Unveiling the Diverse and Dynamic Derivatives of Nigerian Afrobeats
BY EMMANUEL CHIDERA AMOKE
When it comes to music, few genres have captivated audiences and shaped cultural landscapes quite like Afrobeats. With its roots tracing back to the 1960s and 70s and the legendary Fela Kuti, often hailed as the father of modern Afrobeats, this genre has gained immense popularity and influence. It’s worth noting that the spelling variation between “Afrobeat” and “Afrobeats” may seem minor, but they represent distinct iterations. While the former refers to the original style, the latter represents a more contemporary and modernized version of the genre. While these terms may sometimes be used interchangeably, it’s crucial to understand their nuances.
Afrobeats, as a genre, goes beyond traditional West African music, incorporating elements of jazz, funk, and highlife. It serves as a fusion of diverse sounds and influences, resulting in a unique musical experience. However, Afrobeats takes this fusion even further by incorporating a wide range of modern international genres such as hip-hop, reggae, dancehall, soul, R&B, and blues. The genre has evolved significantly since its inception in the 21st century, with artists pushing boundaries and experimenting with new variations.
In this article, we delve into some notable subgenres and derivatives of Afrobeats. While some may refer to these as subgenres, I prefer to view them as distinct offshoots that showcase the genre’s versatility and adaptability. It’s important to note that the scope of this research is limited to Nigerian artists and their contributions to the Nigerian music industry, despite Afrobeats’ global influence.
While many of these derivatives overlap, we will delineate their distinctions. Here is a list of some prominent Afrobeats derivatives:
Afro-oja is a recent development in which artists creatively utilize the Igbo flute, known as “oja,” as a prominent instrument. This genre features fluting that produces rhythmic sounds and melodies characteristic of Afrobeats. Notable songs in this genre include “Isakaba” by Kolaboy, and “Ojapiano” by Kaycee.
Afrofusion, the first on our list, has been extensively explored by numerous contemporary artists. This derivative blends Afrobeat with various international genres such as hip-hop, R&B, reggae, pop, and dancehall. By fusing different musical styles across cultures, Afrofusion incorporates international influences into the African rhythm and melody, creating a contemporary African musical experience with global appeal. Notable artists in this genre include Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage, Tems, Ayra Star, BNXN, Ckay, and more. Some popular songs in this style include “Ojuelegba” and “Essence” by Wizkid, “If” and “Fall” by Davido, “Common Person” and “African Giant” by Burna Boy, “Ma Lo” and “All Over” by Tiwa Savage, “Pray” by Victony, and “Running to You” by Chike, among others.
Afro-soul combines African musical elements with soul music, which itself is a fusion of gospel, R&B, and blues. This genre is characterized by soulful, emotive vocals while maintaining a vibrant and energetic atmosphere. Lyrics in Afro-soul often delve into personal experiences, heartbreak, love, relationships, and social issues, connecting with listeners on a more intimate level. Prominent Nigerian artists in this genre include Omah Lay, Chike, Oxlade, Nonso Amadi, Wurld, Johnny Drille, Brymo, Fireboy, and Salle, among others. Notable songs in this category include “Boy Alone: Deluxe Edition” album by Omah Lay, “Boo of the Booless” album by Chike, “Ojuju” and “DKT” by Oxlade, “Goodbye” by M. Anifest featuring Brymo, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Count on You” by Johnny Drille, and “Pieces” by Nonso Amadi featuring Tay Iwar, among others.
Afro-house represents the ideal club music that blends energetic and rhythmic elements of African music, particularly percussion. It combines the rhythmic styles of African music with the electronic beats, baselines, and production techniques of house music. Known for its infectious grooves, Afro-house has the remarkable ability to get people dancing. While it is predominantly dominated by South African artists, many Nigerian musicians have also explored this genre. Notable examples include Niniola, who is regarded as the Queen of Afro-house music in Nigeria, with songs like “Maradona,” “Ibadi,” and “Soke.” Other artists who have delved into Afro-house include Apollo by Victony, “High” by Adekunle Gold featuring Davido, “Hate Me” by Olamide, “Epe” and “Gelato” featuring Efya and Zlatan respectively, “Made” by Kizz Daniel, “Beat of Life (Samba)” by Sarz featuring Wizkid, and many more.
Afro hip-hop combines Afrobeats-inspired choruses with rap verses and hip-hop elements. Notable artists in this genre include Phyno, Olamide, Erigga, Ladipoe, Zlatan, Kaptain, Jeriq, and more. Popular songs in this style include “Ponpon” by Olamide featuring Fave, “Dock Appointment,” “Wahala Dey,” and “Many Nites” by Erigga, “Feelings” by Ladipoe featuring BNXN, “Check Yourself” and “Problem” by Kaptain, “TBDK” by M.I Abaga featuring Sinzu and Erigga, “Pronto” by Ajebo Hustlers featuring Omah Lay, “Holy Ground” by Davido featuring Nicki Minaj, “Hallelu” by Bella Shmurda featuring Zlatan, and more.
