The Best African Hip Hop Songs Of 2020 (So Far)

Get hip to some of the biggest, best and most talked about African Hip-Hop tracks of 2020, from the likes of Nasty C, Sarkodie, M.I. Abaga and more.

African stars are rapping and and I’m here for all of it. If you don’t find hip hop on the continent exciting then you haven’t been paying attention. 2020 picked up from where 2019 left off and served up another entertaining rap beef. Kenyan rapper Khaligraph Jones and Nigeria’s Blaqbonez got involved in a lyrical exchange that ended just as fast as it started but it served its purpose.

Def Jam Records opened shop in Africa with Def Jam Recordings Africa and Nasty C finally got to work with his idol. We also received projects from the likes of Jesse Jagz, Tucker HD, Xtatic and one of my favorite musical discoveries ByLwansta. The competition is cut throat and the excitement keeps growing. If the quality of releases continue at this current trajectory then it won’t be much longer before the world’s attention switches to African hip hop.

In our typical tradition of starting conversations centered around rap music in Africa. Here are some of the best songs that caught our attention so far this year. A more comprehensive and updated version will be released year end.

Khaligraph Jones x Breeder LW "Ni Kubaya"

If it hasn’t been said before, Khaligraph Jones is really really good at rapping. The “best rapper in Nigeria” teams up with Breeder LW to deliver fire cracker raps on Ni Kubaya.

‪Nasty C Feat. T.I. “They Don’t”

All eyes are on Nasty C right now as he continues making waves internationally. The 23-year old South African rapper switches the narrative from his usual braggadocio raps and offers an unfiltered insight  to the plight of black people around the world. Nasty C tackles racism, Injustice and police brutality on “They Don’t” featuring T.I.

“They don't want me to win, they don't want me to eat ,” he raps. “They don't want to see a young black man succeed/They don't want to see me take my brothers out of the streets.” 

‪Steph Feat. Skartel “None O Dem“ ‬

Steph served us an introduction to her potential with her debut EP Change. On the Skartel assisted “None O Dem,” which is a standout on the EP and a personal favorite of mine, the Kenyan newcomer dabbles in some toxic behavior while trying to tempt her opps. She wants all the smoke.‬

‪Khaligraph Jones "Best Rapper In Nigeria"

‪We hadn’t finished eating New Year's left overs when Khaligraph Jones dropped “Best Rapper In Nigeria.” The Kenyan proclaimed himself the best rapper in Nigeria as a challenge to Blaqbonez after Blaq trolled him for winning the Best Hip Hop Act award at the 2020 Soundcity MVP Awards, which took place in January. If you’re not caught up on the story you can get familiar  here.

Jones puts him in his place ‬and also shits on Nigeria’s hip hop scene while at it: “Nigerian rappers used to be the hardest in the game but along the way it changed and then you started chasing fame, fix your lives up before you think of mentioning my name.” In hindsight Blaq was right when he said kJ is doing all he can to blow in Nigeria. I’m certain Jones is banned from entering Nigeria. 

‪Ganja Beatz Feat. Costa Titch And Fonzo "ISH"

‪South African hit-making producer duo Ganja Beatz enlists the services of new hip hop sensation Costa Titch and Fonzo for their new bop titled "ISH.”‬

‪Emtee "Johustleburg"

‪One of his city's most promising risers. Emtee’s love for the hustle is a huge part of his fairytale story. The "We Up" rapper pays tribute to the city that made it all possible in this melodic single Johustleburg. “Grew up in the city then I blew up in the city,' he croons. "Used to sell my lil' sticky, life was a lil' bit tricky/I was working, I was busy/They would purchase, I would get it." ‬ - Johustleburg is a beautiful track that encapsulates Emtee’s love for his hometown.

Kwesta Feat. Riky Rick “The Finesse”

Kwesta is feeling like MJ and Pac. The South African delivers slick talk on “The Finesse” featuring Riky Rick, Who delivers a rare underwhelming verse. The Finesse alongside Njandini is part of a two track EP titled 2 Skeif.

