Blogged by Keytron and Simone
The world is finally catching up to Afrobeats and Amapiano music.
The Afro Nation Festival made its inaugural Miami debut over Memorial Day weekend at LoanDepot Park (formerly Marlins Park), bringing in tens of thousands of music lovers eager to hear sounds from Africa and the diaspora. With acts like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Asake, Rema, CKay and other hitmakers, it was only expected that the vibrant vibes would be unmatched.
Day one’s headliner was crooner Burna Boy who electrified the audience with his bangers, captivating both his day ones and newer fans. Early in the day, we caught up with singer Nissi, who is not only carving her own musical journey but also grew up in the same house as the Nigerian superstar. She casually confirmed that she’s Burna’s little sister.
“We are goofy and grew up doing the most random things. He wasn’t Burna Boy for a long time. He was just Damani,” said Nissi.
When it comes to pressure to achieve a specific level of success just because of her brother’s fame, Nissi says there is none.
“I think because we kind of have our own paths and we just rock as siblings, that never crosses our minds. But people probably do think about it, and that’s fine,” she shared.
Nissi, who describes her sound as non-conformance–meaning she doesn’t follow trends–also told us what the vibes are like in the studio when she’s making music, describing it as “hot.”
“In my experience, I think we all have a good time,” she told us.
Despite being “just Damani” to his sister, the crowd’s reaction proved that Burna is now so much more. He performed hit tracks like “Ye,” “On the Low” and “Kilometre.” The crowd danced, jumped around and sang along to every lyric as Burna held the mic towards the crowd, ending the night with last summer’s anthem, “Last Last.”
“Have to say bye, bye o,” he sang as he waved goodbye to his fans before exiting the stage. As for what’s next for Burna? The artist just dropped his latest single, “Sittin’ On Top Of The World,” which samples Brandy’s 1998 hit.
Mr. Money, better known as Asake, also brought the big vibes on day one of the festival with an electrifying performance–literally coming out of his clothes and shoes–performing hits like “Sugnba” and “Joha.”
Dripped in a cardigan and blinged-out jeans, CKay was introduced to the crowd as Africa’s #1 boyfriend, and based on the crowd’s response, the DJ was right. CKay performed his hits “Love Nwantiti,” “Emiliana,” and “Hallelujah.”
We caught up with him after his set and he explained how he got his title.
“It came from one continent personalizing all of my personal experiences as their own. That’s how I became the boyfriend of everyone. Let’s say I go through a breakup and I make a song about it [and] the whole Africa connects with that breakup, so it’s like I broke up with the whole Africa.”
Blacqbonez, who took the stage alongside CKay, making this his first U.S. performance, told us taking the stage “was like making history.”
Outside the arena held a separate stage, the Piano People Stage, which spotlighted the sounds of South Africa. Leading the way was the promising talent, Miami’s DJ AYA, who ignited the atmosphere with a dynamic set. The crowd couldn’t resist grooving to the infectious sounds he fused with familiar R&B hits. We witnessed attendees proudly waving their native flags, adding an extra touch of excitement by blowing whistles in harmony with the music, and freely expressing themselves throughout the captivating nearly two-hour set.
Later in the day, amapiano fans caught explosive sets from Focalista, Skyla Tylaa, and Musa Keys.
The “princess of amapiano,” Uncle Waffles, was the stage’s headliner and not only had the crowd rocking but also served face and her signature dance moves as she bodied the turn tables.
Throughout the two-day festival, the Piano People Stage also hosted major acts like Major League DJz, TXC, Kamo Mphela and newcomer Cuhdeejah.
On day two, fans enjoyed explosive performances by Shenseea, Rema, Fireboy DML, Wizkid and more on the main stage.