•From Lagos to Los Angeles, secrets behind Afrobeats’ global phenomenon
By Henry Akubuiro
On March 16, 2023, a video of five teenage Iranian girls dancing to the remix of Nigerian star, Rema’s “Calm Down” without headscarf surfaced around the world. It was a taboo. Their subsequent arrest by the totalitarian Iranian authorities sparked international outrage.
In today’s world, where music has collapsed international borders, the Iranian girls were merely acting like their contemporaries from around the world — dancing to the best vibes, regardless of its source. Of course, music is a universal language.
Then flashback to June 9, 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests
, sparked by the murder of the African
Flyod, by a group of exuberant, white policemen, protesters in the UK took some time off to dance to Burna Boy’s hit, “Ye”. The emotional scene, which was televised worldwide, also put the spotlight on the Nigerian music idol and A
frobeats genre of music.
Today, Afrobeats stars, like Davido, Burna Boy and Wizkid, have constantly sold out the popular O2 arena in London and the Accor Arena in Paris. It’s a feat most musicians outside Afrobeats struggle to attain. It never rains but pours.
From Afrobeat to Afrobeats
Afrobeat and Afrobeats are twodifferent music genres, but one thing in common is that both originated from Nigeria and West Africa. Compared to the contemporary Afrob
eats, the Afrobeat genre championed by Fela Anikulapo Kuti is a blend of West African and Black American music with mesmeric rhythms and melodies.
Fela started his early music career playing in West African highlife and jazz bands, appropriating the sonics of American jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues, as well as Caribbean soca during his
cultural straddles to the US and Europe.
He subsequently carved his own niche in the early 1970s, naming his band Nigeria 70, which he later changed to Africa 70 and then Egypt 80. At that
point in history, highlife music was the rave in West Africa, with Nigeria and Ghana the cultural epicentres.
Fela wasn’t just a singer; he went about his business with razzmatazz and panache, leading the band as a saxophonist. He was also adept in playing keyboards and drums. Music, for him, transcended the borders of entertainment, as he also engaged in cultural activism, evidenced in his queer dress code and irregular dance styles, nay, embarking on anti establishment and social
criticisms in songs and actions.
Upon his death in 1997, his son, Seun, took over the band. His elder brother, Femi, had before then started his own band, which he named Positive Force.
Tony Allen, Fela’s dedicated drummers, also added some innovations to the genre with the infusion of dub, electronica and hip-hop, collaborating with Western artistes: Air, Zap Mama, and Damon Albarn of Blur, among others.
Though Fela, Allen, Seun and Femi represent the faces of Afrobeat, other musicians outside Nigeria bought into the genre, too. Among this group include jazz musicians, like Roy Ayers, who recorded Afrobeat-inspired music in the 1970s. He went on to tour Nigeria with Fela. Besides, contemporary American artistes, like the Brooklyn based Antibalas and Zongo Junction, have added to the global Afrobeat retinue. In addition, traditional American rock and soul bands, like Budos and Band TV on the Radio, have recorded songs flavoured with Afrobeat.
Characteristically, Afrobeat features a large orchestra-style band with a sizable brass and rhythm department and a heavy dose of political themed songs. Both Femi and Seun, Fela’s sons, have earned themselves Grammy nominations. Femi has also collaborated with western artistes like Common and Nile Rodgers.
While Fela and his 20th century disciples succeeded in putting Afrobeat on the global map, contemporary Nigerian artistes, like Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido, Kizz Daniel and Rema, have taken the modern genre —Afrobeats — to new heights. Before them were the pacesetters, like Tuface Idibia, D’Banj and P’Square, who heralded the vibes to the global community.
What makes Afrobeats different from Fela’s Afrobeat? Afrobeats is a blanket term for popular music from West Africa, particularly Nigeria and Ghana and its diaspora, that developed at the turn of the new millennium. Outside West Africa, the UK was its secondary base in the 2010s.
Unlike Afrobeat, which has a distinctive jazzy, rocky and heavy percussive style, Afrobeats is less of a style, because it constantly throws up fusions from a variety of contemporary music styles. It initially evolved from Nigerian highlife with a blend of hip-hop, soukos, makossa and reggae tonalities. It has also appropriated Ghanaian hiplife, jùjú music, naija beats, South African kwaito and, more recently, Amapiano.
