There are artists across Africa whose stars are rapidly rising and they are able to command larger and larger paychecks around the world. Highly influential and each bringing their own unique sound, these artists represent the richest African musicians. Here are the 15 wealthiest African musicians, arranged in no particular order.
Jose (or Joe) Chameleone is a Ugandan artist who found his niche blending traditional Ugandan folk music, a bit of rumba and a heavy reggae influence. He sings in English, Swahili, and Luganda. His mansion outside of Kampala and four cars (including a Cadillac Escalade and a Benz) are evidence of his success, particularly with his hit, “Valu Valu.” He’s been credited with changing the face of music in Uganda, as well as making local music accessible to the rest of the world.
Born Olubankole Wellington in the U.S., Banky W moved back to Nigeria and grew up in Lagos, where he began singing at an early age. He found success early in singing competitions. Most of his wealth has come from endorsement deals with companies such as Estisalat mobile and Samsung in Nigeria. He also started the Mr. Capable Foundation, an education charity that provides tuition scholarships for disadvantaged children.
Born in Nigeria, Panshak Zamani, aka Ice Prince, started writing rap songs and performing them at his high school. He got together with artist M.I. to form the band The Loopy Crew, but it wasn’t until he started releasing singles like “Extraordinary” or “Rewind,” that he started getting airtime in Nigeria. His debut album, “Everybody Loves Ice Prince,” was very successful, and he has since won many awards including Channel O prizes and a BET Award for Best International Act Africa in 2013. He collaborates often with Banky W, whom he calls his mentor.
One of the leading hip hop artists today in his home country of Ghana, Sarkodie usually raps in his native language, Twi. His style is actually called hip life — a Ghanian hip hop creation that fuses high life, hip hop, dance hall, and reggae. He has been nominated for and won many Ghana Music Awards, and in 2012 won the BET Award for Best International Act Africa. Heading his own clothing line, Sark by Yas and having shared the stage with American stars T-Pain, Ludacris, and Trey Songz, Sarkodie is on his way. Forbes and Channel O put him at No. 8 for Africa’s most bankable artists.
Born in Luanda, Angola, Ralph moved to New York to complete an accounting degree. After many unsuccessful attempts to become known in the American and European Latin music scenes, he returned to Angola and cut his “Histórias de Amor” album in the Portuguese language. It was a runaway hit, and he won the MTV Europe Music Award in 2006 for Best African Artist. His subsequent albums have rocked the Portuguese albums charts, and he most recently has been signed by Coca-Cola to be Angola’s first promotional artist. His music is enormous in the Brazilian zouk dance scene.
Nigerian singer-songwriter 2 Face Idibia began his career as a member of the hip hop group Plantashun Boyz, but went solo in 2004 after the group split. His most popular song, “African Queen,” took off after being featured in the movie “Phat Girlz” in 2006, but all of his five albums have been very well received around the world. His wealth comes from various real estate investments across Nigeria, as well as the $80,000 he commands per show.
Fally Ipupa, a former member of Quartier Latin International (along with Koffi Olomidé, who also made this list), went solo in 2006 and has been incredibly successful, both in his home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as internationally. With MTV Africa Music and Kora awards under his belt, he’s racked up clothing endorsement deals in Paris as well as high commissions for his shows across the world, which are almost always sold-out.
Born and raised in Mali, singer and songwriter Salif Keita has been referred to as the “Golden Voice of Africa” with his original take on Afropop music. Despite his royal heritage (he’s directly descended from Sundiata Keita, founder of the Mali Empire), he chose a path of music, bucking the Malian caste system. But this means that he was loaded even before his music career took off, explaining his private island and properties across Europe.
Along with fellow Congolese star Fally Ipupa, Koffi Olomidé formed Quartier Latin as lead singer and vocalist before launching his solo career. Dubbing his style of music as tcha tcho, he considers it a blend of soukous music (dance music that originated from African rumba music). He’s notorious for taking on controversial subjects in his lyrics, which has led him to be widely praised and criticized worldwide. Raking in over 100,000 euros per show, Olomidé is extremely popular across Africa and the world. One of his albums is listed in Robert Dimery’s book, “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.”
D’banj, aka the Koko Master, aka Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo, has been killing it in his native Nigeria and around the world since 2007, and was the first African artist who signed with the music label GOOD, owned by Kanye West. The recipient of countless awards, D’banj is known for his unique sound of dance music and Afro beats. He is involved in a variety of investments including a nightclub in Nigeria, brands such as Koko water, and was given his own reality show, “Koko Mansion.”
In 2009, this Nigerian recording artist’s single, “Holla At Your Boy,” became a hit in Africa. This young superstar was signed onto Banky W’s label Empire Mates Entertainment. Channel O and Forbes weighed him in as the fifth most bankable African musician. In 2011, he won the Hip Hop World Award for “Next Rated.” He has collaborated with numerous international artists, and is also Pepsi’s highest-paid ambassador to Africa.
P-Square is made up of identical twins, Peter and Paul Okoye, who began singing and dancing together back in their small Catholic high school in Jos, Nigeria. After forming the group in 2005, their music developed a devoted following, particularly in South Africa, and each album outsold the previous one. They were named Artists of the Year at the 2010 Kora Awards and now bring in more than $150,000 per show. Best of all, their shared home is worth more than $3 million and has been dubbed “Squareville.” Talk about product placement!
A multi-award winning artist and record label CEO from Nigeria, Jazzy actually started the label Mo’ Hits Records in 2004 with his childhood friend, D’banj (featured a few slides back), but they split. Now D’Banj is the president, while Don Jazzy has a new company, Mavin Records. With mostly production credits under his belt, he was noticed by Kanye West in 2011, and made a producer on his GOOD Music label. His work and voice can be heard on Kanye and Jay-Z’s “Watch the Throne” album. Forbes named him the 36th Most Powerful African, and he’s the second richest musician in Africa according to Forbes Africa and Channel O.
Not surprisingly, Youssou N’dour brings it home. This Senegalese singer is widely considered the most famous singer alive in Senegal and much of Africa. His style of music is known as mbalax, a mix of Senegalese traditional music in the Serer language and various styles from around the world including Cuban rumba, hip hop, jazz, and soul. With millions around the world in his fan base, he is now the owner of the biggest media house in Senegal (complete with radio and TV stations) and was appointed tourism and culture minister in 2012. More importantly, before K’naan had “Waving Flag” in 2010, N’dour was responsible for the 1998 FIFA World Cup national anthem, “La Cour des Grands,” along with Axelle Red.
Heard of him? Yeah, he’s from Africa — Senegal to be exact — although he was born and spent lots of his childhood in Missouri and New Jersey. The CEO of Konvict Music and a multi-talented genius, he’s a producer for such artists as Lady Gaga, Leona Lewis, and T-Pain, a collaborator with Eminem and the late Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, and a songwriter. He’s at least the most popular in the world of this bunch. He is the first solo artist to have both No. 1 and No. 2 positions on the Billboard Hot 100, and has five Grammy nominations. Channel O and Forbes Africa named him the most bankable/richest African musician, and he makes many other top 10 lists every year.