Over the last couple of years, Africa has become an increasingly important force on the global music scene, leading labels, publishers and streaming services to extend their reach on the long-neglected continent. In late April, Apple Music announced an expansion of its platform in two dozen African countries, and now the streaming service has unveiled a new initiative to identify and showcase rising talent on the continent.
Named Africa Rising, the artist program and companion playlist will feature an African artist chosen by Apple Music’s editorial team every two months, using the full weight of the platform to elevate their careers in Africa and around the world. The first artist to be highlighted is Nigerian-born, Afro-fusion singer-songwriter Omah Lay, whose debut EP Get Layd has been the No. 1 album on Apple Music Nigeria since its release in May.
“I have always used Apple Music, seeing my favorite artists on playlist covers and features but here I am looking pretty as Apple Music’s first Africa Rising artist,” said Lay in a statement. “I am overwhelmed, dreams really do come true”
Lay is the first Africa Rising cover star to be featured on the companion playlist, which will also highlight some of the hottest new and emerging artists on the continent across genres.
“I’m so excited that my fellow Nigerian Omah Lay is Apple Music’s first Africa Rising artist,” added Cuppy, who hosts Apple Music’s recently-launched Africa Now Radio. “This new program and its playlist will elevate the next generation of African superstars and bring them to the world.”
Lay began his career as a teenage member of the rap group Lil King. He later switched to producing before deciding to launch a solo career. In 2019, Lay’s singles “Do Not Disturb” and “Hello Brother” ended up in heavy rotation on commercial stations in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
“I wasn’t expecting all of this,” Lay told Apple Music host Nadeska Alexis in an interview slated to air Friday. “I didn’t expect it to happen this fast and so soon, you know what I mean? But I’m grateful. I just made music, I put it out, and everybody’s loving it.”