Language Will Lead Afrobeats to Global Success06/05/2016
If you aren’t aware of the current rise in Afrobeats music across the globe, then you’ve probably been hiding under a musical rock. Afrobeats is now spreading its wings beyond Africa and the diaspora to becoming a global sound – how is language contributing to this success?
WHAT IS AFROBEATS?
Afrobeats is essentially a modern version of a sound that came out of West Africa in the 70s which became known as Afrobeat. Nigeria and Ghana had a heavy influence on the scene bringing in sounds like jazz, native drums, funk and highlife.
Probably the best known of Afrobeat artists was Fela Kuti. As well as driving the scene forward he also shaped its political consciousness.
If you want to understand Afrobeats, you must understand it’s father Afrobeat.
Afrobeats on the other hand is a modern musical sound that now comes from across Africa. The new sound reflects the generation of artists and the music they would have listened to growing up – in the music we now hear influences from R&B, hip-hop. highlife, dancehall, dubstep and other EDM. The fact that many Afrobeats artists come from the diaspora (e.g. FUSE ODG from UK) also explains the shift in how the music feels and sounds although it still has its particular African shake and rhythm.
Afrobeats is now being produced out of Lagos, Accra, and London.
Eugy x Mr. Eazi
LANGUAGE & AFROBEATS
For linguists, Afrobeats is fascinating. It mixes native African languages such as Yoruba and Ewe as well as pidgin English and the odd borrowing from colonial and other international languages. A multilingual mash-up, Afrobeats is an amazing way of not only promoting our languages to a global audience but also of bringing people into the music through singing in English.
English here is the key.
“When you compare the growth potential of African countries to China and India, the major difference is that English is not the main language in those territories. So despite their numbers they may alienate the rest of the world, that’s the reason why African music and film industry will be the world’s largest.” May7ven
With English now the lingua franca globally, Afrobeats’ use of English really puts it at a great advantage with the potential to explode on the international music stage. Just as hip-hop, R&B and other musical phenomena moved beyond their countries, Afrobeats is now in the same position.
This also spells good news for our African languages – as people take an interest in our music they will start to take an interest in our fashion, our food, our culture and of course, our language!
British-Nigerian Afrobeats star Moelogo