Afro-Rap encompasses songs that blend core rap elements with core Afrobeats instrumentation. Notable examples include “Revival” by Ladipoe, “God’s Work” by AQ, “Thieves in Uniform” by Dremo, and “Payment Slip” by Jeriq, among others.
Afrosoca combines Afrobeats with the Caribbean music genre known as soca. Soca music is characterized by joyful, lighthearted, and humorous lyrics, often revolving around celebrations, parties, and enjoying life. Afrosoca has incorporated elements from genres like reggae, hip-hop, and EDM. Prominent Nigerian artists in this genre include Timaya, Runtown, Stonebwoy, Yemi Alade, and Tekno, among others. Notable songs in this style include “Bend Down Pause” by Runtown featuring Wizkid, Walshy Fire, and Machel Montano, “Shake Your Bum” by Timaya featuring Machel Montano, “Better Than Them” by Machel Montano featuring Timaya, “Mating Call,” “Ola,” and “Oh Yah” by Olatunji featuring Runtown, and more.
Afro-swing is heavily influenced by UK rap and drill music styles, incorporating slang, punchy lyrics, and gritty storytelling elements. This genre features melodic sing-song rap flows, catchy hooks, and memorable choruses. Notable songs in this genre include “Afro Highlife” by Fireboy, “This Year” by Jaywon, “Good Woman,” “My Sweetie,” and “Doings” by Flavour, “Selense” and “Osondu” by Cavemen, “Family Issues” by Tekno, and more.
Afro-highlife emerged in the 2000s, with artists infusing traditional highlife melodies and instrumentation with modern production techniques. This genre also borrows elements from hip-hop and R&B. Top artists in this genre include Cavemen, Flavour, Adekunle Gold, Simi, Zoro, and PC Lapez, among others. Songs that fit this category include “Obodo Bu Igwe” by PC Lapez featuring Phyno and Flavour, “All Will Be Well” by PC Lapez featuring Cavemen, “Yo Yo” by Adekunle Gold featuring Flavour, “My Life” and “Oriente” by Adekunle Gold, and more.
Afro-ogene gained prominence through artists like Ogene Boys, and Zoro, who creatively blends the Eastern Nigerian cultural ogene music pattern with Afrobeats. Notable songs in this genre include: “Ogene Rap”, and “Ogene ndi ara” by OgeneBoys, “Ogene” by Zoro featuring Flavour, “Two” by Zoro featuring Mayorkun, “Ijele” by Flavour featuring Zoro, “Ubor” by Ejyk Nwamba featuring Zoro, “Oganigwe ” by Zlatan featuring Odumodublvck and Jeriq, “Levels” and “Game Changer” by Flavour, and more.
Afro-reggae combines traditional Nigerian rhythms, melodies, and instrumentation with laid-back grooves and socially conscious themes of Jamaican reggae. Notable artists in this genre include Patoranking, Burna Boy, Ruger, and others. Songs that fall under this category include “Smoke Some Weed” and “On the Low” by Burna Boy, “Left for Good” by Waje featuring Patoranking, “Suh Different” and “Alubarika” by Patoranking featuring Timaya, “Together” by Rudeboy featuring Patoranking, “Ruger” and “Girlfriend” by Ruger, and more.
Afro-gospel blends Gospel lyrics with Afrobeats, hip-hop, blues, and R&B. Notable songs in this genre include “Most High,” “No One Like You,” and “Chimamanda” by Flavour, “Ojemba,” “Bia,” and “Fada Fada” by Phyno featuring Olamide, “Olileanya’m” by Ugoccie, “Oluoma” by Jeriq featuring Flavour, “Desire” by Limoblaze, “Gold” by Cru Alxndr, Limoblaze, and Torey D’Shaun, and more.
Afro-depression, a sub-subgenre of Afrobeats, is characterized by depressive lyrics flooded with sadness. Omah Lay is considered a prominent artist in this genre, and songs like “Ye Ye Ye” and “Infinity” by Olamide featuring Omah Lay fit within this category.
Afro-porn, characterized by its explicit and suggestive content, incorporates filthy wording and vivid imagery of sexual scenes. Omah Lay and Ajebo Hustlers are notable artists who explore this genre. Examples of Afro-porn songs include “Infinity” by Olamide featuring Omah Lay and “Ye Ye Ye” by Omah Lay.
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