By: EHIDIAMEN EMMANUEL
“The curious beauty of African’s Music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope”, these were the words of Nelson Mandela. This unequivocally narrows down the irony behind the concept of Afrobeats in contemporary times.
Afrobeat intrinsically developing from Nigeria dating back from the years of military regime has been a source of shining light to Nigerians, a deep source of elation despite the difficulties surrounding the country. Afrobeats, in all its glory, has a transnational musical effect and is the driving force behind so many genres of music, including both urban and country music. Afrobeats, in all its glory, has a transnational musical effect and is the driving force behind so many genres of music, including both urban and country music.
A trip down memory lane sees Fela Anikulapo Kuti as the founding father and pioneer of the concept “Afrobeat”. Sir Fela was a monumental musician who doubled as a multi-instrumentalist and singer. He comes from the Southwestern part of Nigeria and came into prominence with his kind of music that infused both local and international influences. Having had a prior educational period in the United Kingdom, was able to incorporate both western and native influences into his brand of music. Hence, the conception of the word “Afrobeat” after his style of music as it combines the traditional West African Musical style (E.g. Yoruba highlight) and Western musical details including chanted vocals, intersecting rhythms e.t.c.
A new wave of Afrobeat is dawned upon us in recent times, and that is the inclusion of the concept of Afrobeat as pioneered by Fela Kuti into Pop music in Africa, introducing a new concept called AFROBEATS: An infusion of Afrobeat into Pop Music, Afrobeats has discovered colossal growth recently and it boils down to the advent of the digital age and globalization making music more accessible from anywhere on the globe.
The exposure of the concept of Afrobeat lately to a much wider and multinational audience has changed the landscape of the music business both financially and musically. With the advent of marketing in the digital age and the dynamic known as social media, music has become increasingly accessible.
Nigerian artists are finding their place on the international stage as what began as a relative concept has become widely recognized as a global phenomenon sparking discussions among African youth with popular and Western culture.
As a global phenomenon, the concept of Afro beats has changed in every aspect. Afrobeats at its peak saw artists breaking into the mainstream, seeing top stars win major music awards including Grammys, stage shows and performances. performing to sell-out shows on the world’s biggest stages, including the O2 Arena, Hollywood Bowl and even, more recently, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. In London with a capacity of 62,000 sold by Wizkid. On social media platforms around the world, Afrobeats songs have taken over and content creators are using them to improve their marketing and advertising.
Globally, Afrobeats has been well embraced by the biggest pop stars of the world, including Beyoncé who featured Wizkid and a number of other Afrobeats stars in her Grammy Nominated Album – Lion King: The Gift. Also, Justin Bieber has done some active remixes of Afrobeats song including with Omah Lay and Wizkid. Selena Gomez and Rema teamed up on the remix of “Calm Down” and had this particular single topping the charts globally and earning numerous international accolades.
In the UK, the genre Afrobeats has eaten deep into their musical lifestyle, as UK acts now seek to feature Afrobeats musicians to actively promote their songs due to the large market and listening ears Afrobeats artists draw. Afro-Nation is another exclusive show for Afrobeats artistes held in western countries with its inception in Portugal in 2019, it is the world’s biggest Afrobeat festival and it’s always highly anticipated in any city it is to be held.
Despite the success and achievements of Afrobeat, many people say they don’t know much about it or have never heard of it. Some may say that this genre of music has not yet reached all music lovers, but what is certain is that Afro music is slowly conquering the world.