Despite having talented musicians, the Nigerian music business and its artists have battled for years to get attention abroad due to a variety of issues, including the language barrier. Despite how popular Nigerian musicians may be, the world does not view them equally with their foreign rivals, hence the artists that receive little international recognition are viewed as special.
But those days are over, and it’s all owing to the efforts of several musicians, artists, and other people who put in long hours to position the Nigerian music industry on the world stage, carefully positioning it so that the audience couldn’t help but notice the talent and class.
It is intriguing to witness foreign musicians approach Nigerian artists on their own for a feature, to see Nigerian artists demand respect on the international arena, or even to see Nigerian artists refuse to let accolades determine how wonderful of an artist they are.
There is a misconception about what Afrobeats actually is and what it is not, despite the fact that it is somewhat true that Afrobeats brought Nigeria to the attention of the world.
What is Afrobeats?
The musical genre known as “afrobeats” represents the evolution and apex of Sub-Saharan African musical cultures across time. It places a strong emphasis on percussion and complex, dynamic rhythms. Afrobeats is a genre that includes some subgenres. Examples include Afro-fusion, Afropop, and Afro-house.
It is significant to highlight that Afrobeats is currently such a big thing that the Grammys, one of the most esteemed awards in the world, are considering introducing a voting category for it.
“We called in producers, songwriters, artists, executives and we had a virtual listening session where we heard from Afrobeats creators.
“We just talked about, ‘What are the different subgenres? What are the needs? What are the desires?”
If this strategy is successful, it will increase the number of Nigerian musicians that have a chance of being nominated in the Afrobbeats category as opposed to the prior grouping with the “Global Music” category, which reduced their prospects.
There are drawbacks to this decision. Since many people do not fully get what Afrobeats is and is not, it may become necessary to address the fact that not all Nigerian music is Afrobeats.
What Afrobeats is Not
The first myth we want to dispel is the idea that afrobeat is not afrobeats.
Although many attribute the creation of Afrobeats to the renowned Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the two genres differ in that Fela’s Afrobeat combined jazzy modern music with various instrumental elements while Afrobeats featured new electronic-styled and rhythmic-based music.
That does not negate the fact that Afrobeats has incorporated some of the sounds and delivery of Afrobeat into its own music. A rhythmic baseline and the use of jazz-inspired music are a couple of these elements.
Afrobeats is a fresh trend in and of itself, propelling Nigeria’s music industry to a level of global dominance unseen before. Saying that Afrobeats is the future won’t be incorrect, but doing so will mean ignoring the other kind of music that we’ve known for so long, abandoning it, and letting it die.
Afrobeats is not the only genre in Nigeria
If I don’t sound like a broken record, Afrobeats isn’t the only genre of music coming out of Nigeria. There are other additional genres, but the rest of the world doesn’t appear to be aware of them.
We’ve seen interviews, videos, and articles where all Nigerian singers are categorized as belonging to the Afrobeats genre. This can be problematic in certain ways because Nigeria has a diverse music business that includes genres like Fuji, Apala, and Highlife, to mention a few.
The challenge with correctly classifying various artists is that sooner or later, a classification difficulty may arise where we are unsure of what belongs where.
We are ecstatic about the Afrobeats genre’s remarkable expansion, but we must guard against getting carried away by the excitement and energy around it. The ability to correctly categorize our own music is what led to the industry’s current state, and the industry’s further expansion will be fueled by its diversity and variety of genres.