Today, the hub of Afrobeats is Lagos, Nigeria, with Accra, Ghana, following behind. In addition, London, UK, accounts for a fraction of Afrobeats songs produced in the world.
The audience boom for Afrobeats has been recognised by the scholar, David Drake, who said Afrobeats is picking “up on trends from the U.S., Jamaica, and Trinidad,” and “they re-imagine diasporic influences and—more often than not—completely reinvent them.”
Sonically, Afrobeats has evolved from the brand played by 2face or Idris Abdul Kareem and Tony Tetuila in its formative years. Nigerian stars, like Terry G, Nice, Timaya added something new to the vibes. Today, Afrobeats’ eclecticism has continued to expand. Though it has appropriated Western electronica, it has a significant signature with its highly danceable drum beat rhythms and instrumentals. The Tom-Tom beat, which Runtown reinvented in “Mad Over You” and “For Life” in 2018, made it to Billboard chart, and soon became infectious in late 2010s.
Today, almost all Afrobeats sounds feature a distinctive Kam-Kam beat in the background and West African drums, beaten at either mid tempo or high tempo. The traditional beats in Afrobeats are as important as the melody itself. Also, its rhythmic percussion, shakers and snares add to the characteristics.
While the 4/4 time signature is common in Western music, Afrobeats is associated with either 2-3 clave rhythm or 3-2 clave rhythm. You can’t help but dance to it.
Reacting to why Afrobeats dominates his playlist, Arsenal playmaker, Bukayo Saka, said in a podcast: “You can’t listen to Afrobeats without dancing. That’s why I love it.”
In early 2000s, Afrobeats began to get a steady playtime on the Nigerian airwaves through DJs, like Kenny Ogungbe, Dayo Adeneye, Olisa Adibua, on Nigerian FM stations and TV, significantly, bridging the gap between the dominant American and Western pop on the Nigerian airwaves. Kenny Ogungbe, in particular, as a producer, shaped the careers of the biggest Afrobeats group of that time, The Remedies, made up of Eddy Montana, Eedris Abdulkareem and Tony Tetuila, and launched their solo careers when they broke up. His Kennis Music also produced Sound Sultan and Tuface Idibia’s first two solo albums, among other artistes.
The introduction of Channel O’ and Dstv musical channels also encouraged the spread of local musical contents, just as Dstv did with Nollywood movies. Within a short time, stars like Tuface Idibia and PSquare became industry leaders. Olu Maintain dropped “Yahooze” in 2007, which became a universal banger. The arrival of the music producer, Don Jazzy, from the UK led to the formation of Mo’Hits group in mid 2000s, with D’Banj as its leading light. The group gave the two major artists then, Tuface and PSquare, a run for their money. By the 2010s, major artistes of the genre have begun to achieve remarkable global successes.
Also, the Calabar Carnivals, which became a global cultural showpiece in the 2000s through the then Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke, contributed in transporting the vibes and dance styles to audiences beyond the West African coast.
Outside the impacts made by the Nigerian aces of Psquare, D’Banj and Tuface Idibia, Ghanaian artiste, Fuse ODG, contributed in popularising Afrobeats in the UK, becoming the first African music star to top the iTunes World Chart and receiving the Best African Act award at the 2013 MOBO Awards. For lack of a generic term to qualify his music style, the Ghanaian simply qualified his brand of music as “hip-hop with an African vibe”.
However, there are some music critics, who don’t believe Afrobeats is a distinctive genre. The Owerri-based highlife musician, Ugo Stevenson, told Saturday Sun why: “What is obvious is that just as the word Afrobeats is a media creation, many in the roll call of the artistes addressed as performers of Afrobeats are not, indeed, advocates of the Afrobeat music culture. I may rather call them imitators of highlife music genre garbed in the glory of Afrobeats commercial effects.”
