Afrobeats icons fela wizkid burna boy

Afrobeats was coined from Afrobeat, it originated in Nigeria and Ghana in the 2000s. It is a fusion and combination of sound from Nigeria, Ghana and the UK. It can also be used to describe contemporary music from West Africa and the Diaspora. Traditional West African sounds like Highlife, Afrobeat, Juju and Fuji mixed with Western sounds like Pop, RnB, Hip Hop, and the Caribbean sounds like Reggae and Dance Hall are components of Afrobeats.

Afrobeats is oftentimes mistaken for Afrobeat but they are far from being the same. However, Afrobeats is more of a music culture than a music genre, it has become an umbrella for varieties of African sounds. It is now a culture the black community in Africa wants to identify with, same way Caribbean black community identify with reggae sound and its culture. Hence why, every African sound and achievements are linked to Afrobeats.

King Sunny Ade and Fela Kuti

Fela and King Sunny Ade on the Global Stage

Globalization of Afrobeats started with Afrobeat and Juju music, legends like Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade shot our music into limelight, their music transcended beyond African borders. They enjoyed significant amount of commercial success in the world’s biggest music market, United States. In addition, they forged the pathway to world’s biggest and most credible music chart “Billboard”. They set unprecedented records with their music before the advent of social media, records that took decades to break by the new generation of Afrobeats artistes.

In 1983, King Sunny Ade became the first Nigerian artiste to appear on Billboard 200 chart, he debuted on the chart with his album “Juju Music” in 1983. The album peaked at #111 and also went ahead to set a record that is yet to be broken till date, spending 29 weeks on the chart.

In addition, his next album “Synchro Sytem”, which became the first Grammy nominated Nigerian album broke Juju music’s peak on Billboard 200, rising as high as #91 on the chart. The album also became the first Nigerian album to appear on UK album chart, with its peak at #93. Furthermore, Fela Kuti also went ahead to set a record on Billboard World Album chart with his “The Best Of Black President” album, spending 45 weeks on the  chart, a record that was broken recently in 2021 by Wizkid’s “Made In Lagos” album.

D banj, Fuse ODG & 2baba

Afrobeats Evolution with Dban’j, 2face

The 2000s generation took the mantle from the older generation and broadened the sound, their music laid a solid foundation for the evolution of Afrobeats. It’s been a smooth ride for Afrobeats music, Nigerian and Ghanaian artistes have done really well in pushing the sound beyond African borders. The evolution of Afrobeats started with the 2000s generation of Afrobeats artistes. 2face’s smash hit “African Queen” broke boundaries and traveled beyond African music culture, the song was used as a soundtrack in Hollywood movie titled “Phat Girlz” in 2006.

In addition, D’banj and Don Jazzy created a bridge between Afrobeats and American artistes with their collaboration with Snoop Dogg for “Mr Endowed” remix. The remix made Afrobeats lovers believe a collaboration between big Pop stars and Nigerian artistes was more than possible. P Square followed suit and released a smash African hit “Chop my money” remix featuring Akon, and Rick Ross on “Beautiful Oyinye” remix.

In 2012, D’banj released a monster hit Oliver Twist. It catapulted Afrobeats music to UK mainstream audiences, becoming the first Afrobeats song to appear on UK Official singles chart, rising as high as #9 on the chart. Oliver Twist became a big turning point for Afrobeats, Kanye West had a cameo appearance in the music video.

Furthermore, a year later Fuse ODG joined D banj on the chart with Anthena, it peaked at #7, breaking D’banj’s peak record on the chart. In 2013, Fuse ODG released Azonto, a song that became a pandemic in Africa and beyond, the song came with a viral dance that served as the icing on the cake for the song. He also set another peak record with “Dangerous Love”, climbing up to #3 on UK Official singles chart.

Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido

Afrobeats to the World with Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy

Afrobeats has seen a significant development in recent years, what used to be dreams for us have become realities we are living now. The 2010s generation took the mantle from 2000s generation, they expanded Afrobeats music reach worldwide, and have garnered some noteworthy achievements like endorsements, awards and collaborations with Pop artistes.

Wizkid’s classic hit “Ojuelegba” came as a cultural reset for Afrobeats, it put Afrobeats in a pole position for an improved level of global acceptance, it was used to introduce Afrobeats to Pop culture, the song got Drake’s attention thanks to Skepta, which birthed a remix. Furthermore, the remix positioned Afrobeats well for global acceptance, it was ranked #12 on Fader’s magazine 107 best song in the world in 2015, the song went ahead to become anthem for the African culture.

