Afrobeats or Afrobeat? Overtime the world has tried to divide these two into different sounds. Everyone knows what Hip-hop means, a lot of people know Latin-pop, but how many people truly know what Afrobeats is all about? We have taken upon ourselves to gather some facts about the musical style known as Afrobeats. Here are eight things you should know about Afrobeats.
WHAT IS AFROBEATS?
Afrobeats is an umbrella term for comtemporary music made in west Africa and the diaspora. The term was formed when U.K’s Dj Abarantee put an “S” behind the already known Afrobeat, since then the world has come to accept modern African Pop music as Afrobeats.
AFROBEAT VS AFROBEATS
Here is where we talk about the popular Nigerian musical legend Fela; the vibe enthusiast with an incredible knack for catchy tunes. His musical style composed of really interesting as well as lengthy instrumental intros. Afrobeat should have a lengthy history also, but to get straight to the point, Afrobeat started with that one man.
Now the more popular derivative of Afrobeat is Afrobeats. Surely you must know that there is a grand misconception surrounding these two. On face value it makes sense to compare the two, but a closer look will reveal otherwise. As of now, there are a couple of reasons why Afrobeat and Afrobeats cannot be compared; for one, Afrobeats(with an ‘s’), which is a derivative of Afrobeat(without an ‘s’) is not a genre of music, at least not at the time of writing, and even if it were made to be it would just be another for African Pop music.
Now this is where things get more interesting. Over time, the catchy pop tunes from Africa have generated waves of sometimes difficult-to-master body movements – and we say that out of experience. Although not as popular as the legendary Electric Slide a.k.a the electric boogie, some have achieved prominent statuses in their own rights. There is the Makossa from DR Congo, the Azonto from Ghana, the Zanku(leg work) and the Shaku shaku from Nigeria, the Malwedhe/idibala and the Vosho from south Africa, Kizomba from Angola, Mapouka from Ivory coast, and this is just mentioning a few. Afrobeats has created a totally different culture, a new world of dance, and the afrobeats community is thankful for it.
DRUMS AND AFROBEATS INSTRUMENTALS
An interesting fact is that unlike some other genres of music, Afrobeats is not one thing. In fact it cannot be because a wide range of songs have been covered under the umbrella of Afrobeats. At this point a layperson will be forgiven if they were to label any form of pop song that emanates from Africa as Afrobeats – lets clear this up now, it is not that simple. Afrobeats covers a range of tempos, conventions and rhythmic patterns. Most of the songs under Afrobeats operate at 120BPM, and while in the past the drum parts were mostly based on the clave, heavy autotune is now the most notable feature. The sounds are so diverse that one can only point to the fundamental aspects, artists have taken Afrobeats to different levels, stamping their unique identities on each and every song they make.
Afrobeats is sometimes described as Afrofusion, which can be defined as the combination of African music styles to contemporary music styles from other parts of the world. Some notable African musicians have described their style of music as Afrofusion including Davido and Burna boy.
Even as early as 1982, the the famous line “Ma Ma Se, Ma Ma Sa, Ma Ma Kossa” from Michael Jackson’s song, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” was adapted from Dibango’s Duala “Ma Ma Ko, Ma Ma Sa, Ma Makossa”, Africa’s “Soul Makossa”. Now artists from all over the world are spicing up their tunes with Afropop, and it only makes sense, if the King of Pop wanted some of that afropop, who are you not to?
HOW POPULAR IS AFROBEATS?
“Fall” by the Atlanta born Nigerian artist, Davido is the first Nigerian song to reach 100 million views on Youtube, his song is also the longest-charting Nigerian song in the Billboard history. The song peaked at #13 on the Billboard hot 100 on the 20th of april 2019 after charting for a record 21 weeks. Afrobeats is one of the fastest growing musical styles on streaming and airplay charts worldwide. So much that, Warner Music Group, one of the world’s largest recording label invested in it by signing a deal with Nigeria’s Chocolate City Entertainment lead by M.I. A whole host of other investors are already picking up interests and are investing in Afrobeats, as it is part of the overall global resurgence of the music industry’s fortunes of the back of streaming growth, led by Spotify and apple Music.
THE BIG NAMES
Over the years there have been a lot of artists that have been prominent in Afrobeats, artists shining the light that have led the other Upcoming artists and inspired the younger generations to take up an interest in Afrobeats music and continue in their legacy. From the Pioneer of Afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and King Sunny Ade, to Afrobeats artists like Deji Banjo A.k.a Dbanj to Wiz Kid, Davido, Mr Eazi and Fuse ODG, and now to Damini Ebunoluwa a.k.a Burna Boy. These artists have been the focal points in Afrobeats in their times, these are the artists that have brought Afrobeats to the world. There are also a lot of big female Afrobeats such as Tiwa savage, Seyi shay, Teniola etc
As we earlier said, it worth noting that Afrobeats is growing. Afrobeats stars are beginning to target foreign audience, particularly the American market and have recorded varying degrees of success. There are more and more collaborations with big international artist who have also taken an interest in Afrobeats, several sold out shows by Afrobeats artist around the world, and even popular music festivals have included Afrobeats acts.
As of now Burna Boy is considered as the poster boy for Afrobeats, and there are more than a thousands artist who are working towards becoming a big name in music including the young and outrageously talented artist, Rema.
Knowing these, you can confidently say that you know at least a little about Afrobeats, and you will not have to sit it out while your music savvy friends talk about music in general.