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Afrobeats-Cutting across cultures and languages


“Music is from Africa and it is a universal language, you don’t need to understand the lyrics of the song to feel the music or love the music.”

The rapid evolution of Afrobeats is not a coincidence nor a fluke. With patience, consistency and determination, the sound is gaining its ground in the frontiers of the global music scene.

The might and power this sound possesses have been able to unite people of diverse cultures, languages, beliefs, doctrines, customs, traditions and philosophies. This sound knows no taste for the difference in varieties of customs and traditions that are in existence, as it is a sound that embraces all.

Afrobeats is a kind or genre of music that has been patiently waiting to grab its opportunity in order to be a force to be reckoned with in the music scene. When the chance arose, it latched on; there’s no end in sight to the genre’s incredible growth.

The origin of Afrobeats can be traced to the western parts of Africa, precisely Ghana and Nigeria. It is a sound that germinated from popular genres of music such as highlife, jazz and Fuji. As the musical world started interacting, thereby creating a form of bond and synchronization with this sound, they began to draw inspiration from the western genres of music such as hip-hop, reggae, dancehall and rock.

Having drawn inspiration from diverse sounds and varieties of genres of music from different parts of the world, this sound has stuck to its origin as a base to create a musical formula. This has then resulted in the creation of a compact melodious sound, which now has a global embrace.

In order to drive the tentacles of Afrobeats to the far ends of the world, different African artists are using their vocals and recordings to draw attention to this spectacular kind of sound. These artists can be described as the backbone through which Afrobeats has been able to spread globally.

African artistes, mostly from Nigeria and Ghana, from the western part of Africa, are really using the musical talent they possess to push this sound into the mainstream of the musical space. With these talents, which is influenced by the melodious Afrobeats sound, other artists from the western parts of the world are now finding comfort, credibility and reliance in the sound.

A popular Nigerian artiste, Ayodeji Balogun, known as Wizkid, is a living testimony of how Afrobeats is being greatly accepted globally. His commitment and dedication to push African culture into the mainstream of the world have been enhanced by the possibility of the Afrobeats sound.

Wizkid, as he is called, has toured in nearly every country in the world. Even in countries where they don’t understand the lyrics of his songs, he has sold out shows and concerts. The 02 Arena and the Royal Albert Hall in London are some of the venues he sold out. These venues were filled to the maximum capacity and fans had to wait outside the venue because they couldn’t get tickets to enter the venue due to overcrowding. With these achievements, it has really shown that Afrobeats is indeed a kind of music that has no language.

The widespread nature of Afrobeats has also enabled music collaborations between African and Non-African artists. American, British and Jamaican artists such as Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Drake, Ty Dollar$, Skepta, Tinie Tempah, Vybz Kartel etc., have done collaborations with Wizkid. This shows that Afrobeats is being accepted and recognised by the top notch in the music realm.

With these collaborations, cultural exchange is possible where we get to see people learning from other cultures. These artists have created a kind of platform that ensures a voluntary co-existence between people of different cultures and traditions.  These cultural exchanges have been made possible through the exchange of lyrics, where a particular artiste tends to include the dialect of his language and also from the region he hails from. This is done in songs that might be structured on an English based lyrical platform.

Wizkid is known to be a great admirer of this kind of style, as he often uses the mixture of his ethnic language in combination with the English language when he composes a song. This is what the Afrobeats is really about; the ability to mix diverse sounds together and make it a neutral one which then sounds unique from other kinds of sounds. With this mixture of languages, there is cultural exportation and people from different parts of the world get to know more about a particular culture and language.

Caption: Wizkid performing live
Photo credit: Micheal Tube creations

In an interview with Channel4News, he praised the African culture and how Afrobeats as a sound has been able to push into the mainstream of the world. He expressed how people are now seeing the African culture as worthy of being celebrated and embraced through the promotion of the sound globally. He said, “Music is from Africa and it is a universal language, you don’t need to understand the lyrics of the song to feel the music or love the music.”

He expressed his mind that music is like a weapon that can be used to fight against any kind of oppression. “Music itself is liberation and can be regarded as a movement that should be used to unite the world and spread love globally.” He added that “so much is beautiful about Africa and with the Afrobeats as a sound, we can push Africa to be seen and perceived as a place to be, not the wrong impression some people have about Africa being a jungle filled with animals.”

The success and global embrace Afrobeats has amassed by bringing and uniting the world through its sound and creating a kind of language that is universal, shows that it is really going beyond borders and you don’t have to be an African, American, Spanish, Irish, British or any other part of the world to enjoy this music.

This sound is here to stay and it is uniting the world.

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