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Interesting Facts and History of Afrobeats Music in West Africa

Afrobeats, also called Afropop or Afro-fusion, is taking the music table by storm. It has left the West African music scene in other parts of the world. Afrobeats is a blend of party sounds drawing inspirations mainly from Nigeria and Ghana.

Just recently, in 2019, Beyonce released her album ‘The Lion King: The Gift,’ and she tagged it a love letter to Africa.’ Also, in her statement, she says, “She wants it to be original to what makes African music beautiful.”

The globally acclaimed soundtrack is a typical Afrobeats genre featuring many Nigerian Afrobeats musicians.

History of Afrobeats Music in West Africa

Afrobeats shares almost similar names and characteristics with Afrobeat with an omission of these. Generally, Afrobeats is a recent development as Afrobeat has been in existence since the 1960s.

Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician, instrumentalist, and bandleader, was the brain behind Afrobeat. It combines Nigerian and American sounds.

Afrobeat, however, was introduced around 2000 to 2010, originally from Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and Ghana. It came about to give a name to the diverse genres of present-day West African pop music.

You can say that it is predominantly West African as the main style originates from Nigeria and Ghana. Afrobeats genre combines Naija beats, R&B, highlife, hip hop, hiplife, and juju music.

DJ Abrantee, a Disk Jockey based in London, is accredited to have invented the name ‘Afroobeats’ in his quest to offer the sound to his spectators in Britain.

However, in 2016, Drake, who featured Nigerian musician Wizkid in his hit single ‘One Dance,’ brought the limelight to Afrobeats. The superstar used his influence to draw billions of attention to the music genre.

Interesting Facts about Afrobeats Music in West Africa

Afrobeats have indeed come to stay. Many musicians are switching to this genre of music because of its recent global approval.

Made available below are some fascinating facts you need to know about this new trend – Afrobeats;

  • Afrobeats sounds have more musicians from Nigeria and Ghana than from other parts of the world.
  • In Nigeria, the most famous female Afrobeats vocalist is Tiwa Savage. In 2018, MTV Europe awarded her the Best African Act – a feat worthy of praise in a world of music with male dominance.
  • Wizkid became the most acknowledged Afrobeats singer in 2016 with his hit with Drake’s ‘One Dance,’ which was the most played song at the time on Spotify. His official nickname is ‘Star Boy.’

Notwithstanding, 2011 was the first time he gained much popularity after releasing his album, ‘Superstar.’ In 2014, he made one million followers on Twitter, making him the first Nigerian artist to have attained that fame.

  • In 2011, Davido became very popular with his first album, ‘Omo Baba Owolo.’ His second album, ‘The Baddest’ was another limelight.

In 2014 and 2018, at the BET Awards, he won the Best international Act making him first Africa to have been present to receive his award.

  • Afrobeat is sometimes confused with Afrobeats, but the significant difference is that Afrobeat is highly political, whereas Afrobeats combines West African and London sounds. Its primary style is highlife.
  • Recently, there has been growing popularity among Afrobeats artists than other music genres, especially in West Africa.
  • World acclaimed artists like Chris Brown have collaborated with Nigerian artists like Mr. Eazi, Tekno, and Davido to make many songs.
  • The biggest Afrobeats festival is ‘Afro Nation. The event annually brings artists and enthusiasts of Afrobeats, dancehall, R&B, and hip-hop, among others, to one venue with exciting shows.

Over the years, the event has featured stars from different countries, including South African Moonchild Sanelly, Innoss’B of Congo, Wizkid of Nigeria, and Navy Kenzo of Tanzania.

  • In London, in the chart 2012 UK singles, D’Banj’s song ‘Oliver Twist’ was made 9th out of the top ten. That very debut, as well as the ‘Bestie’ track by Brit Yungen, which made the top ten lists in 2017, is evidence that the world is happily consuming Afrobeats.
  • Afrobeats combine party sounds, a fusion of local accents, slangs, and beat from West Africa to hits of America.
  • While Afrobeat lyrics are political, Afrobeats lyrics combine African and contemporary music genres in one piece.
  • DJ Abrantee, a Ghanaian based in America, is the pioneer of Afrobeats around the 2000s, giving it the name.

He said the idea came from Afrobeat and was on the verge of figuring out a name for the almost strange genre of music to United Kingdom audiences.

  • Afrobeats have inspired many dance styles and music subgenres like Azonto dance, kukere, skelewu, Etighi, Alkayida, Sekem, Banku Music, and more.
  • Most popular Afrobeats artists include WizKid, Mr. Eazi, Rema, Tiwa Savage, Davido, Ice Prince, Don Jazzy, P-Square, D’Banj, Castro, Fuse ODG, May7ven, Davido, Iyanya, Burna Boy, Janet Jackson, and lots more.

Who is the most prominent Afrobeat artist in Africa?

A lot of African musicians are taking to international stages because of their innovative creativity and talents.

However, as of 2021, the top 10 Afrobeat artists in Africa are;

  • Burna boy
  • Wizkid
  • Diamond Platnumz
  • Davido
  • Fally Ipupa
  • Tiwa Savage
  • Sarkodie
  • Yemi Alade
  • 2Face Idibia
  • Sho Madjozi

Who created Afrobeat in Nigeria?

Fela Kuti created Afrobeat around the 1960s. Afrobeats is entirely political with the lyrics, while the sound combines highlife, funk, fuji music, and jazz.

Where is Afrobeat most popular?

Afrobeat is most prevalent in Ghana and Nigeria, through other parts of the world enjoy the music genre. Artists from the United Kingdom are also recently adapting this genre.

Final Words

Just like Rema, one of Nigeria’s famous Afrobeats stars, would say, ‘I am the future,’ Afrobeats is truly the future. Not just for Africa entertainment but the world at large.

Afrobeats artists do not just seek recognition because their works speak for them. It has brought a smile and a sense of belonging to African kids home and abroad while continuously inspiring potential artists.

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