Afrobeats' Rise To Fame: The Struggles and Wins So Far - BBU7

August 30, 2022 - 93 views

Afrobeats' Rise To Fame: The Struggles and Wins So Far - BBU7

In the past few years, Afrobeats has gained a lot of momentum. It’s been, for sure, a hell of a ride. But then, It can attain even much greater heights. But the question is, how much better? The short answer is, time will tell.

As Afrobeats dominates several music charts, shouldn't we consider it to be the next big thing?

Afrobeats has recorded incredible success in the past few years. But unfortunately, recent wins do not imply it never had its fair share of losses.

However, before we dive right deep into the juicy details, we must specify the difference between Afrobeat and Afrobeats.

The Difference Between “Afrobeat” and “Afrobeats”

Afrobeats is simply a fusion of hip-hop, R&B, reggae, fuji, juju, apala, galala, konto, lamba, makossa, soukous, amapiano and many more.

Afrobeat, in contrast, was an invention of Femi Anikulapo-Kuti. It’s a combination of jazz, funk, psychedelic rock and traditional West African chant and rhythms from the 1970s. However, Afrobeat is often considered as highly political because of Fela’s activism.

What Is Afrobeats?

In simple terms, Afrobeats is a fusion of African and Western music. Additionally, it contains some hip-hop elements and is primarily associated with Western African countries like Nigeria and Ghana.

Afrobeats is also known for its incredible dance culture. Shaku Shaku and Azonto are typical examples.

UK-based Dj Abarantee supposedly coined the term “Afrobeats” in 2011.

In his own words, as reported in The Guardian, ‘For years we’ve had amazing hiplife, highlife, Nigerbeats, jùjú music, and I thought: you know what, let’s put it all back together as one thing again, and call it Afrobeats, as an umbrella term.’ 

The Early Days Of Afrobeats Music

In 2005, Tuface's big hit 'African Queen' became the first music video to be featured on MTV Base Africa, a subsidiary of MTV Base UK. 

It was the first time an Afrobeats track featured on an international stage. And indeed, It was an holy grail moment for Afrobeats.

Before then, Afrobeats was limited to the confines of Africa due to Africa broadcast stations’ restricted reach. 

MTV Base’s vast broadcast reach catapulted African Queen to a global audience of over 1.3 people within a few hours of its debut on MTV Base Africa.

Since that historic moment two decades ago, Afrobeats has gained wide acceptance. A few decades ago, it seemed like a remarkable achievement. Today, it seems like an everyday occurrence.

One of the first few artists who featured on MTV Base Africa back then were MI Abaga and Sarkodie. However, the lack of language barriers and significant funding made the trend quite unsustainable.

Fast forward to 2011, P-square, a sibling duo, one of the most established Afrobeats artists at the time, signed a deal with Akon’s Konvict Muzik label.

It was a huge victory for Afrobeats. 

Their fifth album 'Invasion' was released in no time with the label, featuring top international artists such as Rick Ross and Akon.

In 2012, D’Banj released Oliver Twist, which clinched No. 9 on the Official Singles Chart, a significant achievement at the time. In the same year, Ghanaian artist Sarkodie was named Best International Act Africa at the MOBO Awards. A big win for the Afrobeats community.

We knew Afrobeats had come to stay when Drake released One Dance with Wizkid and Kyla in 2016

With over one billion streams, the song became Spotify's most-streamed track ever and had the longest Number 1 single run on the UK's Official Singles Chart.

In 2019, we saw the pop star Beyonce wanting in. As an accompanying album to The Lion King, she produced 'The Gift,' an Afrobeats-influenced album featuring WizKid, Mr Eazi, Tekno,  Yemi Alade among others.

With an increase in revenue from an average of $39m in 2016 to a staggering $73m in 2021, it’s safe to say Afrobeats has reached its peak. Or should we hope for more? 

Like I said, time will tell.

Afrobeats’ Success So Far…

Unlike far back in the early 2000s, Afrobeats is now being recognized globally. 

In recent years, we have seen Afrobeats Artists receive nominations for the much-coveted Grammy Awards. 

Just about a year ago, Afrobeats broke the jinx with Burna Boy and Wizkid winning the highly coveted award in a stunning fashion.

Lately, we have seen a lot of collaborations between Afrobeats artists and Mainstream UK and US artists. 

For example, Fireboy DML recently collaborated with Ed Sheeran on the remake of his viral hit ‘Peru.’ Also, Omah Lay featured Justin Bieber on the single ‘Attention.’

Afrobeats Artists - Rising and Famous Stars

There are a number of talented Afrobeats artists out there. The few proven and established ones are Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy among others.

Interestingly, the Afrobeats community has recently seen the rise of several extremely talented but upcoming artists. A few of them are Tems, Ckay, Fireboy DML, Omah Lay, Rema and many more.

What Led To The Sudden Rise of Afrobeats? - The Story Behind Its Success

In the words of Don Jazzy, a top-tier personality in the Afrobeats space, the rise of social media and streaming apps is one of the few factors that have contributed to the success of the African music industry thus far. In short, Afrobeats is what it is today, thanks to the digital revolution.

“The digital revolution has had the most impact on the [African music] business,” Jazzy shares in an interview with Billboard

“See, when we started, streaming wasn’t even a big deal in Africa. Social media? How many people even had the Internet! Now, everything is digital. Everyone is on social media. Then, I can remember how ring back tunes was one major way of promoting music to phone users. Then, radio and TV were the holy grail for visibility. Now just take a look at the scene. 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.”

Take, for example. CKay’s Love Nwantiti is now the most Shazamed song in the world, thanks to its massive popularity on TikTok. 

The Current State Of Afrobeats 

Afrobeats have definitely taken the world by storm. And it’s very pleasing to watch. 

Within the last few years, Nigeria’s Wizkid, Burna Boy and Davido have all sold out The 02 arena in London or the Accor Arena in Paris.

Without an iota of doubt, Afrobeats artists are killing it on the biggest stage.

But then, it’s worthy to note that not only Afrobeats music contributed to its phenomenal rise over the years; the culture of dance videos has dramatically influenced the unprecedented surge of Afrobeats. 

We also have the likes of Poco Lee promoting the culture of dance in the Afrobeats space.

Interestingly, The Headies - an award dedicated to appreciating top performing artists in the Afrobeats space - plan to hold its award ceremony this year in Atlanta, Georgia

To think it’s the first award edition to be held outside Nigeria is mind-blowing.

Afrobeats Festivals To Watch Out For

There are several Afrobeats festivals to watch out for every year. A few of them (but are not limited to) are:

1. Felabration, Nigeria

2. Asa Baraka, Ghana

3. Capetown Jazz Festival, South Africa

4. Nyege Nyege Festival, Uganda

5. Bush Fire Festival, Swaziland

6. Oppikoppi, South Africa

7. Festival au Désért, Mali

8. Lake of Stars, Malawi

9. Sabolai Radio Music Festival, Ghana

10. Sauti Za Busara, Zanzibar

For more information, click here.


Afrobeats is, for sure, one of the most popular genres in music right now. It has been around since the early 2000s and has grown into an international sensation. 

One thing is for sure: Afrobeats is here to stay. With international artists diving in, how better can it get? Very much better. 

The future of Afrobeats is so promising. And I guess I speak for all when I say we can’t watch it unfold.


Top Afrobeats Songs In 2022

Listen to the Best Afrobeats tracks so far in 2022 on Spotify below:


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