent through a diverse array of tracks. Infused with a blend of mid-tempo rhythms, the EP strikes a perfect balance between groove and melody, captivating listeners with an enchanting auditory experience. It pays homage to Ghanaian musical traditions with elements of highlife, adding a profound cultural layer to the EP. Additionally, AratheJay demonstrates his lyrical prowess through rap, skillfully blending different musical styles to create a cohesive and compelling narrative.

“The Capsule,” which serves as the first chapter of the Finding Nimo series, boasts stellar production credits from DJ Breezy, Signal (from Nigeria), RankingMadeIt, JoeyOntheTrack, Nvrhcos, Afrolektra, and BillyDray, with mixing and mastering expertly handled by RankingMadeIt and 7th Romahn. The EP was executively produced by Almighty Entertainment. The features are meticulously chosen to enhance the album’s vibe, with artists like Aema and B4Bonnah delivering standout performances that seamlessly blend with AratheJay’s distinctive musical style.

One of the EP’s standout tracks is “C’est La Vie,” an upbeat amapiano anthem that embodies the vibrant and energetic spirit of the genre. With its infectious beat and catchy lyrics, this track is poised to become a favourite this summer, encouraging listeners to embrace the moment and enjoy the rhythm of life.

In total, AratheJay delivers a sublime 9-track project that is bound to have listeners hitting replay. Each track is meticulously crafted to offer a fresh and dynamic listening experience, showcasing his potential to lead the Afro-pop/Afrobeats scene. This EP not only solidifies his status as a rising star from Ghana but also marks a significant milestone in his musical journey, hinting at even greater achievements to come.

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