In 2016, Drake featured Wizkid on an Afrobeats inspired song titled “One Dance”, one of the biggest song in the world in 2016, it spent 10 weeks at #1 on Billboard Hot 100, making Wizkid the first Nigerian artiste to appear on Billboard Hot 100 chart and the journey to integrate Afrobeats sound into Pop culture began for the new generation of Afrobeats artistes.

According to Drake, his collaboration with Wizkid birthed 3 songs, Ojuelegba remix (2015) opened the door for more collaborations, One Dance (2016)and Come Closer (2017). Moreover, 2016 was a good year for Afrobeats, Mr Eazi laid the foundation for mid tempo sound with his “Banku sound”, he integrated it into Afrobeats sound successfully which cemented Afrobeats position in UK. In addition, we also produced 2 smash hits in Tekno’s “Pana” and Runtown’s “Mad over you”, these songs became the crowning strokes for Afrobeats culture.

In 2017, Wizkid released his third studio album “Sounds From The Other sides”, the album went ahead to break King Sunny Ade’s “Juju Music” album’s peak on Billboard 200, it peaked at #107 on the chart. The album also became first Nigerian album to appear on UK Official Albums chart since King Sunny Ade’s “Synchro System”, peaking at #91. However, Burna Boy’s African Giant and Twice As Tall came and broke “Sounds From The Other Sides” peaks on UK Official Album chart and US Billboard charts, they also set new records that were broken recently by Wizkid’s “Made In Lagos” album.

Afrobeats’ growth doubled exponentially in 2017/18, the culture produced some monster hits like Wizkid’s “Come Closer” (2017) that became a chart breaker in UK, US and Canada, Davido’s “If” & “Fall” (2017) that went viral in US, enjoying heavy rotation on US radios, Burna Boy’s “Ye” (2018) became a big anthem in UK & US & “On The Low”(2019) became viral song in France and Wizkid’s “Soco” (2018) also penetrated the Canadian market.

As a result of this growth, 5 Nigerian albums have appeared on Billboard 200 album charts namely since “Sounds From The Other Sides” namely; Burna Boy “African Giant” #104 and “Twice As Tall” #54. Davido’s “A Better Time” #170 and C Kay’s “C kay the first” EP at #117, and Wizkid “Made in Lagos” peaking at #28.

Afrobeats has become a goldmine which has also attracted foreign investors into the industry, big record labels from the biggest music markets in the world now have branches in Africa, they now collaborate with local labels for distribution to wide audience.

In 2019, Burna Boy released his “African Giant” album, a beautifully crafted album tailored to make statements about Burna Boy’s identity and where he comes from. The album received a Grammy nomination in World album category. Although he lost the award to an African music legend Angelique Kidjo but the album’s Grammy nomination became an inspiration for the new generation of artistes, an award that seemed impossible to be nominated for became what artistes saw possibilities of winning. Before “African Giant”, it seemed like Grammy nominations were reserved for the old generation of artistes, African Giant opened artistes’ eyes to the possibilities of getting nominations, artistes trooped out en mass to submit their body of works for Grammy considerations the following year. The growth is no stranger to the world, it’s become a river many non African artistes want to fetch from. After Drake tapped into the sound for One Dance, it’s expected that more artistes would follow suit, Doja Cat did cover of Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba” in 2016 that was released unofficially on Youtube and also had an Afrobeats inspired song “Woman” on her 2021 Album “Planet Her”.

3 years ago, Beyonce announced an Afrobeats themed album “Lion King: The Gift” which would be the soundtrack for “Lion King” movie, the album featured many African artistes and producers. It houses the classic hit Brown Skin Girl featuring Wizkid, St Jhn and Blue Ivy, a song that symbolizes blackness and self love, it became every black person’s go to song, it encouraged the whole black community to love their skin and reminds them of where they are from. It became a bridge between Black Africans and other black communities beyond Africa. The song became a ladder for Wizkid to win some of the most prestigious music awards in the world including a Grammy win in a major category. However, Afrobeats lifted the latch to Grammy win as 2 Nigerian artistes, Wizkid and Burna won Grammy awards, Wizkid won with his contributions on Brown Skin Girl in video of the year category, while Burna Boy won with his Twice As Tall album in Global Album categories, an award that has eluded the grasp of many Nigerian legends for decades finally found its way to us.

