A timeline of AfroBeats
© Red Bull Content Pool
From its beginnings in the mid 2000s – out of Nigeria’s Naija Pop & Ghana’s hiplife – Afrobeats has emerged as the sound of West Africa.
While its origins can be traced back to Fela Kuti’s legendary Afrobeat sound, and shares its sensibility of combining western sounds with African rhythms, Afrobeats as it exists today with it’s EDM, house, pop, dancehall, R&B, hip hop and trap influences is a sonically different beast and one that has gained the attention in the US and UK. While attributing Afrobeats to a particular person is fraught with controversy, with some claiming the London’s DJ Abrantee coined the term, there are many pioneering moments that have helped catapult Afrobeats out of the continent and into the global consciousness.
Here we look at seven tracks that have shaped Afrobeats and influenced artists from around the world.
2Face - African Queen
Released in 2004, this tribute to African women became a major hit in Nigeria before spreading around Western and South Africa and eventually Europe. The success of ‘African Queen’ in Europe would be a foreshadowing of the coming Afrobeats wave.
P-Square - Do Me
An early Afrobeats act that blew up across Western and Southern Africa, Nigeria’s P-Square emerged in 2003 and would later gain the attention of Akon, leading them to being signed to his label Konvict Muzik in 2011.
D'Banj - Oliver Twist
2012 saw the first Afrobeats single chart in the UK’s Top 10. D’Banji’s ‘Oliver Twist’ also charted across Europe. The music video features Kanye West who had already signed D’Banji to his label G.O.O.D. Music in 2011. The same year would see him release a single featuring Snoop Dogg.
Fuse ODG - Antenna Ft. Wyclef Jean
Representing UK Afrobeats, Fuse ODG was born in London to Ghanaian parents. After spending his childhood in Ghana and returning to complete school and university in London he would return to Ghana in 2011 and was taken by the Afrobeats sound. Returning to London he would record the single ‘Azonto’, dedicated to the dance and Afrobeats subgenre, but it was the single ‘Antenna’ featuring Wyclef Jean which would lead him to charting in the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart in 2012.
Wizkid - Ojuelegba featuring Skepta and Drake
Wizkid’s frequent collaborations with US and UK artists have meant that he is no stranger to charting in these countries. Having worked with Drake, Tinie Tempah, Major Lazer, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, French Montana, Kranium, Ty Dolla $ign and Swizz Beatz his sound his reaching people around the world. Notably Drake’s 2016 Afrobeats inspired single ‘One Dance’ which featured Wizkid and Kyla went platinum.
Davido - How Long ft. Tinashe
Looking to cross over into the mainstream, Davido is one of Nigeria’s hottest Afrobeats acts of the moment. Apart from his collaboration with Tinashe he has also worked with Popcaan and Rae Sremmurd.
Patoranking - Daniella Whine ft. Elephant Man, Konshens
A rising star from Nigeria, Patoranking’s reggae and dancehall influences have seen his sound resonate across the continent and beyond. Having worked with many of Afrobeats biggest stars his latest collaboration sees him working with Jamaican dancehall artists Elephant Man and Konshens.