Africa’s R&B Finds Its Pulse With Spotify’s ‘Tantalizers’

Posted on November 16, 2023

The evolution of African music has been exciting to watch. From the strains of highlife music played live in bars and on wireless radios to selling out international arenas with electric performances, the sound of the continent has never been more relevant on the world scene. And yet, Africa’s music cannot be confined to one box.

Back in 2016, Spotify recognized the undeniable presence of Afro R&B in Africa’s musical landscape.

TANTALIZERS, one of Spotify’s earliest afro-leaning playlists, was born out of this realisation. It was a nod to the fact that R&B had found its home within the hearts of African artists and listeners, becoming an integral part of the continent’s rich musical ecosystem.

This playlist embraces and celebrates the soulful melodies of R&B infused with local flavours from across Africa’s vast and vibrant geographical and musical landscape. What is the inspiration behind TANTALIZERS? What beats define it? And why do Thursdays and Fridays offer the ultimate experience? Benewaah Boateng, Spotify’s West Africa Editor tells us more.

Hit after hit played on TANTALIZERS takes the listener on a sonic journey through the best R&B and afro R&B tracks from Africa’s leading vocalists. This curated experience goes further than being a playlist representing the finest songwriting and tunes Africa has to offer. Consider that Africa is made up of  hundreds of cultures, and yet, can unite around one music form.

The magic starts in the genre itself. R&B transcends language and location, connecting listeners through universal themes of love, passion, and emotion. The TANTALIZERS audience features a mix of the genders, interestingly with a slight skew towards male listeners. That should come as no surprise to anyone who understands the true nature of African men as consummate lovers. A significant portion of TANTALIZERS’ fanbase hails from Kenya, a testament to the burgeoning R&B and R&B fusion scene sweeping across East Africa, but the West and South are not left behind, with Nigeria and South Africa coming in right after..

In reality, though, this R&B revolution is not unexpected. In its own way, R&B has always been a substantial part of Africa’s soundscape. Artists like Ghana’s Kojo Antwi and Nigeria’s 2Baba explored R&B and love ballads between the 1980s and early 2000s, setting the stage for the genre’s current resurgence. Yes, Afrobeats and Amapiano dominate the conversation today, but R&B is quietly and steadily making its mark, offering a genre that’s both nostalgic and fresh through every generation of music lovers.

The most-streamed songs on TANTALIZERS all share a common thread – a little bounce and an up-tempo melody. Tracks like Jeune Lio’s Test Me and Tyla’s Girl Next Door have become instant favourites, thanks to the subtle bounce in their production that gets listeners grooving.

According to Spotify data, Thursdays and Fridays emerge as the top listening days for TANTALIZERS. The reason? It’s simple – the weekend vibe. Africans love the leisure of the weekend where we can connect with each other on a deeper level. Nothing sets the mood better than the smooth and rhythmic tunes of R&B.

So, what should you look out for from this list of homegrown R&B acts? Don’t sleep on Xenia Manasseh’s exceptional songwriting skills or the soul-touching melodies of Botswana native Titose. To call these the future of African R&B would not be an overstatement. And if you like the modern R&B melodies of American Frank Ocean, Bryson Tiller, and SZA, check out what Uganda’s very own singer-songwriter MAUIMØØN can do.

Spotify prides itself in understanding young African’s tastes based on the data available. Part of this is what makes TANTALIZERS the leading R&B playlist across anglophone, francophone and lusophone Africa and beyond, with majority of listeners coming from the 18-29 year olds And what does the data say about the number of tracks that makes a playlist feel just right? The sweet spot is 45 to 60 songs, and that’s what TANTALIZERS gives.

Get into the heartbeat of African R&B with TANTALIZERS on Spotify. Tune in, turn up the volume, and let TANTALIZERS be the soundtrack to your rediscovery of feelings that only R&B can stir up deep within you.

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