Toppa Top ’15: Fifteen Artists to Watch In 2015

15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 +1

+1: Sarkodie/Timaya/Wizkid/Davido

From Scandinavia to Trinidad, West African sounds are infiltrating dancefloors around the world. At the same time, if you’re attuned to the tempos of dancehall, soca and other Caribbean music styles, you can’t help but notice how much current West African music is influenced by the Caribbean. Timaya, Sarkodie, Wizkid and Davido are well-established acts in their native Nigeria and Ghana (and in many other places, too), so it’s not entirely accurate to dub them “up and coming,” hence their “+1” status. But it’s possible that at least one could (or perhaps Burna Boy, from 2013’s Artists to Watch class) could soon be a household name in the Caribbean, too, thanks to the blurring lines between Afrobeats, dancehall and soca. Timaya, a staple presence in Nigeria’s hip-hop scene since 2007, is the closest to that breakthrough, thanks to “Shake Your Bum Bum,” a 2012 track that was the subject of separate remixes by Machel Montano and Sean Paul last year. His latest hit “Sanko,” is a near-perfect fusion of Afrobeats and island pop that our DJ Jam Central tells us is getting big reactions at Trini soca fetes. Sarkodie’s “Love Rocks” (featuring Samini) is another strong recent track to fuse reggae with Afrobeats. Davido’s “Skelewu,” easily one of the biggest songs out of Nigeria last year, has been tackled by dancehall choreographers, though it’s not as indebted to dancehall as his 2013 hit “All of You.” And Wizkid, 2014 artist of the year at The Headies, Nigeria’s version of the Grammys, made his own dancehall influences explicit on his 2013 remix of Popcaan’s “Only Man She Want.”