Afrobeat and Afrobeats may sound alike, but there are two different genres of music. Although the disparity, the salient influences are conspicuous.
Afrobeats vs Afrobeat: Many people think Afrobeat and Afrobeats are the same, especially with the dissemination of African music to new listeners beyond the shores of the continent in recent times. Music from Africa is diverse and inclusive, led by genres of various regions.
These include; the Amapiano of the South, Bongo Flava of the East, Chaabi of the North, Afrobeats of the West, and Soukous of the Central Region of the continent. However, popular African music in recent years is often being tagged as “Afrobeats” by the giants of the global music industry and some music fans as well, disregarding the uniqueness and originality of the various genres inaccurately or purposefully classified under it.
The recently launched Billboard U.S. Afrobeats chart is a perfect example, a non-Afrobeats record like ‘Kwaku The Traveller’ by Ghana’s Black Sherif, the 5th song on the chart has been boxed in the same category as ‘Finesse’ by Pheelz, on a supposed ‘Afrobeats‘ chart. Observations like these prompt the question: Is Afrobeats more of a culture than a genre? (A topic for another day).
“Before Abraham, there were men,” permit me to use these words. Prior to Afrobeats, African music has been consistently taking shape, legends like Fela Kuti, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Miriam Makeba, King Sunny Ade, Youssou N’Dour, Sunny Okosun, Brenda Fassie amongst others have been exhibiting the beauty of African music at different levels.
During the aforementioned area, the ‘Afrobeat’ genre was a major player in the African music sphere, and its major proponent was the legend, Fela Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti popularly known as Fela Kuti. Developed in the late 1960s, it had a salient influence on the contemporary Afrobeats style.