Afrobeat Vs. Afrobeats—Two African Musical Sounds The World Should Know About

What Is The Difference Between Afrobeats and Afrobeat?



Have you ever heard of Afrobeats music? We’re guessing not. Most of us think of Afrobeats as the new generation of African pop, or a style of music that is brand spanking new. And while it certainly is all of those things, it actually has its roots in something much older: its big brother called Afrobeat.

When younger generations hear the term Afrobeats, they automatically associate the musical genre with artists like Wizkid, Davido, or Burna Boy. And while each of them are making waves in their own right and bringing awareness to the culture, it’s important to note that this style of music has been around long before people were screaming out “You don’t need no other body.” (Yea, it’s in our heads now, too).

Before we dive into their differences, let’s take a step back and honestly examine what Afrobeats is. You see,

Afrobeats is actually a fusion of afrobeat (a Nigerian based beat) and hip hop. Though this seems obvious when you look at the artists that keep populating the genre, there are actually some distinct features that might not be known to everyone.

The History Of Afrobeat From Africa To The World

Afrobeat is a genre of music that originated in Nigeria during the late 1960s. It was created by Fela Kuti, who used it in his band Africa 70 as a way to express his anti-colonial views and opposition against dictatorial regimes in Africa. Afrobeat uses elements from various genres including jazz, funk, highlife, traditional African music, and Nigerian folk music.


The sound that is known as Afrobeat is credited to Nigerian musical artist Fela Aníkúlápó-Kuti. Kuti, the pioneer of the genre, was heavily inspired by the emerging jazz scene during his time in London in the 1960s. While he was in London for school, he decided to drop out and return to his native land— Nigeria— to develop his own musical aspirations.


In order to gain notoriety in Nigeria's music scene at that time, Kuti formed a band called Africa 70 that included American saxophonists Tony Allen and Frank Collins (among others). The band quickly gained popularity within Nigeria's underground music scene by performing at nightclubs and theaters. Soon after, Kuti was arrested on charges of currency smuggling and sentenced to five years in prison where he developed songs about his experiences during incarceration


Some of the earliest examples of Afrobeat are found in the music of Fela Kuti. As noted above, Kuti's sound was heavily influenced by American jazz and funk music, especially that of James Brown. However, Kuti also incorporated elements of traditional African music into his compositions.


Another key distinction of Afrobeat is that it often involved a full band, including saxophones and guitars. This was very different from most other African pop songs at the time which were typically performed by a single singer backed by percussion instruments such as drums or maracas.


In addition, Afrobeat artists tended to use electronic instruments instead of acoustic ones. Fela Kuti was one of the first African musicians to use synthesizers in his songs, something that was quite unusual at the time but has since become more common in popular African music (and for that matter, popular music all over the world).


The Rise Of Afrobeats



Afrobeats has become a global phenomenon due to its unique blend of musical styles and culture that resonates with people around the world. With the rate of consumption of afrobeats alone, it’s safe to say that Afrobeats is here to stay!


Afrobeats is currently one of the biggest music genres in the world. Every time I hear it, it makes my whole body move, and so I am sure it does for you too. After all, it's known for its infectious rhythms, powerful vocals and meaningful lyrics. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise: Afrobeats is certainly here to stay.

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