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A Brief History of Afrobeat

The history of Afrobeat began in the early twentieth century when musicians from Ghana combined West African regional music with Western jazz and calypso. The resulting new sound became known as highlife, which continued to fold additional Western influences into its heady mix over the next few decades.

Kuti and Africa 70 carve out the sound: Nigerian musician Fela Aníkúlápó-Kuti, who began his career playing in an array of African highlife and jazz bands, absorbing the sounds of soul, jazz, soca, and rhythm and blues during various tours of America and the United Kingdom. He then unleashed this formidable creation in his band, Nigeria 70 (later Africa 70), debuting his unique new musical style in the early 1970s.

Afrofunk is born: The most successful figure from Kuti’s orbit was undoubtedly drummer Tony Allen, who expanded on the Afrobeat sound by mixing in elements of hip-hop, dub, and electronica to form a new subgenre called Afrofunk. Allen enjoyed even wider exposure than his former bandleader through collaborations with Air, Zap Mama, and Damon Albarn of Blur, among others.

 

Notable Afrobeat Artists

Here are a few notable artists whose contributions to the genre have helped define it:

  1. Fela Kuti: The primary architect of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, and his band Africa 70 defined the sprawling scope and relentlessly funky sound of the genre from the early 1960s until his death in 1997. His life and music were the basis for the Tony-winning musical Fela!
  2. Femi Kuti: Like his father, Femi Kuti mixed the hard swing of Afrobeat with political activism for his own celebrated and Grammy-nominated career. He began with Egypt 80 before launching his group, Positive Force, in 1988 and has remained active as a recording and touring artist. Femi has collaborated with numerous Western musicians, including Common, Nile Rodgers, and D’Angelo.
  3. Tony Allen: Drummer Tony Allen recorded more than 30 albums with Fela Kuti and helped define the hard-driving rhythm of Afrobeat. He recorded numerous solo albums and laid down the beat for The Good, the Bad, & the Queen, a supergroup featuring Damon Albarn, the Clash’s Paul Simonon, and Simon Tong, before his death in 2020.

What Are the Differences Between Afrobeat and Afrobeats?

Afrobeat and Afrobeats are predominantly distinct in sound and genre. Afrobeat is a mix of African music and American soul and jazz. On the other hand, Afrobeats, also known as Afropop, is a loose affiliation of popular music that draws on African and Western music, including juju, dancehall, soca, Naija beats, house, and hiplife, a Ghanian take on hip-hop.

Afrobeats artists like Wizkid, Mr. Eazi, D’banj, Burna Boy, and Davido are featured on numerous popular playlists on music streaming platforms. They have influenced or collaborated with Western pop music artists like Beyonce, Drake, and Chris Brown.

Playlist,

01. Awilo Longomba - Canon
02. Reekado Banks - Rora
03. Rayvanny ft.Diamond Platnumz - Tetema
04. Singh - Balance It
05.Diamond Platnum - ft Fally Ipupa - Inama
06. Burna Boy - Anyb0dy
07. Toofan ft. Patoranking - Ma Girl
08. Tanayzer - Guta
09. Joeboy - Beginning
10.MC Galaxy - Aliona10.MC Galaxy - Aliona
11. Masterkraft - ft.Phyno, Selebobo - LaLaLa
12.Innoss39B Ft Diamond Platnumz - Yope Remix

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