In late February, Spotify announced a groundbreaking expansion to Over 80 new world markets. Many of these markets are in sub-Saharan African countries, which will enter the continent with the largest youth population in the world. This move is one of the most promising ones African heat Playlist and artists featured in it. Previously, most of the music creators in the playlist were not able to hear it. But now, with expanded access, one can only imagine the possibilities that would come from African artists who would be able to connect with each other’s work in a way that was not possible a month ago.
To celebrate African dance music and playlist itself, we’ve launched the “African Hit to the Streets” campaign and the #AfricanHit Challenge. In our newly released campaign video, directed by South African filmmaker Jandi Tisani, a group of acclaimed and talented young dancers from Johannesburg, London, Lagos, Accra and New York showcase contemporary dance on rooftops, alleys and streets. It’s important to note that they’re all dancing: “Who is the star?By Focalistic, A track featured in the African hit playlist and an example of the playlist’s commitment to promoting the hottest music from the continent.
In a recent conversation, Melania Carmen Trigard, editor of Playlist, talks about the work of curating. African heat, The potential to expand music from continents at previously unheard of rates, and cross-pollination that could inspire producers across African expatriates.
What goes into the curation of your playlist? Is it based on your personal taste or is it having the biggest impact among expatriates?
It is a collaborative effort of my team, as we observe the hits coming from the continent at the moment, it is West Africa, East Africa, South Africa, Central Africa; Or expatriate tracks focusing on the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Brazil, and perhaps a scatter that could be a potential hit that fans should be looking for. Our decisions are informed by a combination of information and editorial instincts. With the expansion of Spotify in sub-Saharan Africa we will now be able to access more accurate information about listening trends and habits from continents.
From your experience so far, have you seen an upsurge in the audience outside of expatriates?
100%. There are markets around the world that may not necessarily have large expatriates like the United States, the United Kingdom or France. However, you still see markets like Australia receiving African heat or let’s say markets like Mexico. For me, African heat is not just for Africans. This is for African music lovers.
Can you tell me why such a playlist is so significant, especially the way the music is playing now? Over the past five years or so, the world has become much more familiar with what is coming out of the continent, especially in West and South Africa.
I think it’s incredibly important because it speaks first and foremost to African music lovers. The spread of Spotify in sub-Saharan Africa is an important moment not only for African producers, but also for African music fans around the world. For me personally, this is an exciting time to be in space because discovering music is so easy and real. And I also hope that we are going to see an increase in cross-pollination or cross-border mutual cooperation with artists across the continent. And this will probably happen in parallel with the acceleration of African music exports.
Traditionally, African heat has been associated with the words you refer to [in west and South Africa]. The popularity of playlists can be largely attributed to the undeniable pace of Afrobit over the past decade. But as its audience draws a wider base, it is also evolving, and reflecting much more of all commercial music genres from Africa.
Do you think there are any special genres that have a great potential for cross-pollination? For example, Changed Views outside of West Africa. The strength of that scene is that it’s not a word than a youth movement and a culture that runs counter to whatever the mainstream is. Or even something like Amapiano in South Africa with which many Nigerian artists have started associating.
I like the sections you mention. I think the Alté movement will be incredibly important for our Africans. Alté, it’s more like a movement than a genre. It almost contradicts the expected standards of hip-hop, R&B, and indie aphrodisiacs. We just scratched the surface of the movement as music fans. I think Spotify’s expansion is moving forward because I think alté – as a culture – is an underdog that hasn’t been fully tapped yet. You mentioned Amapiano Gengheton is coming from outside South Africa but also from Kenya. Gengetone Amapiano has similar origins. Zenpeton, like Amapiano, is youth-driven, very raw, very hyperlocal, very social media based, not often playlisted. And for me, it’s a trend to keep an eye on. Then, last but not least, the combination of Amapiano with the local genre like Afropiano – Afropito. Then you play with the ampeno of the Genepton artists; So rapping in Swahili and other local languages, but on Amapiano beats. In Mozambique, we see electronic dance makers experimenting with the word ampiano and Portuguese songs, this new term has been unofficially called “mozpiano”. So, for me right now, the wave is Afropiano, which is extremely exciting. It shows how music can cross boundaries and bring artists together.
I have reported something about the music scene in South Africa and a frustration has been expressed to me from artists that their music is highly influential on the continent, but not extremely influential in the world. For example, South African artists can influence music in West Africa but the more widespread West African expatriates around the world, the more likely they are to see a global impact. Do you think the African heat will allow tidal changes to see their wider impact in South Africa and other regions?
I think for Africa, house music is set through South Africa. Through artists like Black Coffee and DJ Log In which are already known in those global markets [the house subgenre] gqom. There are a lot of artists moving forward, but there is a lot of work left. I think the Western media has just scratched the surface of the great African genius on the continent from all genres: from house music, aphrobites, genjeton, Bongo Flava.
What do you think of the potential spread of African hip-hop?
Hip-hop has a healthy long history with Africa, as with the rest of the world. Hip-hop is one of the best genres in South Africa – applicable to both Naughty C and Travis Scott. What you will find across the continent is a regional scene that looks and sounds quite different from each other, as they use it to re-imagine their local context, and yet is universally influenced by the way American hip-hop evolves. That’s why you can find at least four different drill scenes from Ghana to Kenya to South Africa.
What do you think will be the success story of the African hit one year from now?
It’s double. I consider myself part of the African music industry so for me, part of that question is that we break down a lot of artists through African hits. That global playlist is recognized worldwide, sees potential and sees continental traction, and continues to receive support through the Western media. But not just Western media – markets like Brazil and India and so on. So I almost think the success for the African hit is the export of this genre to audiences outside of Africa. And for African Hits as a brand, it’s not just a playlist it’s about culture. My hope is that African Hits just surpasses a playlist.