Nigerian music is taking the lead in Africa, and the world is listening and getting addicted. I can categorically tell you for free that Afrobeat has become a worldwide wave. The global village now enjoys the sounds emanating from Nigeria and yearns for more. Nigerian Artistes on their part are leaving no stone unturned in serving it hot for the global audience who have fully accepted the genre, and we have the frontrunners who started by first creating the fan-base back home.
The global searchlight is now focused on Nigerian music that even American Artistes confess to not just by collaborating with Nigerian acts, but gradually adopting and infusing Afrobeat sound on their songs. We’ll be highlighting below the Nigerian Artistes that are major promoters of Afrobeat who helped popularize it on the international scene;
The concept of the genre Afrobeat was created by the late Legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti which is where the new generation Artistes drew their inspiration from. The sound is a mix of different instrumentals which consists of jazz, and Highlife. Remember Fela’s “Zombie ” album earmarked the beginning of the music genre called Afrobeat.
Afrobeat didn’t just cross the shores of Africa, the foundation was laid by Great Fela Anikulapo Kuti who adored and valued in high esteem the Africanness in us, and carried it with pride and honour. The Eminent and Legendary “Fela Anikulapo Kuti” set the stone rolling, and created an enabling environment for the modern day generation Artistes who modernized and standardized Afrobeat to thrive on the global scene. Permit me to say that, the accolades go to the inventor who laid the foundation of the music genre. Fela saw the future of Nigerian music, and I can honorably say that, Fela is Afrobeat and Afrobeat is Fela.
The legendary 2Baba has contributed his own quota in pushing Afrobeat across the African borders. Remember 2Baba was the first Nigerian Artiste to win the MTVBase MAMA award for Best African Act when the media station launched its base in Africa. We should not forget how he set the pace for the new generation Artistes to follow.
Koko master D’banj unlocked the international door for which Afrobeat passed through to get to the global audience. The release of “Oliver Twist” by D’banj happens to be one of the breakthroughs that gave Afrobeat the recognition it has today due to the massive influence it had on the world music scene. The song took the international scene by rage in such an outstanding way that “Oliver Twist” became a worldwide hit that an American rapper made a cameo appearance on the visual.
The Donjazzy produced song “Oliver Twist” was at interval played during a basketball game between Brazil and Russia at a basketball event in 2012 at the London Olympics.
Debates about Afrobeats intrusion into the American market trails back to the defunct music duo Don Jazzy and D’banj after the release of “Oliver Twist” and the huge success it recorded internationally, and D’banj’s affiliation with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music later on.
Tiwa Savage was branded the Queen of Afrobeat by the New York Times when she released her fourth studio album “Celia”. News had it that she courts a worldwide audience both in America and the Caribbean with the album. Her Afrobeat song “Koroba” off the project is a proof with the global attention it received and Tiwa got nicknamed, ‘the international Afrobeat star’. According to Yahoo online publication, ‘The 41-year-old has been presented to America as a part of the “next musical revolution brewing in Africa’.
Afrobeat resonates in Tiwa and Tiwa exudes Afrobeat through her song lyrics. During an interview with Hot 97 in August 2020, she told the presenter that, “The Afrobeat movement] is reuniting and building a bridge between Caribbean music, between music from Haiti, and hip-hop, and soul. Uniting all music around the world with Black origin; just knowing it all literally started from Africa”.
There is really no argument about Tiwa’s contribution to promoting Afrobeat internationally. Her songs “Kele Kele Love”, “Eminado”, “My Darling”, “Lova Lova”, “Malo”, “Allover”, “Attention”, “If I Start To Talk” and her recent rave making single “Somebody’s Son” featuring American singer Brandy are enough proof that the African Queen has pushed Afrobeat to the world stage.
Her nickname ‘Mama Africa’ is already all shades of Afrocentrism. Yemi is an ardent African culturalist. She is an epitome of African women and represents Africa in her appearance. Everything about her, her music, her costume and her lyrics laced with African dialects are all about Africa.
Yemi is one Nigerian Artiste that always infuses her cultural contents in her songs, and this has made her exceptionally different. Yemi breeds Africa in every sense of it, an imminent Afrobeat Superstar. Yemi is unapologetically African and proud.
Her worldwide status increased momentously when she released her breakthrough single “Johnny”, an Afrobeat song which went viral worldwide. The visual particularly the costume further portrayed African culture in a way that drew the attention of the American Music Academy in 2019 and was considered for a Grammy Awards nomination, and she also went home with the award for Best Female Act at the MTV African Music Awards.
