If we’re being honest ranking the best African rappers isn’t the easiest thing to do. There’s just so much to contend with and ultimately bias and individual preferences come into play. I already shared my thoughts on this subject and you can read about it here.
We consume music differently and the creators, when releasing music, take into consideration their cultural history, public acceptance, and rhythms, and may not necessarily be releasing music for a wider audience. An artist that chooses to rap in his traditional dialect will not be received the same way as one that chooses to rap in English. Should they be left out of discussions or do we find other ways to include them in conversations?
To strike a balance for my Top 50 African Rappers Of 2021 list, I focused on overall output; the number of songs, freestyles, LPs, and EPs released. Basically, the more consistent you are with your music releases and overall output, the higher your ranking. Past achievements and accolades are irrelevant.
In 2021 we received major song releases and projects from OGs like Sarkodie, notebook rappers like Priddy Ugly and YoungstaCPT, as well as newcomers like Blxckie and Dee Koala. All of the aforementioned artists make an appearance on our Top 50 African Rappers of 2021 list.
Editor’s note: Like our previous lists, the Top 50 mostly consist of artists we’ve either featured or followed on our website.
50. Dip Doundou Guiss (Senegal)
49. Sinzu (Nigeria)
Nigerian rapper SinZu followed up 2020’s No Promo project with the second entry in the series. The 7-track project contains guest appearances from Kwesi Arthur, Terry Apala, Bils and Scarface Lomo.
48. Rosa Ree (Tanzania)
47. Phillip Mweemba (Zambia)
Zambian newcomer, Phillip Mweemba is an exciting prospect. If you follow him on Instagram then I’m sure you’ve come across some of his contributions to some popular rap challenges. In addition to featuring on the Zamrock Cypher alongside Holstar and a few others, Phillip also dropped his new mixtape titled “Dude It’s The Sequel.” Stacked at 14-tracks, the project combines his love for alternative hip hop, Jazz, trap and orchestral infused boom bap. His progression is one to keep an eye on.
46. Lyrical Joe (Ghana)
45. Blixxack (Uganda)
In 2021 Blixxack released The BARista EP exclusively on his website. For some unknown reason, the project wasn’t made available on streaming platforms and is almost nowhere to be found, which is a bummer because it’s one of the best EP’s you’ll never hear. Until his music becomes saturated, I fear he’s going to remain one of Uganda and Africa’s best-kept secret.
44. Big Zulu (South Africa)
43. Dee Koala (South Africa)
This year was an important one for Dee Koala who needed to build on the success of previous years.
After bursting onto the scene in 2019 with her breakthrough single “Whuzet?,” the witty, humorous newcomer continued to mark herself as a force to be reckoned with, eventually delivering the blistering “Spazz” featuring Blxckie and K. Keed. She also landed a spot on MTV Base’s hottest South African MCs of 2021.
42. Askia (Cameroon)
Askia is one of the most consistent Cameroonian rappers out now. In 2021 she ate up controversies and clapped back at her critics on songs like Contraband Freestyle.
41. Tucker HD (Uganda)
2021 wasn’t Tucker HD’s most prolific in terms of high-profile releases, but he still did enough to land a spot in our Top 50 for this year.
40. AKA (South Africa)
AKA wasn’t his usual self earlier in the year, for obvious reasons. However, he returned to form towards the latter stages, releasing a handful of singles with Costa Titch, as well as a collaborative effort.
39. Dominant-1 (Malawi)
When he wants to rap, only a certain few on the continent can rival Dominant-1’s pen game. Luckily for them, and unfortunately for him, he doesn’t rap enough. In 2021 D1 dropped a few freestyles, but his biggest musical contribution was his collaborative effort with Holstar, African Diamond. His position might upset him, but it’s a fair representation of his output.
38. Omar Sterling (Ghana)
Omar Sterling finally released his long-awaited debut album, “Same Earth Different Worlds” in 2021.
37. Flvme (South Africa)
Flvme lived up to his name in 2021. Dropping fire verses on too many songs to name.
36. ByLwansta (South Africa)
ByLwansta is a freakishly talented and creative artist. His overall aesthetic reminds me so much of Tyler, The Creator.
35. K.O (South Africa)
Many thought K.O slowed down in 2020 and maybe he did. In 2021 the rapper put every doubt to rest with the release of K.Hova, which is one of the songs of the year. In November, he introduced the world to his Skhandaworld roster with the release of the label’s debut compilation, Welcome To The Planet.
Skhandaworld roster consists of K.O. Ma-E, Loki, Roii, DJ MR X and Just Bheki.
34. M.I Abaga (Nigeria)
During the year in review, M.I. delivered some killer verses, most noticeably for the likes of Vector and Loose Kaynon. The veteran rapper closed out the year with the Lamb 3.0 Cypher and the INCREDIBLE Music Festival. We expect him to be higher in the rankings when he releases his new album next year.
33. Khuli Chana (South Africa)
32. E.L (Ghana)
In 2021 E.L continued his Bar exam with the 6th installment. This series used to mean a lot, but no longer carries the same potency as earlier iterations. Regardless, “Bar 6” is a worthy entry in the now popular series.
31. Bombshell Grenade (Zambia)
Bombshell Grenade is a name that surprisingly doesn’t get mentioned a lot in discussions. The newly crowned Afrimma best female rapper in Africa is a name I have followed keenly since 2016, and I can say she’s been very consistent with her brand promotion and music. She released several songs this year leading to the release of her new album Mfumu Kadzi.
30. Nasty C (South Africa)
Another rapper that made the list solely on the strength of features. Nasty C had a helluva year in 2020 and is allowed a year off.