Afrobeats is the Nigerian sound taking over pop music


This is a song you already know. It’s “One Dance” by Drake, a huge hit from two years ago. But pay attention to this part of it. The guy singing is Wizkid. He’s a Nigerian singer. And this moment, when Wizkid sings on this track, was a huge deal for a musical genre
that is taking off all over the world. It’s called Afrobeats. Afrobeats music is the sound of Lagos, Nigeria. It’s high-energy, autotune-heavy, with a constant percussive beat and a sort of electro-hip-hop sound. – Turn up! But it’s also way more than that. Afrobeats is a story of a people, a sound, and a technological revolution transforming
pop music around the world. It’s the story of Africa’s cultural influence,
and its music industry, on the rise. It’s the story of how one country’s music went global. I’m Yomi Kazeem. This is Quartz. This is Wizkid. He’s one of the biggest Afrobeats stars in the world. And this is SARZ. He’s the brains behind a lot of Wizkid’s hits,
and a ton of other Nigerian pop hits. He’s been producing for a long time. – When he performed the song, everyone went wild. – So that was your first big hit? – First smash hit, yeah. Today, SARZ is one of the top Afrobeats producers out there, and he’s a big part of why Afrobeats sounds the way it does. By the way: Afrobeats is not Afrobeat. The S is important. Afrobeat was Fela Kuti’s big band, jazz-style,
Afro-funk music in the 1970s. Afrobeats is completely different. It’s electronic, catchy; the sound of urban millennial Africa. And it isn’t political: Afrobeats lyrics are mostly about love, sex, and money. SARZ says the secret weapon of Afrobeats
is basically just one thing: The beat. – The beat just has to move you. Nigerians are a very impatient people. Once that rhythm stops, it’s like “Hey, hey what’s going on?” One of the best examples is “Maradona”
by Nigerian pop star Niniola. “Maradona” was a global hit. DJ Snake remixed it. And SARZ, of course, produced it. He broke it down for us. – I started this beat, I started with the drums. And there’s also this, and obviously the kick drums. This is the base line. I think when I played the bass line,
it just made everything come together. Also, there are keys. And, add her vocals to it, and we have Maradona.” So, as African as this sounds, it also sounds
universal, like anyone can hear this… – …And relate to it? – And relate to it. And for me, that’s a winner. This is The Beat FM, a London radio station
that plays almost entirely Afrobeats. – We’re still in the UK. This is Afrohits on The Beat London 103.6 FM.
Keep it on The Beat! Let’s go! – As soon as it came, it just took over. DBoy and Shopsy Doo are DJs here. And they say this sound is everywhere in London. – The only music they want to hear their parties, at their clubs,
at their events, is African popular music, a.k.a. Afrobeats. The Beat FM is owned by a Nigerian company. Their sister station is one of the biggest stations in Lagos. And if you ask these guys why Afrobeats is taking off
in London, they say it comes down to something big. Bigger than the music itself. – I was born here. I went back to Nigeria when I was 11 years old. And I came back when I was 18. Afrobeats taps into one of the most loyal
and widespread fan bases in the world: the Nigerian diaspora. Any place in the world where there are Nigerians, Afrobeats is big. – The Nigerian diaspora is without a doubt the most important
part of promoting Afrobeats to the rest of the world. Afrobeats has only been able to spread around the world because of YouTube,
and social media, and streaming platforms like Spotify and iTunes. And that’s done something really important
for Afrobeats artists back in Nigeria. It’s allowed them to actually make money from selling their music. – Do you have an iTunes account? – No, I don’t. – Exactly. Spotify isn’t available in most of Africa. And Nigeria is one of lots of countries where Apple’s
payment rules make iTunes almost impossible to use. The main music distribution platform in Nigeria is this: Street hawkers selling pirated music. These guys can get you pretty much any
of the hottest Afrobeats tracks. – You have music? In Lagos, Africa’s biggest city, thousands
of CDs like these are burned every day. And when it isn’t happening in the streets, it’s happening
online, where many young people download free music. – Give me Tiwa Savage. And while it’s informal and unstructured, it’s pretty effective. These guys have found a way to distribute music to the whole country. The problem is that it’s terrible for artists. So even as Nigeria’s music scene flourishes, the
money from sales goes to these guys: the pirates. Which means that Nigerian artists who actually want
to make money from sales have to get big abroad. Otherwise, you can only really make money
from concerts, weddings, ringback tones. But that might be about to change. – The root and the soul of the music is in Africa. This is Ezegozie Eze. He runs the Nigerian branch of the biggest
music label in the world: Universal Music. The Nigeria office is brand new. It just opened this summer. Afrobeats showed Universal that there was money to be made in Nigeria. – Twenty years from now, you’ll have sounds coming from every corner
of the continent. And that’s when we’ll have our industry. Eze wants to build up a music distribution network in Africa that’s so strong, music won’t have to travel to London, or to New York, for artists to make money. African musicians could make money selling their music in Africa. And for Universal, this is bigger than just Afrobeats. – We have so many different sounds, so many different
markets, and we still need to connect to each other. Eze says a continent with more than 54 countries, with over
a billion people shouldn’t be reduced to selling one sound. And that’s what Afrobeats has unlocked. There’s a lot more going on musically in Africa than just Afrobeats. And if Eze and Universal succeed, it won’t just be about getting
Afrobeats singers to partner with big American artists. It’ll be about empowering all African musicians to find success anywhere. Because if the rise of Afrobeats proves anything, it’s that markets from Lagos to London are ready for more. – Right now, more than ever, it’s cool to be African. – Wakanda forever. Have you heard the Afrobeats sound
in any of the music you listened to? Tell us about it in the comments. And also subscribe to the Quartz channel for more videos like this one.