‪AKA “Monuments”

AKA made is comeback in May with three brand new singles: Cross My Heart, Energy and Monuments. Altough the former two are noteworthy mentions, "Monuments" is the highlight of the 3. AKA raps about the covid 19 pandemic and the stay at home order it triggered. “It's easy to stay to stay home when you ain't gotta deal with no domestic abuse/ Please count your blessings, don't be complaining about your wife or connection."

Ma-E Feat. K.O “Navigator”

‪It’s almost telepathic how well Ma-E and K.O work together on a song. With over two decades of music between them, their chemistry on the African continent remains unmatched and they just keep getting better.

The duo add to their lengthy list of collaborations with Navigator. It’s hard to see how this track is not one of the best so far.

‪Big Zulu, Kwesta, YoungstaCPT and Zakwe “Ama Million”

Earlier this year Big Zulu recruited the services of Kwesta, Youngstacpt and Zakwe for the remix of his 2019 single Ama Million. If you thought the OG version with Cassper Nyovest was good, this is way better.

I have a blog post highlighting some of the best African hip hop posse cuts so be on the lookout for it.‬ 

‪Sarkodie x M.anifest “Brown Paper Bag“

‪Sarkodie and Mdot put aside their rivalry and use their superpowers to dismantle the machine designed to keep black people Africans suppressed. “The United States of Africa is what they don't wanna see/But that's the only way my people can survive/They divide and conquer with just a Brown paper bag, Sark raps before adding “So now we cherish the money and not the money machine.” No better time for black people to take back what is ours than now. We Matter!

Nasty C “There They Go”

Nasty C is gearing up for the release of his Def Jam debut “Zulu Man With Some Power” and so far, every single that he has released from the project has been a hit. “There They Go” finds Nasty C serving up his usual boastful raps. 

‪Tucker HD x Blixxack Feat. Lagum "Monster"

There’s so much to love about Tucker HD and Blixxack's new project, Open Time, but there’s just something about rappers rapping that excites me. Some of UG's new faces bring their A-game to the forefront on Monster. In a recent interview with Creative, HD describes the collaboration as  "a statement of dedication and commitment towards being the best at what we do regardless of whatever challenges we may face as rappers on the rise in Uganda."

Don’t say it loudly, but Lagum might have the hardest African rap verse of the year. You should definitely run this back. ‬

‪Xtatic ‬“Moment”

‪ ‪

Xtatic has always had a knack for writing songs that cut deep. ‬The polarizing artist proves just how skilled she is in capturing her most familiar young and adult experiences in her latest project Soxial Xperiment. The Kenyan embraces her flaws in the introspective Moments.

‪Phlow "Cheque"

Phlow delves into some money talk and spits relatable raps on Cheque. She speaks for the everyday creators who just want some monetary rewards for their efforts. When she said: “Show me the paper; owu dun tire me.” I felt that. “Cheque” is taken from Phlow’s latest EP Marmalade.

‪Blaqbonez “Green Blaq Green” (Khaligraph Jones Diss)

‪Blaqbonez started off as a battle rapper and has proven he’s not afraid to square up when challenged. The Haba rapper (have you streamed Haba?) responds to Khaligraph Jones’ Best Rapper In Nigeria diss with some fiery bars of his own. He pokes fun at KJ’s desperation to infiltrate the Nigerian market. “The Nigerian hype juice got this nigga obsessed, you been tryna blow here but no one ever cared. M.I, Ice tried to help bruh it never could work‬.”

‪Joey B Feat. Sarkodie "La Bamba"

I don’t think Sarkodie got the memo. While Joey B opted for a minimalist flow,‬ Sarkodie casually turned in a contender for the hardest African rap verse of the year. Sark brought a grenade to a knife fight. Sheesh.

AQ “Men Slept, Jesus Wept‬“

AQ delivers a song that stands out as an instant favorite on an album full of more than a few other instant favorites. The rapper reflects on his come up and is transition to greatness on Men Slept Jesus Wept. Off his tenth studio LP God's Engineering.

‪The Mith "The Ugandan Cypher"

‪One of the best African hip hop songs of the year so far comes from Ugandan rapper The Mith. The veteran rapper delivers haughty raps and declares War on his opps in his long awaited single The Ugandan Cypher. Why bother with a hook when you can just rap?

