Aya Nakamura – The French Queen of Pop

Amassing over 400 million views on YouTube for one song, Aya Nakamura is an internationally renowned pop sensation. Born in Mali, and grew up in France, Aya’s music encompasses a blend of cultures and sounds, consistently placing France on the map in the pop genre. However, rumours of a potential performance at the Olympics opening ceremony have been criticised by some. 

Who is Aya Nakamura?

Aya is no stranger to the industry and dropped her first single ‘Karma’ at just 19 years old. Soon after she dropped ‘ J’ai Mal’ which the video garnered one million views and was a hit. Aya’s success continued and soared once she released the smash hit ‘Djaja’ in 2018.

Her unique sound was finally introduced to the international market and cemented her status as a French pop sensation.

Here are some quick-fire facts about Aya:

Born in Mali, she comes from a family of griots- West African poets of oral traditions, storytellers and musicians whose roles were to preserve their tribes.

She has surpassed a billion streams on Spotify making her the most listened to French female artist since 1961.

In 2018, her debut album ‘Nakamura’ was certified Diamond in France. (Sold over 10 million copies)

In 2020, she won Francophonic Female Artist of the Year.

In 2021, she won Artist of the Year.

She has won numerous awards, showing her determination and relentlessness to get to the top, despite the backlash she has received.

Why do we love her at 5678?

Aya creates defying sounds and lyrics that empower women. Her style blends pop, R&B, afrobeat and zouk, producing sounds which defies categorisation. She is in her lane and surely isn’t backing down any longer.

What type of music does Aya Nakamura make?

Her style is renowned, mixing pop, afro beats, R&B and Zouk

The Olympics controversy

With all the amazing things Aya has achieved this was not without its challenges.

With rumours circulating of a potential performance at the Paris 2024 Olympics Opening ceremony, far-right supporters were not happy. Les Natifs (the Natives), claimed they could not understand Aya’s singing, lyrics and revoked her nationality- claiming she is not French!

Although Aya uses slang in her songs, this is clearly a racist attack against her, which began the racial abuse.

In addition, they described her outfits as vulgar and risky.

Unfourtunately, women are often sexualised in the industry and it is unfortunate she receives this type of backlash.

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Although backed by President Emmanuel Macron, Les Natifs (the Natives), the far-right group, has continuously attacked her. Nakamura’s name invited boos into the crowds and she went to X to defend herself.

She wrote, “You can be racist but not deaf. That’s what hurts you! I’m becoming a number 1 state subject in debates, but what do I really owe you?”

My Opinion

Being a darksinned black woman in the music industry is often very difficult. Challenges such as colourism, racism and sexism all play a role in women climbing the ladder to success. 

And as one myself, I rarely saw women killing it in the game like Aya has. Seeing all the things she has achieved makes me so happy for the younger generation to have someone to look up to. Despite all these barriers, she is still here and will not back down anytime soon.

The racial abuse Aya has received is such a shame. She is a talented singer which I believe also helped put France on the map.

So, from 5678, we are rooting for you! People must be able to accept change. Talent is talent and as a black woman, Aya continueously breaks barriers which are often difficult to overcome. Keep going because I am sure this is not the last time we will hear Aya Nakamura’s name!

How you can support!

Speak out against racism

Stream her music

Advocate diversity and representation in the music industry

Spread positivity!

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Written by: Sharon Antwi