Afrobeats, a global brand
Towards the end of the 2010s, Afrobeats broke many barriers with stars, like Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Runtown, Mr Eazy, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Flavour, Olamide, Timaya and Phyno among the dominant voices. But the impact made by the first six far outweighed others on the global scene in terms of listenership, international shows, streaming and financial rewards.
In the last three years, however, Afrobeats has hallmarked itself as the undisputed African, global music brand, also eclipsing the Jamaican dance hall as the best foreign music genre played in Western clubs and parties. Many artistes from Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, Cameroon, Sierra Leone now identify their brand of music as Afrobeats.
Speaking to Saturday Sun from his base, Kelly Uzor, a Nigerian who lives in Madrid, Spain, said: “In Spanish clubs, Afrobeats songs are the preferred choices of party freaks. It has become so popular that, if a Western song is played by the DJ at the end of one Afrobeats song in a club, everybody will shout at him to remove it. It’s not just us, Africans that love dancing to it; the whites here love Afrobeats in the club more than even us.”
Prof. Onokoome Okome, a Nigerian scholar, who works at the Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Canada, recalled an incident that happened in Dubai sometime in 2013 when an Afrobeats song was being played.
“I was at the airport in Dubai when I heard Davido’s song being played. A lady from Trinidad suddenly began to dance. I asked her if she understood the lyrics, and she said no, but she could connect with the sound spiritually. That shows how far Afrobeats has travelled, even before now,” he told Saturday Sun.
Hitherto, Grammy nominations from West Africa have been the exclusives of the Kutis (Femi and Seun), King Sunny Ade, Angelique Kidjo and Rocky Dawuni. Though Wizkid and Davido achieved a greater level of success in the Western imagination before he jogged the limelight, Burna Boy became the first Afrobeats star to be nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music category at the 62nd edition of the global showpiece in 2020 with his viral African Giant album, released in 2019.
He was to win the Best Global Music Album category at the 2021 Grammy Awards with his 2020 Twice as Tall album, which featured, among others, icons like Puff Daddy, Naughty by Nature and Youssou Ndu.
One of Burna Boy’s rivals, Wizkid, also had his 2021 Made in Lagos album nominated for the Grammy Awards in 2022, making it the third successive time Afrobeats was being recognised by the Recording Academy of the United States. Wizkid’s chart topping hit, “Essence”, featuring the breakaway artist, Tems, was also shortlisted for the Best Global Music Performance category. Lest we forget, Wizkid won his first Grammy with “Brown Skin Girl”, a collaboration with the American superstar, Beyonce, in 2021.
Factors that changed the narratives
So many factors have accounted for Afrobeats’ storied, transnational and transatlantic appeal, the first of which is the uniqueness of the music itself.
Now resident in the US for over three decades, Azuka Jebose, the former Entertainment Editor of the Punch newspapers between 1986 and 1989, followed Fela from his primary school years in the 1970s when his primary school, Jehovah Jireh Primary School, was across Fela’s Kalakuta Republic, and was also assigned to cover Fela and the Afrika Shrine as a reporter even before he became the Entertainment Editor.
He told Saturday Sun in a telephone chat from the US: “Afrobeats genre, today, is like a beautiful dancer so long expected at a travelling carnival. Within the past decade, the genre has grown from its early format as a protest music that told our stories and daily struggles, to a seductive sex appeal. The world has embraced this genre, thanks to the new generation that, through their lyrics, dance sensual gyrations, deepest pulsating rhythms has enchanted the world. The world has woken up from this mostly bass and percussion rhythm genre to groove, move and cruise as they sing along.”
Without doubt, the diasporic factor has played a major role in the global acceptance of Afrobeats.
Senegalese superstar, Akon, who was the first major African artist to break into the American music industry in the 2000s, played the role of the big brother to PSquare, who he signed into his Konvict Music label in 2011. The group was, at the time, one of the most popular Afrobeats brands globally, according to Akon. The Senegalese star, later on, extended the same love to Wizkid, who was just 14 years old, working hard to get him signed to major labels in the US.
Besides, Nigeria is the most populated African nation in the world. Black Jamaicans, Americans, Britains and Brazilians, who have African roots, could easily relate with Afrobeats, despite the language barrier. The reason for this isn’t far-fetched.
