• The Rise and Rise of Afrobeats: A Result of Consistency and Determination

Written by: Okoli, David

This continued rise is borne out of a strong determination and consistency to outdo themselves (and each other)

For Afrobeats, major strides have been recorded earlier by Fuse ODG who was the first Afrobeat artist to top the world iTunes chart in 2009, and in the summer of 2011 Dbanj became the Afrobeat artiste to chart in the top 10 of a major international chart when “Oliver Twist” reached number 9 on the UK singles Charts in 2012.

American artists such as Michelle Williams, French Montana, Rick Ross, and Kanye West all collaborated with Afrobeats artists in the 2010s. In 2015, Canadian artist Drake felt lucky and tried his vocals on Afrobeat rave of the moment, “Ojuelegba” and his freestyle gave the genre an international mainstream appeal. A year later, Drake met up with Wizkid and created an Afrobeats-inspired “One Dance”. It was a hugely successful single that became the first song to reach the 1 billion streaming mark on Spotify which earned it a stint in the Guinness book of world records.

Two years after it was released, Davido’s “Fall” became Afrobeats top international song. It reached the top 20 radio hit in America and getting a Gold Certification in the process. “Fall” set the stage for more Nigerian songs to record international success and it didn’t take long before this became a reality. Afrobeats took a huge turn in 2018 when Burna Boy’s single “Ye” caught a lot of American traffic off Kanye West’s album of the same name. This homonymic coincidence led American music fans to discover one of Nigeria’s and Africa’s hottest talents. The artiste's own "On The Low" would go on to surpass "Ye" on YouTube and Spotify debuting in several charts in Europe and other parts of the world.

For Burna Boy, “YE” was the moment he had waited for all his life and from there, the only way was up. He followed it up with African Giant which was an indication of the international acclaim he enjoyed in the past 2 years. He was nominated for the Grammys and was featured by several International artistes. Burna Boy became the poster boy for Afrobeats, bolstering the genre with confidence fueled by his special talent. Burna Boy continued to be the face of Afrobeats and set a new record when he became the first Nigerian Solo artiste to win a Grammy Award when he won with “Twice As Tall”.

Burna Boy’s global success opened the doors for Afrobeats stars to enter the international scene without having to scrape for crumbs. In 2019 Beyonce, Akon and Goldlink released Albums with significant Afrobeats influence and value. Chris Brown got his mind blown enough being featured on Davido’s “Blow My mind”. Chris Brown also had an Afrobeat track of his own “Lower Body” on which he featured Davido. The duo would later combine again on 2020 "Shopping Spree" which also had Young Thug.

Master KG’s Jerusalema remix featuring Nomcebo Zikode was the next song from Africa to disrupt the global scene. The song defiled both language and geographical barriers, thus, becoming what may be described as the 'song of the pandemic.' From the global figure of CR7 to the international stage of MTV Awards, “Jerusalema” was a stunner hit that raised the bar for African artistes and kept the African push for a slice of the international cake.

As “Jerusalema” was bowing out of the international scene, Wizkid’s “Essence” was prepping to take its place. “Essence” received the baton from “Jerusalema” and Wizkid ran the fastest and most impressive lap recorded for an Afrobeat/African music star. It was a good start to the year for Starboy who won a Grammy for his efforts on Beyonce’s “Black Skin Girl”. It was an even better summer for him when his single “Essence” featuring Tems created an infectious feeling that transcended borders. “Essence” topped TurnTable Global Nigerian Song of the Summer Charts all through the duration of the chart. It debuted in the Billboard Hot 100 and also entered the Top 10 of US Apple music Top 100.

The remix with Justin Bieber elevated the song and consolidated its international acclaim pushing it to No. 9 peak on Billboard Hot 100 so far and an entry into Apple Music USA Top 10 which is an enormous feat for Afrobeats. It is a sensational atmosphere, hard to deny whenever “Essence” by Wizkid comes on, it is a fan favorite.

Since the release of Made In Lagos, Wizkid has ascended to a new dimension where he is opening doors that were previously locked to Afrobeats artistes. He is selling out shows in record times like it’s nothing. Starboy has built on the success of those who hustled on the international scene before him and alongside him. He has raised the bar and showed younger artistes as well as his contemporaries that the impossible dream is indeed possible.

In the past couple of years, several Afrobeat singles have risen to international fame and this displays a consistency that inspires the belief that Afrobeats is heading in the right direction. From Davido’s “Fall” on US radio to Burna Boy’s “YE” and “On The Low” to Rema’s “Soundgasm” breaking into international mainstream to Olamide’s “Rock” entering the top 10 of the global Triller Chart to the smash hit “Essence” and now CKay’s “Love Nwantinti (ah ah ah) [Remix]” topping several national charts across the world in what is turning out to be the biggest Afrobeats song internationally. Korede Bello's "Like That" recently became the first Nigerian song released under a Nigerian label (Mavin Records) to be certified Gold in the United States - a testament to how even Nigerian songs can move units stateside without being on the lips of everyone or viral on social media.

The continuous rise of Afrobeats internationally, promises to open the genre and the continent to more investment and positioning that will give it the push to become a truly global sound. The determination and consistency from Afrobeats artistes have been rewarded with awards, recognition, mentions on international publications, deals, and sales, it is indeed inspiring to the upcoming music artistes and the general music industry to keep at their best and make Afrobeats a global sound.

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