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Here’s All You Need to Know about Afrobeats in Three Minutes

by Dikos Nestaa

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If you’re not sure what Afrobeats is all about, no worries, we got you covered. The first thing to bear in mind is this; Afrobeat is not Afrobeats.  Afrobeats is an evolution of Afrobeat. We’ll explain.

There has been an undefined argument about what Afrobeats is and is not. Afrobeat, not Afrobeats originated from Ghana in the 1920s and was made famous late 1960s by the late Fela Kuti. Fela Kuti brought the Afrobeat wave to Nigeria and experimented with different contemporary music like Jazz and Funk at the time. 

Fela was a maestro and a revolutionary rolled into one strong persona. Due to his exposure outside Nigeria to politics, he transformed his music to stand for black power, highlight injustice home and abroad. Fela was fearless and the people at the time resonated with his music all over the world.

Then Afrobeat grew into Afrobeats as time passed, due to a lot of different influences. Afrobeat gave birth to Afrobeats which houses Afro Pop, Afro-Fusion, AfroHouse and many others over the years. Afrobeats blends Pop, R&B, dancehall, Fuji, Juju, highlife and many others quite well.  The 2000s welcomed the era of Afrobeats and it has grown drastically from Lagos and Accra to US Billboard Charts. 

The Rise

Afrobeats has grown over the decade and you can’t deny it has taken over the airwaves. You can’t also deny that Beyonce’s Lion King Album was a huge unveiling of the Afrobeats sound to the rest of the world. The album featured African acts like Nigeria's Wizkid, Tekno, Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi and Tiwa Savage, as well as Cameroon's Salatiel, and South Africa's Busiswa and Moonchild Sanelly.

Nigeria’s Wizkid coupled with his many successes, in 2016, became more internationally known after being featured on Drake’s “One Dance”, the song was on Billboard’s Top 100. He became the first Nigerian artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the first song to hit one billion plays on streaming service Spotify.

Prior to now, Afrobeats has been widely accepted in different parts of the world and social media made this possible. YouTube is still one of the biggest influences of showcasing this African sound to the world. Not only did people get to watch and listen to songs from Wizkid, Fuse ODG, Davido, but it also created opportunities for African artists to host shows in different parts of the world and sell out tickets. 

Afrobeats Dance

Afrobeats is still birthing beautiful dance moves that are bound to go viral. The Azonto dance from Ghana was a sensation when Sarkodie and E.L.’s released U Go Kill Me in 2011. That’s not all.

In 2012, Nigerian musician, Iyanya released ‘Kukere’ an Afropop song that was accompanied by a dance, same as the song title. The dance involves leaning forward with locked knees and lifting each leg up and down to initiate the age-old shaking of the backside. You’re free to do whatever you want with your hands. 

Lately, Zanku has taken over the Afropop dance scene with new Afrobeats artists like Nigeria’s Zlatan Ibile and Naira Marley taking over the street scene with new Afrobeats dances. 

The beauty of Afrobeats lyrics is the use of indigenous language and Pidgin English in songs yet embraced by non-Africans. Local phrases, idioms, and dances are infused into the songs; this makes Africans in Diaspora feel at home when any Afro-pop song comes on.

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