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5 East African Music Stars You Should Know

By Zaina Adamu

African music is causing excitement that can be felt and heard all around the world. In East Africa, specifically, a new wave of talent is materializing, bringing the world fresh new tunes to help people let go and just dance. Here are some East African artists you should add to your playlist.

Diamond Platnumz

Popular Tanzanian-born recording artist Nasibu Abdul Juma, better known as Diamond Platnumz, captured the hearts of millions with his chart-topping hits including “Eneka,” “Number One,” and “Marry You.” The superstar is the first African artist to surpass more than 2 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, which showcases an astounding list of music packed with hard-hitting melodies and groovy tunes. He credits his success to his humility, telling Coke Studio, “Be humble. No matter who you become, if you are not humble you can’t get by.”

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Born and raised in Uganda, 24-year-old Vinka shows no signs of slowing down. Born Veronica Luggya, Vinka began her career as a backup dancer for artists until she decided to go the corporate route and become a talent manager while attending college. Fame came calling in 2017 when she broke out on her own as a musician and she hasn’t looked backed. Vinka’s hit songs include “Chips Na Ketchup,” “Bigambo,” and “By the Way.” The 2019 AFRIMMA nominee credits music as her “pick me up” during rough times. “For me naturally, music has always been good for my soul,” she told MTV in 2018. “Music is something that speaks to me. It changes my mood from sad to extremely happy. It’s God-given.”


Hailing from Kenya, Nyashinski caught the attention of record execs when he began his career as one-third of the Kenyan rap group Kleptomaniax. He has since gone on to create hit singles on his own, including “Finyo,” “Hello,” and “Bebi Bebi.” Known for his rap skills, Nyashinski surprised fans when he started singing on one of his biggest hits to date, “Malaika,” a song that got heavy rotation on radio stations throughout the East African region. “It is always a different challenge to evoke emotion with rapping. With singing you can communicate emotion with melody,” he said in a 2018 VIP Access interview.

Knowles Butera

Before becoming one of the biggest stars in Rwanda, Knowles Butera, born Jeanne d’Arc Ingabire Butera, was a singer at a local choir in her hometown. She became a national sensation when she released her debut album, Komeza, which quickly rose the charts. Since then, she has won numerous awards including clinching first place for the 5th Edition of the Primus Gumma Gumma Superstar, a Rwandan reality singing competition show. She is the first woman to win the competition. Her hits include “Day to Day,” “Nzaba Mpari,” and “Winning Team.”

The Ben

Benjamin Mugisha, better known as The Ben, is charting new territories with a wide-ranging sound all his own. The 32-year-old independent artist, hailing from Rwanda, became a household name more than 10 years ago when he won “Best Afro R&B Singer of the Year” at the 2008 Salax Music Awards. Since then, the “Ndaje, Habibi” and “I Am in Love” star has been invited to perform at the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg and has performed at the United Nations headquarters in New York. “My future plans in my music career involve being able to give back to society and aim at making [my fans] proud,” he said in a 2016 The New Times interview.

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