Yemi was once asked during an interview what she thinks about different genres being sold under this umbrella term, and she said
“What can we do? I was born into a world where afrobeats is the major genre, and [musicians] have all created our own type of genre [within it]. I personally think anyone who is fighting about the fact that we’re all in the afrobeats genre is just hitting their head against the wall because you can’t fight the truth. If you think you’re not of the afrobeats lineage, why don’t you just create your own lineage”.
The avid singer through her music keeps making continuous efforts in promoting Afrobeat using her Africanness.
The release of Burna Boy’s “African Giant” album signaled another huge win for Afrobeat on the international scene. The lead single off the album “Wonderful” started the job, followed by “Dangote” and “Another Story” and it wasn’t up-to a year until the super amazing album was released, and it bagged a Grammy Awards nomination bringing his dream of becoming a Grammy winner to a close. Tracks like “Anybody”, “Gbona”, “On the Low”, “Killin’ Dem”, “Omo” and “Collateral Damage” gained massive airplay internationally than at home becoming the Afrobeat songs to do exceptionally well globally. Burna did not just champion the course that promoted Afrobeat, but the “African Giant” album helped in the massive expansion of the genre which gave it a consolidated structure internationally.
Burna has been standing up for Afrobeat over the years considering the fact that his maternal grandfather was once the Manager Great Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the legendary Afrobeat inventor. We’ve seen him perform in one of the Felabration concerts with just pants mimicking the Afrobeat legend. Oluwa Burna has done so well by getting the world to listen to Afrobeat with the way his popularity has spread in every nook and cranny of the world.
Starboy Wizkid is the most decorated Nigerian Artiste in recent years. He has contributed immensely in positioning and promoting Afrobeat on the international scene. He championed it through his efforts when Afrobeat was just a Nigerian thing. Afrobeat recorded another big break after D’banj’s “Oliver Twist” then Wizkid featured Tyga on “Show You The Money” remix, Chris Brown on his “African Bad Girl” song. Big Wiz later incorporated Drake into the “Ojuelegba” remix alongside the British rapper “Skepta” after the Canadian born American rapper heard and fell in love with the tune. Drake’s love for Afrobeat grew and “One Dance” featuring Wizkid was born which rumor had it that Wizzy wrote the song. They both went on to collaborate on “Come Closer” another influential Afrobeat smash hit.
Alicia Keys confessed that she has and plays Femi Kuti’s album. She also made a video of herself vibing to Wizkid’s ‘’Ojuelegba” which she posted on Social media. Credit should be given to Starboy for his continuous roles in catapulting Afrobeat to the mainstream international scene. Wizkid on a supreme level has succeeded in garnering an international following since the release of his “Made In Lagos” album.
Davido is considered as the Afrobeat Ambassador due to his wide range of musical abilities. If you’re an observant Nigerian music lover, you may have noticed that whenever Davido features on international collaborations, he opts for beats produced by a Nigerian producer to get foreign Artistes to be familiar with the Nigerian sound.
OBO over the years in his music journey and in promoting Afrobeat has seen him draw international collaborations with music heavyweights like, Wale, Young Thug, Rae Sremmurd, Nicki Minaj, Tinashe, Meek Mill, Chris Brown and R.Kelly which has increasing boosted his popularity and elevated Afrobeats on the international stage giving Nigerian Artistes a level playing ground with their international contemporaries.
“Aye” was a major hit and game changer. It blasted globally that its impact and the huge acceptance it received outside the country familiarized the genre Afrobeat internationally. His song “Fall” upon release made it to the American Billboard charts and constantly climbed every week and became the longest Nigerian song charting spending more than four weeks on the charts. It also went on to become the first Afrobeat song to go platinum in Canada and America. “If” remix featuring R.Kelly had Kanye using the Afrobeat song sample during one of his choir sessions. “Assurance” recorded another influence when it was used as part of the soundtrack in the movie ‘Coming to America’, a proof that Afrobeat is now highly recognized on the world stage.
Another thing that makes Davido an Afrobeat representative on the foreign market is, he has mastered his craft and comes in on any international collaboration both the ones he featured an American act or vice versa with his Afrobeat style and not try to sound foreign, and always puts Nigeria first.
Afrobeat in recent years is the new wave that has made its way into America, and North America that is a hard nut to crack, and very receptive that Hip-hop heavyweights like Drake, Nicki Minaj, Wale and Rae Sremmurd have in their songs infused it. We can as well say that the dominance of Afrobeat has made it more of a culture than just a music sound, and we’re privileged to present our African heritage to the world to partake in and feel the energetic African vibes.