By Ferdinand Ekechukwu
Songs by Nigerian superstars like Burna Boy, Davido, Tems and Wizkid have made former US president Barack Obama’s 2020 Summer Playlist. The selection was shared by Obama last Monday. That the Obamas have a great taste in music is not new to their followers and aficionados. Sharing the list on his Instagram page, Obama explained that he and his family have spent the past few months listening to the songs curated in the playlist and he decided to give followers a feel of his summer playlist.
“Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to music with my family. I wanted to share some of my favorites from the summer –– including songs from some of the artistes performing at this week’s @DemConvention. As always, it’s a mix of genres that travels through various eras. I think there’s something in here for everybody. Hope you enjoy it,” he wrote.
Ghana’s Shatta Wale made his debut on the playlist with ‘Already’, the 2019 Beyoncé record he featured on, while Burna Boy, who recently released his new album “Twice As Tall” clinched a spot for guesting on British singer Jorja Smith’s ‘Be Honest’. Wizkid’s recent single, ‘Smile’, featuring American R&B singer H.E.R, also made the selection, as did Davido and Tems for appearing on the remix of Khalid’s ‘Know Your Worth’.
This year, Obama’s favourites also included songs by UK duo Young T & Bugsey as well as reggae icon Bob Marley. The playlist also features Chika, a Nigerian-American rapper, for ‘Crown’, her hit single. Other notable additions to the list include Rihanna and Drake‘s 2016 track “Work;” Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé‘s ‘Savage’ remix, Mac Miller‘s ‘Blue World’ Anderson Paak‘s ‘Lockdown’ and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Do I Do’.
The annual musical compilation is a routine which has become part of Obama’s social fun time memories since his time in the White House. African acts who have previously made Obama’s favourite songs include all-female supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique with their song ‘La Dame et Ses Valises’ in 2017, Nigerian Jidenna with ‘Classic Man’ in 2018. The ex-president’s list featured 53 songs spanning several genres including reggae, hip-hop, country, pop and rock.
Among other music stars, whose songs or collaborations featured on the list are Beyoncé, Rihanna, Bob Marley, OutKast, Nas, J. Cole, Nina Simone and Frank Ocean. The place of Afrobeats in world music discourse and categorisation has of late drawn wider attention from notable figures, same for its increasing likeness by international celebrities, namely Obama and his wife having Burna Boy and Rema on their playlist.
Even American Beyonce Knowles had made an entire album about afrobeats. The development further stretches what has been a remarkable run for the Nigerian music industry which has continued to gain international recognition.
The Nigerian Afro-pop acts are not the first crop of artistes to feature on Obama’s annual playlist. Recall in August 2019, the 44th President of the US shared his summer playlist and fast rising Nigerian Afro-pop singer, Divine Ikubor aka Rema was sitting at number 42 with ‘Iron Man’.
According to Obama, at that time, it was a sampling of which him and his wife, Michelle, has been listening to, “some new, some old, some fast, some slow. Hope you enjoy. We hope to record more wins as such in the coming year.”