Rock and hip-hop are descendents of African music, so it's not strange that it took artists like Crosby, Stills & Nash and Kanye West to write the 5 best songs about Africa. These 5 songs range from cheesy '80s odes to politically relevant tributes.
- "Under African Skies.” Garfunkel need not apply. Paul Simon’s singer-songwriter friend Heidi Berg gave him a copy of The Boyoyo Boys "Gumboots” and Simon subsequently went Africa crazy with his massively successful album, “Graceland.” This uplifting song, one of the best songs about Africa, features great harmonies by Linda Ronstadt and, along with the rest of the album, helped raise awareness of South African music.
- “Africa.” Hoping to find some “ancient melodies,” Toto, this soft rock band comprised of skilled session musicians, shows its true colors in this '80s synth-laden and calculated (but catchy) tribute to Africa. You’ve got to love a song that can rhyme company with Serengeti. Stuff like that makes this one of the best songs about Africa.
- “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” This ‘70s soul-inspired hip-hop Jay-Z collab finds Kanye West comparing the issue of conflict diamonds in Africa to the U.S. drug trade. West raps “though it's thousands of miles away, Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today.” Pretty legit subject matter for a mainstream rap artist. It's what makes West one of the best hip-hop artists around and makes this song one of the best songs about Africa.
- “Biko.” Peter Gabriel shed the prog of Genesis and hopped on the “world music” train along with Paul Simon in the 1980’s. This song, a tribute to deceased South African activist Steve Biko, features tribal rhythms and (strangely enough) bagpipes.
- “Marrakesh Express.” Graham Nash's calming voice recounts his trip on a train through Morocco where “cottons hang in the air” and there are “charming cobras in the square.” Like most Crosby, Stills and Nash songs, “Marrakesh Express” packs a punch due to the group’s signature vocal harmonies. It's probably the most famous Morocco-referencing pop song and is one of the best songs about Africa.