According to the Transatlantic database, two major Nigerian ethnic groups (Igbo and Yoruba), with the Akan of Ghana, contributed more than any other African ethnic group to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Progeny of these Africans, now domiciled in the Western hemisphere, didn’t find it difficult embracing the Afrobeats genre, thus, helping in its spread.
Those in the UK, in particular, were the first to be seduced by the enchanting vibes before American blacks and the entire American audience cut the Afrocentric, sonic bug, contributing, in no small way, to the volume of streaming enjoyed by Afrobeats musicians.
Besides, Nigerians are the most travelled Africans in the world. Just like the black Americans, who took African music to the plantations and later to the world as rap and blues, becoming global pacesetters, the Nigerian diaspora, which is the largest migrants from Africa abroad, has provided a huge audience base abroad. At international concerts, these West Africans and other Africans are among the first queues to watch their favourite Afrobeats stars.
Since the 1970s, Nigeria has emerged as the cultural capital of the black world, right from Festac ‘77, which attracted the largest cultural flock of the black world in history. In art and literature, Nigeria is also the giant of Africa, with the country accounting for the biggest cultural ambassadors out of the continent. The Enwonwus, Grillos, Achebes, Soyinkas, Clarks and Adichies easily resonate. It’s an entrenched cultural thing, perhaps.
The role of YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and, more recently, Tiktok, in the global acceptance of Afrobeats can’t be underestimated. The world now looks forward to the latest Afrobeats hit out of Nigeria and the accompanying choreography to replicate. These dance videos and Afrobeats stars, together with their dance instructors, often invent challenges. Kaffi played a major role in those days with PSquare, but the field has since been democratised to include newcomers, like Poco Lee, among other unknown choreographers, whose dance styles have left many from around the world awestruck, leading to widespread memes, from Lilongwe to Michigan, as each dance video posted on individual social media account attracts thousands of likes, comments and followers, which, in turn, popularises the Afrobeat artist and his song.
Some of the trending Afrobeats dance styles now include Leg Work, Reverse Leg Work, Butterfly, Kpakujemu, among others.
If a new study were to be conducted around the world now on the fastest growing international language, Nigerian Pidgin English, no doubt, would be a world leader, because Afrobeats has taken the lingo to every nook and cranny globally. Fans of Afrobeats from other parts of the world sing and dance to the lyrics, whether it makes sense to them or not.
Azuka Jebose told Saturday Sun that the rhythm of Afrobeats and the linguistic vehicle of transmission was also key to the rise of Afrobeats: “Afrobeats rhythms, its unique language and edgy culture are part of what propelled the genre to become the newest millennium music.”
His view is in tandem with that of Ugo Stevenson, who noted: “Music is a universal language, and the consumers of music are always in quest for new sounds and of the dynamics in arts, and this Afrobeats music has offered to the world.”
Little wonder, CKay’s “Love Nwantiti”, released in 2019, made history as the most shazamed song in the world, thanks to the traffic it garnered on TikTok (Shazam is an app that identifies songs) in 2021. At the height of its popularity, TikTok and Instagram users were making more than 10 million videos a week using “Love Nwantiti”.
Sade Adu, a British Nigerian, in the 1980s, was the first African with Nigerian roots to captivate the global audience with the heavy percussive beats of West Africa in her songs. However, Nigerians do not identify her music as Afrobeats. She sang only in English and had her music produced wholly in the West.
However, the Nigerian group, PSquare, is one of the groups that opened a new chapter for Afrobeats in early 2010s with collaborations with Akon (“Chop my Money’) and with American rapper, Rick Ross (“Beautiful Onyinye”). In 2010, D’Banj released “Oliver Twist”, which featured Puff Daddy in a cameo video appearance. The song went viral worldwide (remember the character, Oliver Twist, in the Dickensian classic with the same title). The same year, D’banj’s did a collaboration with Snoop Dogg (“Mr Endowed” remix), which expanded the frontiers of Afrobeats. “Oliver Twist” peaked at No. 9 on the UK singles chart and No. 2 on the UK R&B chart, becoming the first Afrobeats song to make such a debut in the UK.
