Malian- born French superstar Aya Nakamura released her album DNK on January 27 and in a record three days, it had topped charts around the world. This is her fourth album and the single, Baby is number 2 in Canada with fans going crazy for her French rap style with catchy phrases that combine R&B with the danceable rhythms of Afropop.
The queen of French rap as she’s known in France has come a long way from her days in the tough suburbs of Aulnay-sous-Bois. Nakamura who took the name from a tv character was born in Mali in 1995 as Aya Coco Danioko and is the eldest of five children. She quit high school before graduation and started singing at 19.
In early 2018, Aya Nakamura released Djadja—the first single from her second album—which stayed two consecutive weeks at number one on the French chart, and was later certified Diamond. The song quickly became a summer hit in France and soon became an international hit. She became the first French female artist to reach number one The song was also the first Francophone song since 2009 to reach the top of the Dutch charts, the last one being Alors on danse by Rwandese-Belgium artist Stromae.
In France, her first three studio albums (Diary intime, Nakamura and Aya) are certified platinum records. In a decade of her career, Aya Nakamura won several awards, including an NRJ Music Award and a Victoire de la musique. Her unique styled music continues to propel her well beyond France, finding audiences in West Africa, Europe, and Canada.
Nakamura is now a viral sensation with over 40 Million TikTok creations and +40 Billion TikTok views over 5 continents. ‘DNK’ showcases a unique style of lyrics that blends the use of Parisian argot, Arabic and Bambara, the Malian language of her parents, as well as bringing a fresh take on Afrobeats, Pop, R&B while deeply rooted in the Caribbean dance sounds of Zouk. The album features Puerto rican sensation Myke Towers, risings rapstars Tiakola & SDM, as well as West Indies acclaimed Zouk singer Kim.
At only 27 years old, multi-award-winning French-Malian superstar Aya Nakamura has already claimed her role as one of the most important figures in contemporary French music.
What is remarkable is that she’s not the exception. Across the world Afro pop and other Afro inspired music has been taking over the airways. If you would have speculated that a time would come when International musical icons such as Drake would fly over to Nigeria to record music with the likes of Wizkid, that thought would have been shot down. But now, this is slowly becoming a norm from Kelly Rowland who collaborated with Ayra Star to Beyonce who also collaborated with Wizkid, popstars have taken note and want to be a part of the afro pop sound.
Afro pop, Afrobeats, Afro fusion, generally African music has evolved rapidly taking over the airwaves transcending norms and borders. Artists like Burna Boythe first African act to sell out Madison Square Gardens—has understood that there is no need to imitate western music to capture the listenership of a global audience. Keeping it authentic and maintaining the sounds of Africa continue to be the ingredient that catapults many like Aya Nakamura to stardom.