With his album titled ‘African Giant’ and the most Grammy wins, Burna Boy is a clear frontrunner. Some will invoke the name of Wizkid and his collaborations with both Drake and Beyonce.
Others still will mention Davido, whose 2020 album ‘A Better Time’ – if we’re being frank – was a lot better than Burna Boy’s ‘Twice As Tall’, which went on to win that year’s Best Global Music Album award at the Grammys.
But there’s another name that screams out for recognition: Diamond Platnumz.
Enter stage left
Tanzanian-born Naseeb Abdul Juma, better known by his stage name Diamond Platnumz, is arguably the most chaotic musician in Africa – which is exactly what makes him the biggest superstar on the continent.
Diamond takes no prisoners, moves like a maniac, dresses like a chameleon, and yet emerges the most hardworking and consistent artist south of the Sahara.
One famous story has Diamond flying to Kenya upon learning that American superstar Ne-Yo was in the country for the recording of the Coke Studio Africa show. Diamond booked himself into the same hotel as the ‘Miss Independent’ hitmaker and hung around day and night until he eventually managed to get Ne-Yo’s attention.
The pair released a monster of a jam titled ‘Marry you’ that now has more than 62 million views on YouTube. Diamond bagged that collaboration ahead of one of his most fierce fellow Tanzanian musicians – Ali Kiba – who was on the Coke show with Ne-Yo.
That’s the kind of boldness that defines Diamond Platnumz. Most African artists usually just throw their money at the stars they want to collaborate with.
Diamond started his YouTube channel 12 years ago this month. He’s since racked up more than 7.7 million subscribers and almost 2.2 billion views. He dropped his last song a month ago, and since then has garnered more than 80,000 new subscribers, according to YouTube tracker HypeAuditor.
Wizkid, on the other hand, created his YouTube channel in September 2014 and now has 2.8 million subscribers, with slightly more than 1.7 billion views.
Burna Boy’s YouTube channel, around since January 2018, now boasts 3.92 million subscribers and more than 2.1 billion views.
And Davido’s channel was created in November 2018 and has 3.4 million subscribers and 1.3 billion views.
Clearly, Diamond is a veteran entertainer with a larger fanbase than any of the others.
Building a legacy
When Boomplay recently released its list of the 19 most streamed African musicians on the platform, the top 10 spots – predictably – were dominated by Nigerian acts, with Diamond Platnumz coming in 10th right behind Ghana’s Black Sherif. There is no denying the impact Nigerian music has had on the continent.
The second half of that list, besides Diamond, entailed four other names that piqued my interest. Tanzanian musicians Rayvanny (13th), Harmonize (16th), Zuchu (18th), and Mbosso (19th). These four are among the biggest names in the East African music scene: Their songs amass millions of views in their first weeks of release, and they charge top dollar for performances.
The other thing they have in common is Diamond Platnumz.
Besides being the biggest star on the continent, Diamond has gone out of his way to give back to his country, taking all four off the streets and mentoring them under his record label Wasafi WCB. Harmonize and Rayvanny have since left the label and launched their own, but it is Diamond who made them who they are today.
By contrast, Davido’s DMW, Wizkid’s Starboy Entertainment or Burna Boy’s Spaceship Entertainment don’t have a single noteworthy name that comes to mind. Diamond has created — and may well leave behind — a bigger legacy than all three.
Last but not least, there’s the hit reality series Young, Famous and African on Netflix. Alongside his ex-girlfriend and Ugandan star in her own right Zari Hassan, Diamond practically runs the show. In both seasons currently out, he has emerged as a major player and antagonist, and possibly even the face of the show.
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