Among some of the most popular collaborations by Afrobeats stars in recent times is Wizkid’s effort with Beyonce in “Brown Skin Girl’ from the latter’s award-winning, 2019 album, For The Lion King: The Gift. In the same album, Beyonce featured the controversial Ghanaian star, Shatta Wale, and other Nigerian artistes, such as Burna Boy, Mr Eazy and Tiwa Savage.
The British super star, El Sharan, has also done Afrobeats a world of good, appearing in collaborations with Burna Boy and Joe Boy. Joy Boy’s “Peru” was even recognised by the former President of the South American country of Peru, Pedro Castillo, as a good advert for his country, though he knew “Peru” meant a different thing in the language of the song, Yoruba.
Afrobeats record holders
Before his global breakthrough in 2021/22 Nigerian artists, CKay, was relatively unknown in the country of his birth as a serious Afrobeats musician. Today, he is among the top five contemporary Afrobeats stars, thanks to his 2019 song “Love Nwantiti”, which, though didn’t fly upon its release in Nigeria, resurrected two years after its dwindling fortune in the country courtesy of a TikTok dance challenge in 2021, which broke records as most shazamed song in the world.
Wizkid has been around since 2009 and has earned for himself a cult following. His biggest international breakthrough, however, was a duet with American-Canadian super star, Drake in the Afrobeats song, “One Dance”, which is still generating streams on Spotify. Already, it has garnered over 2 billion streams on the music app.
Wizkid’s 2021 “Essence”, featuring a new Afrobeats sensation, Tems, became a global hit in 2021, and the unofficial song of the summer in the US and UK. Following the remix of the song with Justin Bieber, the American-Canadian superstar, “Essence” went into the record books as a top 10 song on the glamorous Billboard Top 100 chart. Due to the popularity of the Afrobeats genre, Billboard has now created an exclusive Billboard Afrobeats chart.
Don Jazzy’s protégé, Rema, is seen as Afrobeats’ fastest rising star at the moment. At the time of this report, Rema’s “Calm Down” has reached a new peak as the fourth most popular song in the UK. Last week, it was on No. 5, followed closely by the Bamenda-born, Cameroonian artist, Labianca, whose brand of music is also classified as Afrobeats. Her song, “People”, has reached a new peak at No. 5 in the UK, moving from No. 7 position last week and retaining a place on the chart for the 12th week.
Two weeks before his upward mobility on the UK chart, Rema had won many hearts worldwide when he identified with the embattled Iranian girls whose video shot in the street of Tehran while dancing to “Calm Down”, drew the ire of the Iranian regime.
Rema, in a March 16 Tweet said: “To all the beautiful women who are fighting for a better world, I’m inspired by you, I sing for you and I dream with you.” In the US, Rema has extended his stay on Billboard Hot 100 to 27 weeks. The song peaked at No. 15. Though “Calm Down” was released more than a year ago in February, 2022, in his debut album Raves & Rose, it has remained in the public consciousness. His remix with Selena Gomez has propelled it to higher heights.
Other Aftobeats stars, like Kizz Daniel, Patoranking, Tekno, Simi, Ricardo Banks, Oxlade, Lojay, Buju, Bella Shmurda, Omalay, Viictony, Joe Boy, Naira Marley and Asake, have also done well, home and abroad. But among the raves of the moment is Omalay, whose track “Soso” has gone viral on Tiktok workwide.
In the same category are Ayra Starr, whose hit “Rush” has triggered a global dancing frenzy; Oxlade, whose “Ku Lo Sa” has become a global anthem; and Victony, whose “Soweto’ hit has gone viral.
“Afrobeats culture have impacted global pop culture from all races wanting to be identified with the music and its movement,” said Jebose, who also runs an African restaurant in the US.
It’s amazing to learn that Afrobeats has also popularised Nigerian food in the US. He told Saturday Sun: “Another example is the current popularity of Nigerian cuisines across social media and the world. Indigenes of the world crave Naija’s food. It’s unbelievable. People from all over planet earth.
