The One Africa Music fest held in New York over the weekend and both Africans from all corners of the continent have not stopped talking about it. However, despite its supposedly diverse line-up of artists from all over the continent, we are still befuddled by the omission of some Africa’s biggest new-school favourites from its Barclay Center stage. Here are 5 of Africa’s biggest artists who could have similarly held their own at the One Africa Music Fest.
Save for the inclusion of Ghanaian songbird Efya in StoneBwoy’s brief set, One Africa Music Fest would have merely showcased Tiwa Savage as the only African woman worthy of its stage. This is against the backdrop of a Yemi Alade who released her Mama Africa sophomore album to Africa-wide buzz barely 5 months ago. With countless concerts headlined across Africa and numerous hits to boot, Yemi Alade’s inclusion for this concert should have been a default.
Okay, this is where things get sketchy. We could recount all the successes Casper Novyest has recorded over the years to make him worthy of a placement on the line-up but we’re not trying to be rude. Because come on! This is fucking Casper – the man sold out a 20,000 capacity hall in his own home country of South Africa without any international acts billed. You know how many people the Barclays Center in New York can take? 18,103. Let whoever did the A&R for the One Africa Music fest go back into the dark corners of their decision making green room to think about that.
Olamide’s catalog may be lacking cohesive records, but unarguably the rapper has been one of the most consistent artists out of Nigeria in the last three years. Yet he was another major name unexpectedly absent at Barclays Centre on Saturday night. This, by the way, is a rapper who held the New York edition of his Olamide Live In Concert tour at a 4000 capacity Amazura Concert Hall in the same city last April. Between his ability to pull a stronger crowd and a collection of hits he could have dished out succinctly, the organisers of OAMF really have very few logical reasons for his omission.
Looking outside of Nigeria, East African boy band Sauti Sol is another name that comes to mind. The Kenyan Afro-pop band’s run since they broke out in 2013 has been nothing short of stellar. In the last year alone, they have further extended their tentacles of domination with both BET and MTV Award nominations, while etching their names on the rest of the continent with recorded collaborations alongside some of African music’s biggest movers. While we understand budget constraints could have led to the choice of solo Tanzanian singer Diamond Platnumz over a group act, It is inexcusable nonetheless that any concert tagged as one for ‘Africa’ would exempt these amazing guys.
What is an African Music fest without a rounded showcase of the continent’s soundscape with a producer/DJ set? The inclusion of Don Jazzy on the line up would have sufficed if then man didn’t hide in the shadows of Tiwa Savage’s twerking booty during his entire time on the Barclays Center stage. The requirement of a DJ set would have been the perfect insert for production collective Uhuru who have Mafikizolo’s Khona, Drake’s One Dance, Davido’s The Sound and Wizkid’s Ngomwani amongst other super jams in their catalog. African music is a lot more than mere jukebox sing-alongs and exasperating live performances, and you’d think anyone setting up a show of this magnitude would understand this.