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Eloïse Dubois




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Description of AFROBEAT

Afrobeat is a music genre that involves the combination of elements of West African musical styles such as fuji music and highlife with American jazz and later soul and funk influences, with a focus on chanted vocals, complex intersecting rhythms, and percussion.

Caracteristics of AFROBEAT

  • Political lyrics

  • Language and culture

  • Large bands

The Afrobeat recordings of Fela Kuti and sons Femi and Seun typically feature a large orchestra-style band,. The brass and rhythm section can be sizable: Africa 70 often featured two musicians on bass and two baritone saxophones, while two guitars handled the melody.

Commentary on African and world politics is a staple of Afrobeat, especially in the music of Fela Kuti and Nigerian musician Lágbájá. Afrobeat music sought to inspire listeners to activism by pointing out societal and governmental issues.

Afrobeat songs are typically sung in West African languages, though Kuti sang in English and Yoruba. Many Afrobeat songs have time structures and lengths more common to jazz or fusion than pop or rock: Kuti often filled an entire album side with a single song.



The history of Afrobeat began in the early twentieth century when musicians from Ghana combined West African regional music with Western jazz and calypso. The resulting new sound became known as highlife, which continued to fold additional Western influences into its heady mix over the next few decades.



Nigerian musician Fela Aníkúlápó-Kuti, who began his career playing in an array of African highlife and jazz bands, absorbed the sounds of soul, jazz, soca, and rhythm and blues during various tours of America and the United Kingdom. He then unleashed this formidable creation in his band, Nigeria 70 (later Africa 70), debuting his unique new musical style in the early 1970s.



Kuti remained a major artist in Africa and abroad until his death in 1997; his son Seun renamed the band Egypt 80 and continued to record and perform, as did Seun’s brother, Femi, who enjoyed a degree of popularity similar to that of his father.


Fela Kuti

The primary architect of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti and his band Africa 70 defined the sprawling scope and relentlessly funky sound of the genre from the early 1960s until his death in 1997. His life and music were the basis for the Tony-winning musical Fela!

Femi Kuti

Like his father, Femi Kuti mixed the hard swing of Afrobeat with political activism for his own celebrated and Grammy-nominated career. He began with Egypt 80 before launching his group, Positive Force, in 1988 and has remained active as a recording and touring artist. Femi has collaborated with numerous Western musicians, including Common, Nile Rodgers, and D’Angelo.

Tony Allen

Drummer Tony Allen recorded more than 30 albums with Fela Kuti and helped define the hard-driving rhythm of Afrobeat. He recorded numerous solo albums and laid down the beat for The Good, the Bad, & the Queen, a supergroup featuring Damon Albarn, the Clash’s Paul Simonon, and Simon Tong, before his death in 2020.

Notables Afrobeat artists

video i

video ii

video iii

This song from Fela Kuti and his band Africa 70 got released in 1972, in their album Shakara.


Lady, from Fela Kuti

This song got released in November 2020, by Femi Kuti, in his album album which has the same name.

Pà Pá Pà, from Femi Kuti

Tony Allen is a very talented drummer, a real star in the Afrobeat world. Here is one of his drum solo.

Tony Allen, drum solo

Afrobeat and Afrobeats are predominantly distinct in sound and genre. Afrobeat is a mix of African music and American soul and jazz. On the other hand, Afrobeats, also known as Afropop, is a loose affiliation of popular music that draws on African and Western music, including juju, dancehall, soca, Naija beats, house, and hiplife, a Ghanian take on hip-hop.

Afrobeats artists like Wizkid, Mr. Eazi, D’banj, Burna Boy, and Davido are featured on numerous popular playlists on music streaming platforms. They have influenced or collaborated with Western pop music artists like Beyonce, Drake, and Chris Brown.

Afrobeat and afrobeats: two different things

Impact on the WORLD

Afrobeats is gradually taking over the music scene on the global stage. The music has caught the ears of not only those on the continent, but the diaspora as well.

The music genre dates back to the 60’s, but was made hugely popular by music Icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Although the Afrobeats genre has been growing since the early 90s, it really took off in the international music scene in 2016.Especially with the collaboration of Nigerian Superstar Wizkid, and Canadian rapper Drake.
The collaboration gave birth to the hit song ‘One Dance’. The song reached number one on the US music charts and became the summer anthem in the US and in the UK.

Afrobeats boasts over 200 popular artists on iTunes alone, with many more who are sure to come out of the continent. In the past few years, Universal Music, Warner Music, Sony Music and Atlantic Records have all signed Nigerian artists and pushed them to markets outside Africa.













Ed Sheran

Some more recent songs

FEla Kuti

"The human spirit is stronger than any governemnt or institutions"


for listening