We are living in a moment when Afrobeats songs are now enjoying commercial success across the world, we’ve had several certified songs in US, songs like Wizkid’s “Come closer”, Ayo Jay’s “Your Number 1”, Davido’s “If” & “Fall”, Burna Boy’s “Ye”, Afro B’s “Johana”, Korede Bello’s “Do Like That”, C Kay’s “Love Nwantiti” are all RIAA Gold certified, we also got Afrobeats first RIAA platinum certified record “Essence” by Wizkid. Furthermore, we have certified songs in UK, songs like Wizkid’s “Come Closer” and Burna Boy’s “Ye” are BPI Gold certified, while Wizkid “Essence” and “C Kay” Love Nwantiti” are BPI silver certified in the country. However, Afrobeats music reach isn’t limited to UK and US, some of the above mentioned songs are also certified in France, Canada, New Zealand coupled with official chart entries across the world. With all the success Afrobeats has enjoyed in recent years, there was one particular thing that looked like a dream untill 2021 when the deadlock was broken. Some months ago, Afrobeats celebrated its first song to appear on Billboard Hot 100 chart, a chart that seemed farfetched for Afrobeats, Wizkid alongside Tems scaled pass the impasse with Essence and making it the first Afrobeats song to debut on the most competitive and most prestigious music chart in the world. The chart entry is a proof of acceptance by the majority and commercial success in United States, the song put Afrobeats sound in a Global spotlight we’ve never seen before, it attracted the attention of the whole world to Afrobeats sound, making the Essence the first Globally accepted Afrobeats song. A commercial success in US is like a wildfire, it spreads beyond the country borders, the influence US has on world music consumption is staggering. Essence has spent 19 weeks on Billboard Hot 100 so far, peaking at #9 on the chart. Getting pass the stalemate to make an appearance on Billboard Hot 100 chart with a collaboration between two Afrobeats artistes seemed implausible at first, we didn’t need an international artiste to break the leash, Essence, an all Afrobeats collaboration, produced by 2 Afrobeats producers did what collaborations with American artistes couldn’t do for us. Essence has integrated Afrobeats sound into Pop culture, it is a song some of the biggest Artistes in the world wished they own, it has become a song that symbolizes hope and happiness for the black community and the world at large, it peaked at #28 on Billboard Global 200 chart.

However, while “Essence” fire was still burning, C kay’s “Love Nwantiti”, a song released in 2019 resurfaced, took over Tiktok and headed straight to Billboard Hot 100 climbing as far as #31 and UK Official single chart, following the footsteps of Essence, the song’s success transcended beyond US, it became the 2nd Global Afrobeats hit song in 2021, it is now joint highest peaking Afrobeats song on UK Official Chart, sharing the record with Fuse ODG’s “Dangerous Love”, rising as high as #3 on the chart. “Love Nwantiti” success started from Tiktok and transcended beyond the social media app, getting wide acceptance across the world, it peaked at #3 on Billboard Global chart. When we thought it’s wrap, Amarae made an entry to Afrobeats hall of fame with her song “Sad Girlz Luv Money”, becoming the 3rd Afrobeats song to appear on Billboard Hot 100, debuting at #80 on the chart. 1 Billboard Hot 100 entry seemed farfetched, 2 Billboard Hot 100 entries looked implausible and 3 Billboard Hot 100 entries looked like a mission impossible and all these 3 entries happened in the space of 7 months. Amarae’s “Sad Girls Luv Money” is also on course to become a Global Afrobeats hit, the only thing standing between the song and being a Global hit is time.

2021 will go down as Afrobeats defining moment, what looked like a dream is now a reality we are living, Afrobeats has found fertile lands in different regions across the world to grow our music. We’ve won some of the most prestigious music awards in the world including Grammy, however, after Wizkid and Burna Boy’s Grammy win in 2020, there is hope for more possible nominations and wins for Wizkid’s Global smash record “Essence” and “Made In Lagos but commercial success in US is something that seemed improbable until this year. Afrobeats now has the world’s attention like never before, with the quality and quantity of firepower we have in our weaponry, appearing on Billboard Hot 100 will eventually become a norm for Afrobeats music. Before we used to rely on collaborations with top world artistes to increase the reach of our music, now Afrobeats has become a culture and sound that can stand on its own, we now have a bigger audience waiting to consume our music right from the release moment.

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