Afrobeats: Vocals and Vibes

An Afrobeat is a combination of West African musical styles and American Funk and Jazz undertones. Common instruments in this genre are trumpets, drums, and most importantly the vocals. 

This style of music originated in Ghana in the early 1920s, and Nigeria caught on to the wave later in the ‘60s. An Afrobeat can mean different things depending on who you ask. 

Some believe any kind of West African music is an Afrobeat, while others argue an Afrobeat is the modern style of West African music, people hear artists like WizKid and Davido make. However, there is a difference between an Afrobeat and Afrobeats. A true Afrobeat is a more traditional Western African music style; while Afrobeats is far more popular today and combines music styles from multiple genres. 

Cover for Zulu Screams by Goldlink ft. Maleek Berry, a Nigerian artist and Bibi Bourelly, a German artist.

Afrobeats has become more mainstream and global in the past years. American artists like Beyoncé, Goldlink, and Drake have collaborated with popular Nigerian musicians to produce bangers that flood the radio to a global audience. 

Drogba (Joanna) by Afro B was a hot Afrobeats tune summer of 2019. Afrobeats adds diversity and flavor to mainstream music while putting more undiscovered artists into the spotlight. Being able to witness your culture becoming the center of attention feels wonderful; it was about time West African artists got their clout.

London is another place where Afrobeats thrive. There are African artists that travel to the UK to collaborate with British stars like Jorja Smith, but there are some Afrobeats musicians that bring their own British influence into the genre. 

cover for Bim Bam by Lotto Boyz ft. Vianni.

The vast majority of UK rap carries African influence. Bim Bam by Lotto Boyz carries African inspiration with their melodic beats and use of West African slang. Be Honest by Jorja Smith featuring Burna Boy is a raw Afrobeats sound, incorporating a rhythm that makes you want to move your body while maintaining silky, smooth vocals. It’s clear that London musicians appreciate African sound and want to incorporate them into their own tunes.

Burna Boy, “Afrobeats Giant.”

African musicians are being celebrated on social media and award shows. Burna Boy’s mother accepted his award for Best International Act on the BET Awards 2019. He is also currently pending a nomination for Best World Music Album for his work African Giant for the Grammy Awards 2020. Burna Boy’s music can be considered Afrofusion, which incorporates more alternative music flavors and dances. He came to the spotlight in the early 2010s with his single Like to Party and hasn’t left the limelight since. His most popular songs On the Low, Ye, and Gbona are displayed with unique music videos of sensual ethnic dancers and flashing lights; Burna Boy seizes his audience’s attention with eye-catching music videos and catchy adlibs.

Afrobeats has more to bring to the table this year. These artists have promising projects keeping their fans excitedly expecting. The genre gives everyone room to incorporate their own opinions, styles, and flows. Seeing popular musicians flocking to West African beats and dance is an inspiration to all people; it reminds us that we will have our time to shine.

 African artists feel as though they are representatives of the culture and through their music, the world can get a taste of African realness. As a faithful Afrobeats fan, I appreciate their intentions and plan to spread the vibes. Hop on the wave of Afrobeats vocals and vibes before it takes off.