When French meet English, we call it FRENGLISH

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How collaborations between French and English speaking artists impact the global influence of African Music.

Credit : Youtube / No Love video visuals

“No love, no love. Outside is a cold word, cold word. But me I gotta stay strong… Greatness was a matter of time.”

These lyrics of the Nigerian singer Ayra Starr resonate powerfully over the sensual beat of the song No love released by the French Congolese rapper Ninho in his last album “Ni”. This is a collaboration we did not know we needed; it demonstrates how iconic it could be when an English and a French speaking African artists team up to deliver good music and make it more impactful. 

Ninho - No love feat. Ayra Starr (Clip officiel)

Both musicians are definitely familiar with this kind of collaboration. Ayra Starr featured on “Hypé” by the French Malian phenomenon Aya Nakamura aka the Queen of France. It could seem unusual to hear the Nigerian singer put her voice over Kompa and Zouk, two predominantly French-speaking musical genres. But knowing that Ayra Starr was born and grew up in the Republic of Benin, it then makes complete sense that she understands and is influenced by the French culture.

Aya Nakamura - Hypé feat. Ayra Starr (Clip Officiel)

Ninho on his side has invited another rising Nigerian star, Omah Lay on the song “Bad” also released on his album “Ni”. Omah’s voice and Afrobeats background adds a flavourish purity to Ninho’s flow. This is all sublimated by a music video shot in Ghana. We love this real pan africanist move. That is what makes this collaboration strong and we want more.

Ninho - Bad feat. Omah Lay (Clip Officiel)

In the past two years, there have been numerous notable musical collaborations between French and English-speaking African artists, reflecting a growing trend in the African music scene. They are expanding their reach across different linguistic and cultural audiences. 

The increase in these collaborations can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the advent of digital platforms like Spotify has made it easier for artists to reach global audiences and discover each other’s work. This has facilitated cross-border partnerships and the blending of diverse musical styles. Secondly, there is a growing appetite for African music worldwide, driven by the success of genres such as Afrobeats and Amapiano. This interest incentivizes artists to collaborate and tap into each other’s fan base, thereby increasing their international appeal​.

By merging different African sounds with global music trends, not only are these artists preserving and promoting their cultural heritage, they are also making it more accessible to international audiences. This has led to a wider recognition of African music on global charts and in mainstream media, enhancing its influence and visibility worldwide.

However, it is interesting to observe that most of these recent musical collaborations have featured Nigerian artists. This could be explained by the attractivity of the Afrobeats genre that gives an aura to these artists who are used to conquering the world and not afraid to take risks. On the other side, there is a real interest and admiration from these Nigerian artists for their French-speaking counterparts. Some of them like Adekunle Gold have expressed how they are willing to collaborate with French (with African origin) artists whose work they have been following and respect. 

Ultimately, these collaborations between the French and English-speaking African artists mark a significant evolution in the musical scene and they do more than just create new music; they foster cultural exchange, promote diversity, and elevate African music to new heights on the world stage. As artists continue to break linguistic barriers and blend their unique styles, the future looks promising for the continued global influence and recognition of African music. Now, collaborations involving artists who are directly from the continent need to be more encouraged. We don’t know about you, but we can already picture a featuring between the singer Asake and the rapper Didi B who are pure products respectively from Nigeria and Ivory Coast and, whose impact on the international scene is undeniable.