10 Afro House Artists You Should Know
May 23, 2022
7 min read
Over the years, Afrohouse has been considered an underground genre across the African continent. But that’s all changing, as electronic music scenes have recently gained a foothold across the region. The rise in popularity is mainly due to the increase in multi-day music festivals such as Uganda’s Nyege Nyege, Kenya’s Gondwana, and South Africa’s Oppikoppi music festivals. And as artists like Black Coffee, Themba, and AMEME continue to tighten their grasp on dance floors across the planet, Afrohouse is firmly establishing itself as a worldwide dance music phenomenon.
The scene has turned many underground artists into regional touchstones for house heads. Many of these house artists lean heavily into traditional African sounds blended with electronic beats that are becoming hard to ignore. Here are 10 Afrohouse acts you simply have to know.
Born Nkosinathi Innocent Sizwe Maphumulo, Black Coffee is a Grammy award-winning South African DJ, record producer, and songwriter. He’s built his career gradually over nearly two decades, riding the growing global interest in his home country’s burgeoning dance music scene and eventually becoming arguably the biggest DJ in Africa.
Black Coffee isn’t very demonstrative behind the decks. Instead, he maintains a cool demeanor while the entire dance floor goes nuts. With chart-topping albums such as Have Another One (2007), Home Brewed (2009), Africa Rising (2012), Pieces of Me (2015), and Subconsciously (2021), Black Coffee has been a fixture of the global electronic scene flying flags for both house music and the vibrant electronic scene of his native South Africa.
Sun El Musician
Sanele Sithole, also known as Sun-El Musician, is a South African Producer known and loved for his ‘golden ears’ in producing phenomenal dance music. Sun-El’s reputation was shaped by years of working with key producers like Demor Sikhosana, who helped get him started in the industry and producing tracks for the likes of Thiwe, Zakes Bantwini, and Shota.
The self-taught Sun-El has put all he’s learned into a label of his own, El World Music, which counts Simmy and S-Tone, who both appeared on his debut album Africa to the World, among its roster. With several hits under his belt and projects with well-regarded talents such as Samthing Soweto and Ami Faku, Sun El Musician has more than proven his worth as an artist and continues to be a pillar of African dance music.
Kenyan-born DJ, Music Producer & Sound Engineer SURAJ creates contemporary electronic music infused with traditional African, cultural and musical elements. After making his debut in Nairobi, SURAJ has emerged as a dynamic and trailblazing DJ/producer in East Africa. Since then, he has set his sights on becoming a beacon in Africa’s burgeoning electronic music scene.
SURAJ simply doesn’t miss when it comes to carefully curating a sonic experience that compliments his surroundings. He is at the forefront of Kenya’s electronic music movement as the co-founder of Afro-house label Gondwana, which has grown to be a permanent fixture in Kenya’s electronic music scene.
South Africa’s Kabelo Motsamai, widely known as Prince Kaybee, is a household name in the African dance music scene. Spurred on by the phenomenal success of “Charlotte,” his hit single featuring Lady Zamar, the dance music star has been well on his way to taking on the world.
Prince Kaybee’s sound is almost like a genre on its own. Experiencing great production coupled with the authentic instruments, but there’s something more. Prince Kaybee is acknowledged for his top-notch mixing and electric shows, performing on some of the most prestigious stages in the world, propelling him into a unique league of dance stars.
Asanda Lusaseni Mvana, known as Msaki, is a keystone in the African dance scene. She does not just write songs. She breathes life into them. The East London-born musician, composer, producer, and curator has carved a lane of her own making as she is the ethereal voice heard on multiple Afrohouse hits.
Msaki released her EP Nalithemba on her label Oneshushuday Artistry in 2013, her debut album Zaneliza (2016) and Platinumb Heart Beating (2021). Some of her collaborations include songs with Black Coffee, Black Motion, Mobi Dixon, Kid X, Revolution, and her song with Prince Kaybee, “Fetch your Life.”
The Johannesburg-based dance duo, Black Motion, composed of DJ/producer Robert Mahosana and percussionist Thabo Mabogwane, are always ready to bring the noise. Their sound is defined by lively traditional percussive elements blended with house music and multilingual vocals. Their interesting dynamic, and incredibly entertaining live shows leave crowds in awe.
The timeless sounds of Black Motion are ethereal, and the infusion of indigenous instruments certainly makes for a great listening experience. They have graced stages all over South Africa and Europe and are a distinct force to be reckoned with in this genre.
South African singer-songwriter Simphiwe Nhlangulela better known as Simmy, continues to carve out a distinctive position in the dance music scene. Simmy is part of the new generation taking the reins of African music, reminding us of the colorful and nostalgic pathways of African history.
Her sound is fueled by her deep rich, beautiful vocals and uplifting instrumentation. Under EL World Music, Simmy releases heavy hitters that touch on contemporary issues and more personal narratives speaking to life and love in the digital age.
Zakes Bantwini, affectionately known as the King of Dance, is noted for his electrifying presence on stage. Zakes is able to integrate respective cultures and musical backgrounds with their love for electronic music as a versatile singer, producer, and songwriter with a knack for a fusion of sound that employs music from different dance genres.
The South African producer is responsible for hits like “Osama,” which became one of the biggest 2021 dance anthems. This track and many others on his catalog serve as an aural embodiment of Zakes’ vibrant sound, with upbeat tempos laced with melodic percussions.
Lemon & Herb
Childhood friends Skhumbuzo Radebe and Don Sithole from Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, form the music production duo Lemon & Herb.
The duo is famous for their distinctly South African rhythms fused with futuristic melodies packaged as warm tunes filled with meaningful messages that can be rocked on the drive home or in the club. Their ability to bring together futuristic melodies with world club appeal puts them front and center of the current African charge.
African Tribal rhythms layered onto satisfyingly haunting beats and an energetic tempo are the aesthetic of South African producer Patrick Dumisani Mahlangu better known as Caiiro.
In 2016, Caiiro released his debut album First Impressions, launching his musical journey to the global scene. His international music career has grown rapidly over the years, which has him touring Africa, Europe, and North America. Following in the footsteps of internationally acclaimed DJ Black Coffee, Caiiro aims to create and export music that will live on forever.