“Every day, you see these amazing people on TikTok or coming to my restaurant, Chop Naija Kitchen, Raleigh, North Carolina, in the US, to try Egusi soup with pounded yam, Jollof rice. Okra soup. This happened because of the Afrobeats genre, which has become a genre sought after by even the best music makers, singers and superstar producers. The world is Afrobeats. The world is dancing Afrobeats with its engaging dance styles.”
Just recently, Tems won a Grammy Award following her role in Future’s award-winning song, “Wait for You”, featuring also Drakes, under the Melodic Rap category.
In 2022, Lojay’s “Monalisa” and Kizz Daniel’s ‘Buga’ were among the top three Afrobeats’ greatest hits worldwide. While Chris Brown’s appearance in the remix version of “Monalisa” added to its global charm, Kizz Daniel’s “Buga” saw the entire African continent and elsewhere raising their shoulders high while dancing to the hit. The track also earned him a performance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Right now, Burna Boy appears to be the real McCoy, having sold out Madison Garden and European circuits and basking in the glory of the 2022 hit, “Last Last”, which sampled Toni Braxton, and riding on the back of the success of the recent Love Damini album.
While Burna Boy has been receiving all the acclaim for his party jams, not enough attention has been paid on Bose Ogulu, his mother, who has been his manager since 2010 when he released his first single, “Freedom Freestyle.”
Burna Boy’s first job after graduating from Oxford Brookes University, UK, was as an intern at Rhythm 93.7 FM, in Port Harcourt, anchoring a morning drive show, where he played his “Freedom Freestyle” for the head of programmes at the radio station. The song immediately became the song of the week, compelling fans to troop to the station to catch a glimpse of the new kid on the block with a British accent.
His mother, Bose Ogulu, recalled in an interview: “At that time, he couldn’t speak Pidgin English, so they kept trying to wrap their heads around it,” (asking him) ‘Where are you from, Brixton?’” The 55 year-old woman was to oversee Burna Boy’s first recording deal with Aristokrat Records in 2012. Unknown to many, she was a professor in the French Department at the University of Education in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Thirteen years after mother and child bonded in the Nigerian music industry as a team, Burna Boy has become one of the most celebrated and sought-after Afrobeats musicians known all over the world and an A-rated artiste in the globe.
His “Last Last” song not only reached No. 44 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart but went platinum in five different countries. Both the album and its lead single were nominated at the February 2023 Grammy, though it didn’t win this time..
International views on the rise Afrobeats
Of all the biggest international artistes collaborating with Afrobeats stars is the American R&B artiste, Chris Brown. So far, he has had ten collaborations with Afrobeats stars, with Wizkid accounting for four of them and Davido three of them. His most recent collaboration with Wizkid was “Call Me Every Day” (2022), while his last with Davido was “Shopping Spree” (2020), following the highly successful 2019 collaboration, “Blow My Mind”.
Speaking on the attractions of Afrobeats, Chris Brown said ahead of the release of his last collaboration with Wizkid in 2022: “I observed I always played my music, but Afrobeats is heavy… how hard the jam is blasting. Give it its recognition: it’s dope. I have been listening to it for a while.”
At the 2022 Afronation Music Festival held at Praia da Rocha beach, south of Portimão, Portugal, Chris Brown wowed the audience with Afrobeats collaborations with Davido, Lojay and Rema. Senegalese giant, Akon, who dominated the airwaves in the 2000s in Africa from his American base, is enchanted with the global acceptance of Afrobeats genre. In a September 22 interview with Hot 97 FM, New York, Akon said: “It’s amazing. But it isn’t surprising — I knew it was just a matter of time. I remember 10 years ago when I was running into major labels, trying to get Wizkid signed on, because I knew Wizkid was going to be the biggest thing over there. Back then, the PSquare was putting on early.”
He also said in a September 30, 2022, with Sway Colloway, a US on-air personality, that the big Afrobeats three had done well for themselves by working so hard.
He revealed that Davido was in Atlanta at a time trying to be a rapper, but he changed his direction.
“I’m super happy (about all these stories being told). What was even more interesting was that, around that time when we were pushing the third record, Davido was in Atlanta trying to be a rapper. And I said, if you don’t take your ass back home to Africa and do that music. That’s what we need to be doing: to go to Africa.”
