French-Malian pop singer Aya Nakamura has garnered mainstream attention with her hit single, “Djadja,” an undeniably hard-hitting female empowerment record. Using a unique mix of R&B vocals and Afrobeats, her edgy, language-bending tunes buck respectability politics and, more importantly, sit atop the charts. Nakamura’s persistence in being herself—full-bodied, proudly dark-skinned and influenced by raw Caribbean sounds—is why last year we anointed her France’s “new queen of pop music.”
Today, she is the most streamed French female artist in the world and the first female artist to score seven top tens on the French singles chart. As her YouTube views and follower count continue to climb exponentially, this daughter of a griot’s main goal is to ensure that Black women’s stories are being told—authentically.