Simply put, Afro music can be regarded as a song that makes use of African instruments, lingua, expressions, and is mainly performed by African musicians, attributed to sub-Saharan Africans. The expression “afro music” is an offshoot of the word “afrobeat.” Afrobeat is a popular genre of music that originated from Africa. This genre of music was created by a Nigerian known as fela anikulapo kuti, popularly known amongst his people as “abami eda,” a Yoruba word that means “THE STRANGE ONE.”
Fela was a multi-instrumentalist, composer, social and political activist, and a pan-Africanist. After experimenting with different sounds with his famous drummer, Tony Allen, he was able to create Afrobeat, which is mainly a combination of the highlife sound that originated from Ghana (a country in the western African region) in the 1920s and jazz, which is largely influenced by his experience and tutelage at the Trinity College of Music, London. Fela used it as a tool for social conscientization and political confrontation in an era of porous leadership and largely military dictatorship on the African continent. He was able to convey his messages all over the world with his popular band, “Egypt 8e0,” and drew so much attention to African culture and events happening around the continent.
Afrobeat over the years has inspired other genres of music, formally and informally. As much as this genre of music has been a popular one for years and enjoyed by many, it was still a subject of racial subjugation and was not well accepted like R&B, soul, jazz, funk, hip hop, etc until recently. Afrobeat has grown over the years and it’s now gradually penetrating the international market. International brands now endorse Afrobeat stars. Some exceptional Afrobeat artistes like Wizkid, Burnaboy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, etc., have succeeded in drawing western attention and commendations through their music, hence gaining international awards, plaques, filling popular international venues and having their songs on international charts. Afrobeat has grown beyond African music and it’s slowly on its way to becoming a global music. This is evident in the 62nd Grammy annual awards, in which an Afrobeat artiste, Burna Boy, won a Grammy award for his album “African Giant,” which is mainly an Afrobeat album in the category of Best World Music Album.
Beyonce, a popular international star in 2019, created an album which she titled “The Gift.” The album was used as a soundtrack to promote her movie “Lions King.” This album was primarily comprised of Afrobeat sounds and featured Afrobeat stars such as Wizkid, Burnaboy, Tekno, Mr. Eazi, and others.A popular song from the album “Brown Skin Girl” cliched her some awards at the 62nd annual Grammy awards. Contemporary Afrobeat stars like Wizkid have gone on to sell out popular halls in the UK and USA. The prestigious Royal Albert Hall was sold out by Wizkid in the year 2017. He went ahead to sell out the 02 arena in 2018, a staggering 20,000 capacity venue, and this created headlines for weeks globally. His colleague, Davido, achieved the same a year later.
Despite the success and achievements of afrobeat, many claim not to know much or have heard about the music genre. Some might say the music genre is still yet to get to the lips of every lip of music lover, but what is known for sure is that Afro music is slowly taking over the world.
Just recently, Wizkid’s new album, made in Lagos, has been topping charts globally, both on billboard charts and other credible music platforms across the world. The hit song from the album Essence debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been there for months. The song also scored a platinum sale in the USA and has been listed amongst the best 100 songs of the year 2021 by several magazines and reputable music brands. In the year 2021, Wizkid also sold out the 02 arena three times in no more than an hour, and this was a big win for Afrobeat as it brought the attention of the whole world to African music. Afrobeat Stars have appeared in international shows, in addition to selling out international venues, receiving endorsement from international brands, receiving heavy streams from reputable streaming platforms, and winning international awards. The daily show hosted by Trevor Noah, Tonight with Jimmy Fallon, NPR Tiny Desk, etc., has hosted the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, etc. Afro music has come to stay, and it only gets better from generation to generation. There has been a colossal development in this genre of music, and in the near future, Afro-music is taking over.