Speaking highly of Burna Boy, the Senegalese said: “I am loving how Burna Boy is doing right now. Burna is killing it. It’s interesting he is being moved around by a guy named Kirk Hardy. Hardy used to be the Head of International for Convict Music. He literally gave Burna the Akon blueprint to break in.
“Burna is a beast. He is killing it, because he has come in with the swag of Nigeria and Ghana, like he is representing on the level that needs to be represented.”
Akon also rated Wizkid as the leader of Afrobeats today: “Wizkid is just a superstar. He is like one of those guys who puts out one record and it lasts for a whole year. He is a born star. He is probably the poster child for Afrobeats music.
“We knew he was going to be that way when we discovered him. We picked up Wizkid in 2010. At the time, he was a real kid. He was 14, like super young.
“Davido was like the hardest working artist back then, because he was the underdog. Everybody wanted to be Wizkid. Everybody praised Wizkid. But he (Davido) is from a wealthy family. So he was able to come up with a new song and music every week.
“He kept coming. He has more songs than any other Afrobeats artist. So he beats you with quantity versus quantity. So he has his method. Everybody has their method.”
What Afrobeats stars charge for shows
Afrobeats stars are having a ball right now. In the 1980s and 90s, Nigerian music was dominated by reggae musicians, like The Mandators, Ras Kimono, Majek Fashek, Oritz Wiliki, Daniel Wilson, among others. But none of them made good money for themselves, despite having the entire Nigerian populace skanking to their beats and chanting “Jah rastafari,,, Sellasie!”
But the story has changed today. Afrobeats musicians are living their dreams and rubbing shoulders with big time footballers and captains of industries from the continent.
In April, 2022, Wizkid tweeted that he was paid a whopping one million dollars (about 700 million naira) just to perform at the 2022’s Rolling Loud Festival in the city of Toronto, Canada, which took place from September 9th to 11th, 2022, alongside Nigerian-British rapper Dave and American rapper, Future, as well as Rema. A co-headliner, Future, confirmed he was paid a million dollars for the show.
To perform in other countries, an unconfirmed source said Burna Boy charges a performance fee of $500,000 (more than N350 million) and the organiser will have to provide a 13-seater private jet vetted by management team prior to booking.
Upon arrival at the airport, the singer will be picked up by a convoy of five different luxury vehicles, a Mercedes Benz sprinter, a van and three other SUVs from G wagon to Cadillac Escalade, which must be available to the artiste for the duration of the trip.
Also, Burna Boy will be provided with a four or five-star hotel with a reserved smoking executive suite, two junior suites, one deluxe king room and six double standard rooms with big mirrors. Besides, the hotel should also have a green room in which he and his crew can relax when not on stage. His host is expected to provide 14 flight tickets for his travelling band, in consultation with Burna Boy’s management. Who doesn’t like good thing?
Global music report and Afrobeats
In 2021, revenues from world music rose by 18.5 per cent to $25.9bn (£19.5bn), the highest level since records began in the 1990s, a growth driven by streaming, with 523 million paid subscribers, a rise from 443 million in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic held hostage the world.
While streaming accounted for 65 per cent of total revenues, CDs, vinyl and cassettes made up 19 per cent, as downloads rake up four per cent, while the remaining 11 per cent comes from a mixture of royalty payments and licensing music to films, TV shows and adverts, reports the BBC. The report put Afrobeats artistes — Wizkid, Ckay and Burna Boy — as the market leaders from Africa in 2021, partly encouraged in the UK by the recently-launched Afrobeats chart.
With a global emphasis on the creative industries as a major earner in a post-COVID world by UNESCO and the ongoing digital revolution, Afrobeats is bound to achieve a bigger milestone in the next few years. The legendary producer and one of the pillars of the industry, Don Jazzy, is upbeat about the future. “Afrobeats’ global expansion owes a lot to the digital revolution. The viral potential that social media has presented and the tour side of the business is aiding our bid to take over the world,” he declared in an interview.
Already, it’s bursting at the seams. Don Jazzy may not be blowing hot air, after all.