Tems is Apple Music’s Africa Rising artist of the month

While Omah Lay takes the cover spot on the platform's 'r&b Now' playlist

The potential for growth in Africa’s music streaming culture has pushed previously absent streaming platforms to set-up their services in several countries around the continent, and for already existing ones, to continue consolidating their presence in a bid to improve their market share. On the latter side of this spectrum is Apple Music, the streaming behemoth which significantly increased their presence in Sub-Saharan Africa earlier this year, offering their services in thirty countries, a massive improvement from the prior thirteen that could access the platform.

It’s one of the several indicators that shows how Apple Music is raising the stakes of its operation in Africa, by actively widening its base of potential streamers on the continent and placing an emphasis on the colourful multiplicity of the music coming out of Africa. “I Don’t Think Africa Makes One Style Of Music – I Love Santi And Odunsi. It Can Go From Nasty C To Manifest, From Teni to Cassper Nyovest. There Isn’t One Sonic Representation Of Africa”, Ebro Darden, Global Head of Apple Music Editorial for r&b and hip-hop shared with us back in May.


View this post on Instagram


Honoured to be the next Africa rising artist, Thank you🙏🏾 @applemusic More in my bio🕊 #africarising

A post shared by TEMS (@temsbaby) on

In that same month, Apple Music launched “Africa Month”, which consisted of a month-long celebration of African music, through curated editorial content and a slew of playlists displaying the continent’s sonic variedness. That month also saw the proper inauguration of two of Apple Music’s highly revered playlists, ‘Africa Rising’ and ‘Africa Now’. The former is dedicated to spotlighting highly talented and rising artists on the continent, while the later caters to “the latest and greatest songs presenting the African continent in its lush entirety”. Both these playlists are curated to spotlight a wide range of artists, while the cover artists are shuffled on a fortnightly basis—Africa Rising changes its cover artist every month, while Africa Now does that on a weekly basis.

At this moment, two of Nigeria’s young and brightest artists, Tems and Omah Lay, are on the cover of two prominent Apple Music playlists. For this month, Tems has been the feature artist of Africa Rising, following the release of her magnificent debut EP, ‘For Broken Ears’. Throughout this year, the highly-rated singer has been manifesting the sort of unique breakout many have been predicting, following her burst into mainstream consciousness with last summer’s “Try Me”. Rather than make any hurried moves, the Issue 004 cover star took her time with releasing her very first project, clearly an extension of her meticulous creative process.

Entirely written and majorly produced by Tems herself, ‘For Broken Ears’ instantly confirmed what we’ve known all along: Tems is a supremely gifted artist who’s primed for superstar status. Being on the cover of Africa Rising is the latest in a long line of co-signs for the singer, and for what it’s worth, it shows that Apple Music is paying attention, not lip service, to the new vanguard of afropop. Interestingly, Omah Lay graced the debut cover of Africa Rising when it debuted, following the release of his phenomenal debut EP, ‘Get Layd’.


View this post on Instagram


Look who’s the global cover star of R&BNOW playlist on Apple Music!! DAMN feat @6lack streaming now on @applemusic 💜

A post shared by Omah Lay (@omah_lay) on

Officially debuting on Valentine’s Day with the syrupy “You”, Omah Lay has quickly become the biggest breakout sensation of this year. ‘Get Layd’ was a stunning introduction into his strengths as an evocative writer, a delightful producer and a conjurer of loosely flowing melodies. The EP was the soundtrack of quarantine for a significant portion of Nigerian listeners, with the EP locked into the top ten of the Local Apple Music chart for over four months, on the way to racking up over 120million streams across all platforms.

Omah Lay’s selection as the cover star of R&B Now this week coincides with the release of “Damn (Remix)”, an updated version of the standout cut off his EP, which features a new, stellar contribution from American R&B singer 6lack. When ‘Get Layd’ first dropped, we named “Damn” Best New Music for its striking songwriting, which found Omah Lay expressing self-assuredness and messiness in equally honest terms. This particular quality, along with the loosely flowing melody, fits right into 6lack’s hip-hop-influenced r&b wheelhouse. Much like this feature, being on the cover so early on in his career solidifies, in certain terms, that Omah Lay is the latest pop superstar on the block.