‪M.I Abaga Feat. A-Q “The Trinity”

‪Veteran Nigerian rapper M.I. Abaga comes for his detractors on The Trinity featuring A-Q. M.I. serves up supercilious raps packed with subliminals that may or may not be aimed at Vector.

Terry Tha Rapman “Dan Maraya In A New Bugatti”

This song actually grew on me. Like the best Terry Tha Rapman songs, it is endlessly repeatable, and the melody gets stuck in your head before you’ve even listened to it enough to absorb what he’s saying.

Nadia Nakai Feat. Emtee “40 Bars”

Family Tree's first lady boasts about her expensive living and accomplishments over Patrickxxlee's haunting baseline : "Look at all the records we broke, all the shows and the tours, man we gotta be up," she raps. "Y’all niggas gotta be hatin’, off of the deals that we makin’/I hardly go on vacation, too busy stacking this paper." Elsewhere on the track she declares her confidence over her own body.

Jesse Jagz “B”

Why is this track included? I can’t fully defend its inclusion but it’s Jesse Jagz and I couldn’t ignore. B is the lead single from the Nigerian's comeback EP Garba - titled after his traditional name.

Stogie T Feat. Nasty C, Boity And Nadia Nakai "All You Do Is Talk"

I imagine Tumi recorded this song with his favorite cigar in his hands. ‪Stogie T chooses to flex on the peasants on “All You  Do Is Talk.“

‬As nice as Stogie and Nadia Nakai are on this, Boity proves that she can rap with the best of them if she wishes. “I am a Queen guess you’ll never relate.” ‬

All You Do Is Talk is off the new LP by the veteran MC titled The Empire Of Sheep Deluxe Unmasked.‬ The only thing that would’ve made this song even better was if we actually got a verse from Nasty C. This is a banger. 

Sarkodie “Sub Zero”

Sarkodie responds to his critics on Sub Zero. The aggressive track also doubles as a reply to fellow Ghanaian artist Shatta Wale's social media back talk.

Mayorkun "Geng"

Mayorkun is responsible for one of 2020’s biggest songs. The DMW artist serves up an anthemic grime and afrobeats infused single that dominated Nigeria’s airspace for large parts of the first half of the year. The raps is mundane and simplistic, but there’s just something about that hook that gets the people going. Geng was the Lagos based rapper's mainstream breakthrough.

Teck-Zilla x Psalmurai “Soul Calibre"

‪Nigerian producer Teck-Zilla has been quietly dropping potent collaborative projects over the last few years with the likes of  IllBliss, Modenine and MCSkill Tha PreachaHe recently teamed up with Psalmurai for a Kung-Fu themed EP titled Enter The Double Dragon. “Soul Calibre” is not the flashiest song on the list, but it’s certainly one of the best so far.

Larry Gaga Feat. M.I Abaga And Efya “Hold On”

Larry Gaga offers a positive outlook on life in his latest single "Hold On” featuring M.I. Abaga and Ghana's music diva Efya: “Said hold on, change is coming/Hold on, you can make it,” Efya reassures.

Lines like “Frustrated like damn, haven’t I done enough,” will resonate deeply with listeners. The track arrives at a time the world is going through simulation-like changes.

ByLwansta Feat. Kimosabe “Nightcrawlerz”

The second half to ByLwansta’s SPIJØNGET debut album chronicles the inverted moments around his move to Johannesburg. On "NIGHTCRAWLERZ," which is one of four songs on the project, ByLwansta recounts a trippy night in Jo'burg when he got mugged at gunpoint while on his way to catch a bus to Durban in December.

Eno Barnoy "Argument Done”

‪Like Khaligraph Jones and Blaqbonez, Eno Barony is another African rapper entangled in a rap beef.  The mother of all rappers empties the clip in her latest onslaught titled “Argument Done.”

‪The track produced by Hype Lyrix is a direct rebuttal to fellow Ghanaian artist Sista Afia’s “You Got Nerves” diss. Can’t we all just get along?

The list was handpicked from songs that were sent to our email and also featured on our website from   January 2020 - June 2020.
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