36-year-old Ghanian rising art-world superstar Amoako Boafo, Nigerian Afrobeats star Davido, the poet Amanda Gorman and 97 others made the cut for the second annual 2021 TIME100 NEXT list.
The TIME100 Next list which is an expansion of TIME’s flagship TIME100 franchise highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future.
The list includes doctors and scientists fighting COVID-19, advocates pushing for equality and justice, journalists standing up for truth, and artists sharing their visions of present and future.
The youngest person on this list is 16-year-old entertainer Charli D’Amelio, who counts more than 100 million followers on TikTok. Among the eldest is 51-year-old Raphael Warnock, a Democratic Senator from Georgia, whose recent election represents “the dawn of a new South,” writes Rev. Bernice A. King, the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
Amoako Boafo is a rising art-world superstar.
The 36-year-old Ghanian artist’s work, characterized by bright colours and textured finger painting, highlights Black identity and the African diaspora with complexity and warmth: in the 2020 painting The Pink Background, for example, two men lean into each other as if posing for a photo, both clad in suits and standing before a rose-coloured backdrop.
This distinctive style has made him one of the world’s most in-demand artists and won raves from Kehinde Wiley and Kim Jones, the artistic director of Dior Men, who launched a collaboration with him in 2020, making Boafo the first African artist to develop a line with the French fashion house.
Perhaps just as significant is Boafo’s staunch unwillingness to being exploited by white collectors now hungry for Black creativity. Amid Boafo’s meteoric rise, his work has often been “flipped,” or resold quickly at a much higher price—a practice that can prevent artists from profiting from the huge windfalls of secondary sales.
In response, the artist has fought to establish more control over his work, both by buying it back and through creating a studio for local creatives in Accra. As a result, Boafo has sparked a larger dialogue about who really profits when Black art is handled by white gatekeepers. —Cady Lang
Davido is one of the biggest voices in Afrobeats because his music connects with people, often in ways that transcend his expectations. When he released the song “FEM” in 2020, a title that loosely translates to “shut up” in Yoruba, he didn’t know it would become a major #EndSARS protest anthem, as youth banded together to demand the government take action to end police brutality in Nigeria last October.
Officials responded by sending politicians to give speeches. We told the government to keep quiet unless they had something sensible to add—the ethos of “FEM” was directly relatable to that moment.
You can tell Davido puts 100% into every song he makes. And the results are clear: his album A Good Time surpassed a billion streams in 2020. Afrobeats is a worldwide phenomenon, and Davido is one of many Nigerian artists who has made that possible; now more and more artists, from Nicki Minaj to Young Thug, want to work with him.
Check out the full list from TIME100 Next 2021