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An African Love Songs Playlist for Valentine’s Day

An African Love Songs Playlist for Valentine’s Day

In this curated Afrocritik’s Valentine’s Day playlist, we dive into a selection of songs that celebrate love in its many forms.

By Afrocritik’s Music Editorial Board

Love is in the air, and for those seeking to create a surreal ambience and elevate their romance experience on Valentine’s Day, there’s a rich offering of African love songs to set the mood. From the rhythmic beats of Afro-R&B to the soul-stirring and body-swinging melodies of Soul, African music captures love and romance at its core, like no other. 

In this curated Afrocritik’s Valentine’s Day playlist, we dive into a selection of songs that celebrate love in its many forms. So, grab your partner’s hand, and let the music lead you to a realm where love reigns supreme.

The Ben – “Vazi” (Rwanda)

Rwandan singer-songwriter, Benjamin Mugisha, professionally known as The Ben, presents his 2019 song, “Vazi”, as a paean which uses emphasis — with Vazi being a Kinyarwanda word that translates to “You Know”— to cue those in love to declare their affection to their partners. Mashing up Kinyarwanda, French, and English in its lyrics, “Vazi” declares The Ben’s unwavering commitment to this one lover that completes him. It is also a nudge for the said lover to bestow upon him, if possible, a similar kind of affection. With an enthralling melody, the song accords itself to the worthiness of being a mainstay in most African love song playlists.

Jay Melody – “Nakupenda” (Tanzania)

Jay Melody — real name Sharif Said Juma — is one of the biggest music acts currently in the East African Swahili Belt. In 2022, his single “Nakupenda” was one of the biggest hit singles within the region. An artiste known for his fervent and profound songwriting skills, he usually seems to gravitate this dexterity more towards explainer lyrics of the ins and outs of love. “Nakupenda” is the one song of his that reveals this best. 

Nikita Kering’ – “Happy With You” (Kenya)

Kenyan singer, Nikita Kering’ wrote and recorded “Happy With You” when she was just 16 years old. Just as the track’s title implies, this is a song about the happiness that comes with having a person by your side whom you have ineffable affection for. “Happy With You”  has in recent times become kind of an indispensable track in Kenyan weddings; its slow-paced tempo and emotional lyrics serve as a fine centrepiece to the celebration of love unions.

Eddy Kenzo – “Mariaroza” (Uganda)

In “Mariaroza”, Ugandan artiste, Eddy Kenzo, sings of a woman named Mariaroza and declares himself lost without her. With warbling percussions, “Mariaroza” is that one song that you can dance to as well as dedicate to a lover you might be at odds with.  “Mariaroza”  was released in 2015. 

Dotti the Deity – “Forever Sweet”  (Nigeria)

Incorporating instrumentation from African Drums and Yoruba lyricism, Dotti the Deity’s “Forever Sweet” is an up-to-scratch celebration of romance. Dotti delivers his lyrics with special quality, and the track isn’t hindered by his almost reclusive narration technique. The bouncy feel to the song can oddly enough also be taken as a representation of the thrill-seeking that comes with finding love.

Lloyiso – “Let Me Love You Now” (South Africa)

South African R&B/Soul singer and songwriter, Lloyiso, is deep in his feelings in “Let Me Love You Now”, a standout single off his highly-praised project, Seasons. Lloyiso coasts smoothly over the faded piano chords and slow-burning string arrangements, crafting a heartfelt ode to a love interest who may be uncertain of his affections. Through poignant lyrics, he tenderly urges her to embrace love and openness, singing, “If you believe in love, tell me why you’re hiding/ Tell me why you always running? (Come on closer)/ If you believe in us, take me where your heart is/ Take me where your mind is floating (I wanna be where you are).”

Magixx & Ayra Starr – “Love Don’t Cost A Dime” (Nigeria)

Mavin signee, Magixx, recruits fellow label mate, Ayra Starr, for the re-up version of his single, “Love Don’t Cost A Dime”. The track title, which is somewhat a drawn inspiration from Jennifer Lopez’s 2000 hit single, “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”, or the 2003 American teen-comedy flick of the same name, sees both artistes celebrate their affection for each other without the need for material wealth. Set against a backdrop of sizzling, mid-tempo melodies, they express their devotion in a refreshing take on modern love.

Timi Dakolo – “Iyawo Mi” (Nigeria)

Go to any Nigerian wedding reception and it’s almost a guarantee that Timi Dakolo’s timeless classic, “Iyawo Mi”, will serenade the crowd before the festivities conclude. Dakolo, known for his distinctive raspy vocals, is celebrated not only for his unparalleled songwriting but also for his emotive delivery. In this heartfelt ballad produced by Cohbams Asuquo, he pours out his devotion to his wife, pledging eternal love. This is the perfect soundtrack for that cherished first dance, capturing the essence of deep commitment.

Chike – “Roju” (Nigeria)

Chike effortlessly embodies the archetype of the ultimate lover boy, and in his beautiful offering, “Roju”, he presents a captivating melody dedicated to Adaugo, his beloved, seamlessly blending English and native Igbo lyrics. With his smooth, velvety vocals, Chike pledges unwavering love and undivided devotion to his cherished partner, painting a picture of timeless romance and affection.

