The sounds of Africa and the Caribbean are known across the world, and continue to garner more popularity day by day. Yet, for the first time ever, revered artists from both realms congregated in the melting pot of Miami to put on a two-day festival that fans will never forget.
Memorial Day Weekend in Dade County will never be the same after Afro Nation finally reached the U.S. The celebration of African and Caribbean music went down at loanDepot Park right outside of the heart of Miami. For its inaugural event in the states, Afro Nation tapped artists like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Shenseea and more to turn up with fans from around the globe.
The addictive bass from the speakers at Piano People stage greeted fans from the moment they stepped onto the festival grounds. There was so much for fans to do before people reached the main stage inside the stadium. Photobooths by Empire Africa and Hennessy had long lines full of first-time attendees from the beginning of the day until the end of the night. Ciroc held an exclusive tasting of its new flavor Honey Melon for those who were old enough to sip. Let's not forget about all the tasty food trucks full of various dishes from Jamaica to Africa.
With two stages to choose from, fans were able to dance and vibe out to performances by some of the best acts in afrobeats, amapiano and reggaetón like Asake, CKay, Rema, Major League DJz, Libianca and more. Here are some of the best moments from Afro Nation in Miami.
Burna Boy brought out Black Sherif
Burna Boy was the headliner for Saturday night, and the entire stadium nearly filled to capacity to watch him perform. He opened with "Science" and continued his set by performing a mix of his past hits and other songs off his recent album Love, Damini. Before he closed out with not one but two epic performances of "Last Last," Burna Boy surprised the crowd by bringing out Ghana's own Black Sherif to deliver their joint effort "Second Sermon" (Remix). Sherif, who performed at his own set earlier that day, was extremely hype to be in Miami for the first time ever.
"It was crazy," Sherif told iHeartRadio about his first experience at Afro Nation Miami. "Most of the songs I performed were on my album The Villain I Never Was which I dropped back in October."
Mavado and Sech represented for the Caribbean
Mavado is a Jamaican legend in the dancehall world and Panamanian sensation Sech is a prominent voice in reggaetón. While they rep different countries, they both brought the vibes from the beaches by the Caribbean Sea to the main stage at Afro Nation. On Saturday, the We The Best artist kicked off his set with "So Special" before moving on to familiar bangers like "Weh Dem a Do" and other classics from his lengthy catalog. Meanwhile, Sech hit the main stage with a full team of dancers on Sunday and opened with "Se Le Ve." The Rich Music rapper and his squad delivered energetic renditions of his well-known tracks like "Relacion" and "Volando" before he slowed it down and pulled out his keyboard to play his breakthrough hit "Otro Trago." Both artists were truly able to connect with their day-one fans in the crowd while recruiting new followers at the same time.
The ladies were the life of the party
Of the 30 artists on the lineup for the weekend, only nine of them were female and they had the most active sets of the weekend. At the main stage, Nissi Ogulu, the sister of Burna Boy, the first artist to perform on Saturday and she knocked it out of the ballpark. With the support of her live band, she performed songs like "Gravity" and "Overthinking" along with a cover of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." The following day, Ghanaian singer Gyakie opened the main stage. Over at the Piano People stage, the ladies gave fans the ultimate show that they didn't get inside the stadium. The UK's Skyla Tylaa, South Africa's DBN Gogo, sisters TxC, South African artist Kamo Mphela, Eswatini-born DJ Uncle Waffles and afrobeats artist Cuhdeejah all delivered unforgettable sets. DJ's like Uncle Waffles, for example, not only curated the vibes from the booth but she also hit the stage and busted out a lively routine with her squad of dancers.
"It was overwhelming at first," Skyla Tylaa said about her experience. "but overall it was an amazing experience. It was something I can't even put into words. The vibe and the energy on the Piano People stage was crazy."
The women of Afro Nation were the heart beat that kept the party alive all day and all night. Yet, there was one woman in particular that really saved the day.
Shenseea made TWO surprise appearances
Shenseea really made an impact at Afro Nation. The Jamaican artist showed up to fill in for Beenie Man, who was forced to pull out of his set last minute due to travel issues. Nonetheless, ShenYeng did the damn thing on the main stage and even honored Beenie Man by performing their song "Henkel Glue." From there, the Alpha singer belted out other hits like "Blessed," "Good Comfort" and her latest single "Curious." Fans thought they had seen the last of Shenseea, but she managed to make her way back to the stage towards the end of Fireboy DML's set. After he performed hits like "Peru," the dancehall artist joined Fireboy to deliver their collaboration "Diana" together. It's safe to say Shenseea nearly stole the show at Afro Nation.
Wizkid shut down the main stage with BNXN
Wizkid had the most fire performance of the night, literally. With fire burning on the screen behind him, Big Wiz descended from the tall staircase down to the helm of the stage as he opened his set with "Bad To Me". He moved on to other jams like "Abracadabra" (Remix) and "Fever," which had everyone in the crowd dancing. He even shouted out Kevin Lyttle by interpolating "Turn Me On" into "Come Closer." Midway through his performance, Wiz welcomed his good friend BNXN to perform their collaboration "Mood." It was a feel-good moment that brought a smile to everyone who was watching. Of course, the Nigerian singer had to close out with his international hit "Essence".