East Africa is home to the nations of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Mozambique. While each country has its own collection of music styles, the region has contributed to rap in many ways. Up-and-comer Abel Meri is one to watch, repping Ethiopia via the DMV. Here are 5 rappers repping East Africa with pride.
The Crenshaw legend was born Ermias Ashgedom to an African-American mother and an Eritrean father. He first visited in 2004 at the age of 18. His brother/ manager Black Sam and Nipsey traveled to Eritrea with their father in 2018.
Born Abel Tesfaye, The Weeknd is Canadian by birth and Ethiopian by blood. His parents moved to Toronto in the 1980s. He even donated money to the University of Toronto for an Ethiopian studies program.
1/2 of production duo Nez and Rio, Nesbitt “Nez” Wesonga is an artist/ producer from Chicago. His father is originally from the East African nation of Kenya and Nez has visited his father’s homeland. He recently made noise with the song “Wild Youngster” featuring ScHoolboy Q.
The “Caroline” rapper is from Portland, Oregon yet his heritage comes via Ethiopia and Eritrea. He rapped in his native Amharic for the outro of his song “Baba.”
Another Canadian making the list, K’naan was born Keinan Abdi Warsame in Mogadishu, Somalia. He may be most remembered for his huge crossover hit for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he came up as an underground rapper and poet.