Nigerian Artists Exporting Afrobeats To The World
Afrobeats is Nigeria’s most prized music export to the world. It features chants, call-and-response vocals, and complex interacting rhythms which emanate from tiny studios in Lagos and are heard globally.
The music genre was developed in the 70s out of a combination of West African musical styles, such as Highlife and Yoruba rhythms, with American funk and jazz, and a focus on chanted vocals and percussion.
It is a genre that conveys the country’s happiness and struggle, and expresses what it means to live the Nigerian way.
Afrobeat vs. Afrobeats
The Term “Afrobeat” was coined in the 1960s by Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuti, who is responsible for pioneering and popularizing the style both within and outside Nigeria.
It was partially borne out of an attempt to distinguish Kuti’s music from the “soul music” of American artists. The late music legend was often politically charged with a consistent dose of criticism aimed at Nigeria’s military dictators.
“Afrobeats” on the other hand is a contemporary Nigerian sound being exported to the rest of the world by the “new school” musicians. It tends to steer clear of politics as its groovy beats are laced with lyrics mainly about money, love, and sex with a focus on getting audiences to dance.
Sony, a record label that has made its mark in the US music charts, is gradually paying attention to Nigerian music as it has signed two of the country’s raving artists – Wizkid and Davido – to its record label. Similarly, the Universal Music is developing properties and sonic real estate in Lagos. It also recently singed leading Nigerian female artist Tiwa Savage to its label.
Below is a list of Nigerian artists who are exporting Afrobeats to the world by topping foreign charts, filling up concert venues, and scoring wins globally.
Nigerian music star, Ayodeji “Wizkid” Balogun, music is a fusion of Afrobeats and conventional pop and he is currently receiving crazy love globally.
Wizkid’s ‘Ojuelegba’ found its way to Drake, and a remix of the record was made on the spot, that feeling, the vibe and the press inspired more records, including the phenomenal ‘One Dance’.
Wizkid has toured the U.S and headlined some major concerts in the U.K. He has equally won the BET and MOBO awards as well as a few notable international collaborations to his name.
Recently signed to Universal Music Group, Tiwa Savage currently has a songwriting deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. She had been signed to Mavin Records under which she released several hits before eventually joining UMG. She also signed a management and publishing deal with Roc Nation in June 2016. She co-wrote the track “Collard Greens & Cornbread” off Fantasia Barrino’s Grammy-nominated album, “Back to Me.”
In 2018, American singer, Ciara released Afrobeats-tinged song “Freak Me,” featuring Tekno, a remake of Tiwa Savage’s 2015 song, “Before Nko” featuring D’Prince.
She gave credit to Tiwa savage saying, “Shoutout to Tiwa Savage in the inspiration and sample used in #FreakMe!” she wrote. “She’s a beast! I fell in love with the melody when I first heard it in Africa 3 years ago.”
Bukola “Asa” Elemide known as the African goddess of soul music, though hasn’t been in the Nigerian spotlight in the most recent times, is another brilliant international export who started inLagos Nigeria. Growing up listening to King Sunny Ade, Bob Marley, Fela among others, her taste for soul music grew and in time she started making her own music. Asa has “sold-out” alternative music album, “Àsá” in a Nigerian market known for appreciating only commercial music. The songstress has toured the world with endless collaborations home and abroad. Currently singed to French record label, Naive records in Paris, Asa’s “Beautiful Imperfection” album of 2010, was ranked #3 on the World Music Charts Billboard USA.
Currently signed to Universal Music Group under his own record label DB records, D’banj broke into international spotlight after releasing the remix of his Afrobeat pop fusion “Mr Endowed” featuring legendary American rapper Snoop Dogg.
The success of “Mr Endowed” boosted his credibility in the global scene and helped him score a recording deal American rapper, Kanye West’s GOOD MUSIC record label. He eventually released the smash hit “Oliver Twist” which topped UK charts under Good Music.
The Kokomaster, as he is fondly called, has worked alongside other big international acts, performed at international music festivals, won numerous local and international awards and headlined the biggest event arenas around the world. The Entertainer is fond friends with fellow label mate Rita Ora and Big Sean.
2face Idibia a.k.a 2Baba
Since storming the Nigerian Music scene as a solo act in 2004, Innocent “2Face” Idibia also known as 2Baba has taken African Hip Hop and R n’B to the world. Winning an MTV European Music Award (EMA), Music of Black Origin (MOBO) award, winning and performing at the World Music Awards and countless others of such. This new school king has been a force to be reckon with since his days with boy group “Plantation Boys”.
He has been severally credited with being the first contemporary Nigerian musician to break into the international scene following the wild success of his song, African Queen. He brought the world back to African music at a time when the dominance of foreign music was on the reign.
Davido’s collaboration includes: Fans Mi ft Meek Mill; Fine Girl ft Wale and Olamide; Tichelet ft Mafikizolo; The Sound ft Uhuru and DJ Buckz and the recently released remix of “fall” featuring Busta rhymes and Prayah.
In 2017, U.S. pop star Robert Sylvester Kelly, known as ‘R. Kelly’ released a remix of Davido’s ‘IF.’
The almost 4-minute remix maintains the beats and transitions of the original Davido work save for Kelly’s introductory bits. Then after one-and-half minutes, Kelly takes over with a rap that runs for over one-minutes and forty seconds before Davido takes over with Kelly in the background.