Afrobeats, also known as the sound of Lagos, is a style of music that has achieved global acclaim. Afropop and Afrobeats, as they have come to be known, are musical genres that capture the beauty of a piece of Africa through their rhythmic flow, organized beats, and constant baseline.
Despite this, there is still a vast misunderstanding of what Afrobeats is, especially in light of the recent outcry from Nigerians and Nigerians in the diaspora regarding the Grammy’s fusion of Afrobeats and African American culture.
This piece will discuss the basic history and elements of what Afrobeats is.
What is Afrobeats?
As a Nigerian, your definition of Afrobeats is quite simple – Nigerian music! Our music! Additionally, if you can recall a specific event from history, you might be tempted to credit the legendary Fela Anikulakpo Kuti with its conception.
While Afrobeats is Nigeria music, its origins aren’t completely from Fela. Here’s why
Afrobeat is not Afrobeats!
Yes, there is a classic difference between both.
Suggested read: Afrobeat vs Afrobeats
Afrobeat [Fela] is jazzy, contemporary music with a lot of instrumental flavour and often political lyrics crafted to stir a patriotic consciousness.
Afrobeats or Afropop is the new electronic-styled and rhythm-based music, with its lyrics often involving sex, money, and partying.
Without a doubt, Afrobeat(s) borrows some concepts of its sounds and delivery from Afrobeat. Some of which include its infusion of jazz flavored tunes and rhythmic baseline.
Is that all to Afrobeats? Absolutely Not!
The underlying concept behind Afrobeats particularly from its city of origin, Lagos, Nigeria its evolution of culture.
Evolving from a traditional landscape to embracing futuristic concepts and foreign trends. The young populace of Lagos is conscious of their relevance to their immediate and extended community, with the desire to influence it.
This in and of itself has birthed perhaps what should be recognized as the powerhouse of Afrobeats music on the global music scene – Nigerians in diaspora!
Nigerians in Diaspora are particularly the unsung heroes of Afrobeats and its influence all over the globe. While the energy of the music is undeniable, it is the cultural pride of such individuals that carries the genre across borders.
So how did the Grammys’ mix it all up?
Recently the official handle released a tweet and an article classifying Afrobeats as a blend of West African and Black American music. However, after a ton of backlash on its inaccuracy the article was amended (but not the tweet).
Afrobeats is a mesmeric blend of #WestAfrican and Black American music that has quickly become a global pop phenomenon.
🎵 Here are 5️⃣ widely successful subgenres whose unique rhythms and melodies will instantly grab your ear.https://t.co/I5reNUiQVM
— Recording Academy / GRAMMYs (@RecordingAcad) July 27, 2022
The distinct difference between Afrobeats (including Afrobeat) and Black American music is the background culture. Culture means the most to Africans. Language, colors, style, food, sound, approach to life. All of these bring to life the beauty of Afrobeats music including other popular music genres of African origin such as Alté and Amapaino.
In the future, as Afrobeats equally evolves into Afro-Fusion, there would be tons of ecstatic moments experienced by multiple genres within the African music space. However, it is undeniable that Afrobeats is fundamentally Nigerian music, both in terms of origin and originality.
Suggested read; The color of sounds: Afrobeat vs Afrobeats
With some of the most influential figures in world music embracing the genre, and collaborating with other influential creators. The peak of the Afrobeats genre is yet to be experienced.