Feeling the Heat

The Rhythm of the African Diaspora Plays Everywhere—Including Our Afro Hub

January 10, 2019

African music is everywhere. You hear it in Jamaican reggae rhythms, Brazilian salsa songs, and in Atlanta trap tracks. It’s on the streets, in the clubs, and climbing the charts. We’re celebrating the continent’s expressive and diverse music culture in one dedicated space—our new Afro Hub.    

Launched late last year, the hub shares the eclectic sounds of Africa and the African diaspora. And there’s something for everyone, whether you’re discovering Nigerian-British R&B singer Jacob Banks, or falling back in love with favorites you may not know are African-born, like Sade. With the hub, people can access amazing music, from traditional African sounds to electrifying party anthems to compelling podcasts.

We sat down with Spotify Global Lead of African Music & Culture Tunde Ogundipe to learn more about the origins of the Afro Hub, what listeners can expect, and where it’s headed next.

What’s the inspiration behind the Afro Hub?

The idea for the Afro Hub is to be an educational portal, not just for Africans, and not just for the African diaspora, but for everyone—people who are familiar with this type of music and for those who want to discover more.

So the goal of the Afro Hub is to bring all of these different cultures and communities together from the diaspora, especially from the continent of Africa. The hub organizes the sounds of these cultures and communities, making them easy for people to discover in one place.

How is the Afro Hub organized and what types of playlists can people look forward to discovering within it?

The flagship playlist is called African Heat. It’s like our RapCaviar, where people can listen to our top hits. It’s a way for us to show the rest of the world that, hey, there’s music coming out of Africa that, while they’re all amazing, is not only your traditional Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Angélique Kidjo, or Fela Kuti. There’s this whole burgeoning pop scene that’s happening in Africa that you guys need to be hip to.

With Spotify leading the way and creating the Afro Hub, and especially with the playlist African Heat, it’s no longer just mainstream music from West Africa available for discovery. It’s now trending music and regional playlists from the West, East, Central, and South Africa. It’s a much wider and more inclusive net, an amalgamation of all the different areas of the continent represented equally, providing more balance than before.

Some other playlists to check out on the hub are We Everywhere, with top Afro bashment, fusion, and crossover hits; Peppeh, featuring fresh discoveries and early bets on new music; and Gold Mine, full of Afrowave hits and nostalgic classics.

How do you incorporate podcasts into the Afro Hub, and what kinds of podcasts can people discover there?

The big challenge was finding podcasts that are interesting and varied enough for the African diaspora. We reached out to a bunch of influencers in Africa, and asked what podcasts they listened to that spoke to African culture. Each one sent us a list of fifty or so podcasts.

A few really stood out right away, including Jesus and Jollof, which has a really fun and interesting vibe. It features cohosts Luvvie Ajayi, an award-winning author and speaker, and Yvonne Orji, (who stars on HBO’s Insecure.) They’re two powerful Nigerian women talking about things they love, their personal stories, and life in general. Rants & Randomness is another Luvvie Ajayi podcast that was a no-brainer to include. She brings on all-star guests and talks about all things pop culture and society in her own funny yet hold-nothing-back way. There’s also Flagrant 2: No Easy Buckets, a sports podcast hosted by Akaash Singh, Kazeem Famuyide, and Andrew Schulz. It’s a salty, super-entertaining show filled with all kinds of hot takes.

We also have a cooking podcast in the hub that highlights different cuisines across Africa, and there are news- and entrepreneurship-focused podcasts that follow the top general and business news in different regions of the continent.

What makes the Afro Hub so enticing?

People gravitate toward this music, even when they aren’t really familiar with it. They come to the hub because the sound has always attracted people—the same people who like dancehall music, people who love Latin pop music, world music, and Afro pop. It’s the same source with the same energy. People might not even understand the lyrics, but they can vibe to it anyway and keep coming back. That’s why this is so successful.

Ready to give the Afro Hub a spin? Get started with our flagship playlist, African Heat, below.