The new sound of world music is Afrobeats, and in the likes of Wizkid and Davido are frontrunners who have positioned the genre for the mainstream recognition it is presently enjoying.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, the Afrobeats movement is up, running and totally piloted by Nigerian artists.
The story of the Nigerian pop scene as it exists today – with its popularity, acceptance and seemingly booming nature is entirely down to the efforts of indigenous artists and the fanbase back home.
No doubt the window opened by the UK community, which saw someone like DJ Abarantee lay claim as the creator of the name, ‘Afrobeats’ and the influence of international superstar like Drake with his collaborations with Wizkid has also helped foster the genre.
But the accolades for its growth fully goes to those who have championed the course from home with little or no structure to support them.
Sometime in 2012, at the basketball event of the London Olympics, D’banj’s ‘Oliver Twist’ hit the speakers during the interval of the basketball game between Russia and Brazil.
Released months earlier, Oliver Twist produced by Don Jazzy became a global phenomenon with the video featuring a cameo from hip-hop superstar Kanye West.
This was a defining moment, one that six years later is beginning to fully yield fruits for the younger talents.
Afrobeats finds its inspiration in Afrobeat [at least a bit of it], a genre created by the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and even though there is a sharp contrast in the sound, the elements of heavy instrumentals, jazz and highlife still find its way in what is offered today.
Other acts who have done their bit in pushing the borders of the genre include 2face Idibia, whose solo career timeline kicked off at about the same time MTV set its ‘base’ in Africa, with his songs opening the borders of Nigerian music beyond the continent.
Figures such as Ice Prince have also played their part, but the last couple of years has witnessed a significant exposure with international deals, wider acceptance and headline concerts around the world. The narrative belongs to those who really are the leaders of the movement.
Here are the five major Nigerian artists pushing Afrobeats to the world
From the moment ‘Ojuelegba’ was released, nothing stayed the same again for this young talent.
As the song shut down major platforms back at home, Drake gifted it with a verse alongside Skepta, which catapulted its status on the international scene.
Back to back collaborations with Drake on ‘Come Closer’ and the chart topping, ‘One Dance’have also helped make Wizkid a feature on the global radar.
His reggaeton influenced single, ‘Daddy Yo’ served as a soundtrack on the movie ‘Pacific Rim’and after sealing a dealing with Sony Music/RCA Records, Wiz released the body of work,‘Sounds From The Other Side’ strategically targeted at the American market.
In the last 12 months, Wizkid has sold out the Royal Albert Hall in London, the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena, listed to perform at the Coachella festival [which he failed to attend], spotted with the likes of Diddy, with his songs gaining constant rotation globally.