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The rise of African R&B: inside the Spotify-COLORSxSTUDIOS collaboration

todayOctober 30, 2023

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Sub-Saharan Africa has been a region long celebrated for its vibrant rhythms and dynamic musical contributions. But there’s a particular genre that has recently been capturing hearts and drawing international attention — R&B. As many aficionados would be aware, the flagship playlist, “Tantalizers,” has already spotlighted numerous artists who have mastery over this genre. But this was just the beginning.

The recent collaboration between Spotify and COLORSxSTUDIOS has taken this celebration of African R&B to a new level. For those unfamiliar, COLORSxSTUDIOS is not your everyday music platform. It uniquely blends the audacity of music with the simplicity of visuals — artists perform against monochrome backdrops, ensuring the focus remains on their artistic prowess. Their flagship offering, A COLORS SHOW, is now taking a special route, courtesy of Spotify.

This partnership wasn’t just about the visual or auditory experience; it delved deeper. In a recent event in Nairobi, Spotify and COLORS went beyond the digital sphere, crafting a space for budding and established songwriters, artists, and producers to collaborate. Over the course of three days, 18 talents from the African diaspora converged in Nairobi, leading to a creative mélange.

So, what does it take for successful collaboration in this setting? According to some of the participants:

  • Bien emphasizes vulnerability and maintaining an open heart and mind.
  • Karun believes in mutual understanding and finding the middle ground.
  • Xenia Manasseh suggests risk, trust, and openness are the ingredients of magical collaborations.
  • Manana reminds artists to prioritize music over ego.
  • And for NNAVY, inspiration encapsulates a successful session.

Many artists also shared their takeaways from the songwriting camp:

  • Lisa Oduor-Noah urges fellow artists to be perpetual learners, respecting diverse melodic qualities that stem from various cultural backgrounds.
  • Zowie Kengocha learned to embrace risks and freestyle without the fear of making errors.
  • Maya Amolo encapsulated her experience in three words: “Collaboration is everything.”

Producers weren’t left out:

  • Ukweli found renewed passion to collaborate with African artists.
  • Lukorito emphasized the importance of staying true to one’s unique identity during collaborations.
  • M3, , highlighted the joy of collaboration and the sheer joy of witnessing an idea morph into a perfected piece.

And if the words of Titose are anything to go by, it wasn’t just about the music. The beauty of Kenya, the support from the Spotify and COLORS team, and the interaction with diverse talents made it a holistic, transformative journey.

In a nutshell, the Spotify-COLORSxSTUDIOS collaboration has not just highlighted the depth of talent in African R&B but has also set the stage for more harmonious collaborations. It’s a testament to the fact that when diverse talents come together under a singular passion, magic happens. Africa is not just a hotbed of talent; it’s now becoming the torchbearer for collaborative music innovation.


Written by: HYFIN

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