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Nations of Nostalgia: African Music, Across the Diaspora

In the not too distant past, Africans in the diaspora were literally starved for music from home.  Apart from stocking up on mix tapes during their visits back to the continent, there wasn’t much opportunity to hear the latest tunes from home. Today, however, African music has developed a huge global following, and radios around the world feature it as a staple. Access to African music has exploded in the last two decades. A quick pass on Spotify or YouTube yields countless Ugandan music playlists organised by year and genre, and with the influence of Nigerian artists on global pop and South Africa’s amapiano and gqom tearing up clubs internationally, the Western visibility of music from the continent has reached unprecedented levels. The pendulum of cultural influence has swung so far the other way that if you made a mixtape of American radio hits today, there would be African pop on it.