Adekunle Gold & Simi – “Look What You Made Me Do” (Nigeria)

A standout moment on Adekunle Gold’s album, Tequila Ever After, is the collaboration with his wife, Simi, on the track “Look What You Made Me Do”. Intimate and stripped down, their vocals intertwine effortlessly as they croon about the lengths they’ve gone to for love. The song captures the essence of their marriage, with each lyric resonating with the overarching passionate acts inspired by their devotion to each other. 

Johnny Drille – “Believe Me” (Nigeria)

Johnny Drille has established himself as one of Africa’s most formidable love crooners, and on “Believe Me” he proves himself once again. The song, which features backup vocals from Don Jazzy, tells the tale of a lover who tries to convince his love interest that he loves her. Aside from the infectious lyrics and Drille’s sonorous voice whispering sweet nonsense to his lover, the accompanying music video also pulls viewers into Drille’s world. 

The colourful music video shows Drille wooing his love interest, Tomi Ojo (Far From Home), but her father, Wale Ojo (Breath of Life) fights against their love affair. It’s a familiar story: the girl’s father thinks that her boyfriend is bad news, but he reminisces on his own love story and allows his daughter’s love affair to blossom in peace. Everyone loves a good love story with little opposition, so of course “Believe Me” is well-received by music lovers. To date, the song’s heartwarming music video and lyrics will fit perfectly in any love playlist, that’s why it’s on ours.

Joeboy – “Body & Soul” (Nigeria)

Joeboy’s “Body & Soul” is another love song that has found its way into different love playlists. On the record, the singer and songwriter sings to his lover, telling her that he is the best choice and that his feelings are genuine. With lyrics like, “I hold you down and I’ve told you I dey for you/all these things wey I dey talk right now, I dey feel am for my body and soul” Joeboy pledges his undying allegiance to his love interest. If that’s not romantic, then you need a little romance in your life.

Mr Eazi – “Legalize” (Nigeria)

One thing that makes Mr Eazi’s “Legalize” special is that it is a romantic offering to his partner, Temi Otedola. If you are looking for a song that best describes your feelings for your love interest or a perfect proposal song, then “Legalize” fits perfectly. The song’s lyrics describe the artiste’s feelings and his intentions to marry his lover. 

Banky W – “Yes/No” (Nigeria)

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Before Banky W became a politician or pastor, he was churning out some of the best Nigerian love songs, and “Yes/No” is a good example. Released in 2013, “Yes/No” garnered a lot of attention because of its relatable lyrics and groovy beats. In the song, Banky W asks his love interest to be his lover in the most sincere way. If you are about to make your intentions known to your love interest this season or perhaps you’d like to reignite your lover’s feelings, then let Banky’s “Yes/No” work its magic. 

Sauti Sol – “Afrikan Star” (Kenya/Nigeria)

With “Afrikan Star”, Sauti Sol and Burna Boy describe the beauty of their respective love interests, while they attempt to make their romantic feelings known. Rendered in English, Yoruba, and Swahili, “Afrikan Star” is a beautiful love song that uses different African languages to compliment the beauty of African women and express heartfelt emotions. 

Nimco Happy – “Isii Nafta” (Somalia)

The uptempo track by the Somalian singer finds her showering praise on her lover. The track, which means “I love you more than my life,” is a dash between languages. For those who might not understand the language,  the production quality of the song already puts them in the right mood. No doubt, the man in question would be lucky to have Nimco Happy.

Cassper Nyovest ft. Abidoza & Boohle – “Siyathandana”  (South Africa)

Boohle serves as the engine room of this Amapiano-driven song. She effortlessly bounces around the rhythm to score a romantic jam while ensuring a club-like vibe. Released during the pandemic, this track also serves as a superb sonic accomplishment post-COVID era. It’s a sweet, bouncy celebration of love.

Le Band ft. Suzziah – “Number 1” (Kenya)

Le Band, the Kenya-based music group, struck gold when they released this song in 2017. It swirls between R&B and pop genres with the kick punctuating almost all the endnotes. Although the production could have been better, the group manoeuvres through this weakness to craft a genre-bending song.  The feminine part of the song elevates the track, with a noticeable vocal inflection permeating the song.

Sidiki Diabaté – “Fais Moi Confiance” (Mali)

Romantic relationships are sometimes bedevilled with a lot of crises, whether from unfaithfulness to distrust. On this track, this singer tackles distrust as he tries all he can to allay his lover’s fears. He promises to always stand by her. The song begins with a Kora playing behind, with the production laid on the Kora which aids Sidiki Diabaté’s articulation.

Diamond Platnumz ft. Omarion – “African Beauty” (Tanzania)

On the Krizbeat-produced song, Tanzania superstar, Diamond Platnumz, links up with American music legend, Omarion, for a romantic voyage between Africa and America. The love-soaked vocals and grooves help in propagating the romantic messages of the song. Both artistes leverage each other’s strengths to craft this song.

 

Cover Photo: iStock

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