100 thoughts on “Afrobeats is the Nigerian sound taking over pop music

  • February 15, 2019 at 9:11 pm
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    What a wonderful documentary. I'd never heard of this genre before and it's rare that I get to see the face of music like here. This is exactly why I subscribed <3

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  • March 7, 2019 at 10:14 am
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    Guys pls chill out on this origin shit about Afrobeats.. It really mean African music(Sound) and we are all one Africa.. Africans period!
    Yes Ghana has a part to play in it since the beginning ,so also is Nigeria Fela Kuti, South Africa and other parts of Africa nation, Yvonne Chakachaka etc. One Nation One Motherland. Unite Y'all!!!

    Reply
  • March 8, 2019 at 10:16 am
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    Afrobeatz is west African music. Nigeria happens to have the biggest artists. Mind you, Nigeria is a country created out of thin air by british colonialists. But as a people, their history and music goes way back. I bet they share ancestors with Ghanians, Gambians, Senegalese etc. To say that Afrobeatz is Nigerian is a huge falsehood. Nigeria got it's independence in 1960. You mean West Africans and their music didn't exist beyond that??

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  • March 8, 2019 at 10:54 am
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    The afrobeats started in Nigeria is a whole different genre and style of music that is popular now. Afrobeats was a umbrella term we in the U.K. started for music by many different Africans from the diaspora and the continent. From 2004-2008 It's was called HipLife a modern twist of HighLife, an old genre of Ghanaian music and Najia Pop. Azonto music revived these genres in 2011 and instead of separating the genres by countries they were grouped together by Uk and called afrobeats.

    Reply
  • March 8, 2019 at 12:09 pm
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    One dance isn’t an Afro beat song it’s more dancehall

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  • March 8, 2019 at 7:36 pm
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    Wizkid. Is just copying Jamaicans
    Thats all hes ever done. British jamaicans told to brits to help him when he was in bbc

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  • March 9, 2019 at 5:54 am
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    Afrobeats is African Music in general and not just Nigerian Music.

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  • March 9, 2019 at 7:55 pm
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    Nigeria=Afrobeats
    Ghana and other African countries: Afrobeat

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  • March 9, 2019 at 8:38 pm
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    Maradona isn't Afrobeats… Lol

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  • March 9, 2019 at 8:47 pm
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    Would disagree with the claim that afrobeats isn't political .If you listen to Burna Boy – Ye & Dangote; Tekno – Rara or most Falz songs all have extremely political msgs

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  • March 9, 2019 at 9:08 pm
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    * west African music. Ghanaian music is part of Afrobeats pls do your research properly

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  • March 10, 2019 at 4:36 am
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    For the record afrobeats is not only coming from Nigeria it is from almost all of west africa.

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  • March 10, 2019 at 11:10 am
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    afro beat started in ghana get your facts

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  • March 10, 2019 at 12:46 pm
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    wakanda forever

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  • March 10, 2019 at 1:10 pm
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    United States Of Africa

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  • March 10, 2019 at 8:17 pm
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    Nigerian sound?? Lol who gave this guy the go ahead??

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  • March 10, 2019 at 8:27 pm
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    If you have been following music for a long time and not just the past 3 years and if you are honest you would know that afrobeats is originally a Ghanaian sound but Nigeria has made it global. Check all your favorite Nigerian artists earlier work and see the influence from Ghanaian beat makers such as jay Q, appietus, sugatone and many more. Nigerians are very smart when it comes to certain things. I love how the grabbed it and took it to another level. It’s all love. This shouldn’t be another Ghana and Nigerian jollof bs.. this is just the truth of it.

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  • March 10, 2019 at 10:17 pm
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    Loooooool I see the Ghanaians here getting butt hurt over the fact that Nigeria owns Afro beats. Get over yourselves already. If it comes to condemning Nigeria with internet fraud and other bullshit, y'all exonerate yourselves and throw heavy stones. You guys should let us win in peace for once😌 AFRO BEATS IS NIGERIAN!!! You don't see Zimbabwe and the rest in the south claiming House music

    Reply
  • March 11, 2019 at 12:56 am
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    Reggaetom also was stolen from us African people!! They take it and make look like they created!!

    Reply
  • March 11, 2019 at 10:25 am
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    I'm African American & I love this music! Everyone that I turn it on to falls in love with it. Was wondering if u guys can put together a show in Atlanta! Play it & they will come. Pleeeeeeeeeze! I love Ajabutter2's voice & flow. I believe he's from Ghana. Kinda jazzy.

    Reply
  • March 11, 2019 at 7:12 pm
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    why yoall show a Ugandan artist at the end of the video while talking about " Nigerian " sound

    Reply
  • March 12, 2019 at 12:38 am
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    Can't credit one country for a sound that represents and draws from different African sounds. Popularized but Fela but it didn't originate in Nigeria! It's a fusion of different African sounds. Yes the biggest Afro beat artists outside of Africa today are Nigerian but get your facts straight!

    Reply
  • March 12, 2019 at 4:28 pm
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    Honestly artists have the same problem in the USA. They make the real money from concerts only. Its the same problem everywhere.

    Reply
  • March 12, 2019 at 9:13 pm
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    A Nigerian singer using Caribbean slang

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  • March 12, 2019 at 9:59 pm
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    Yes, thanks Universal! The artists definitely should be able to make money from their music 🙏 Hopefully, a day will come when Nigerians will be able to make lots of money in their own country and not have to deal with the pressure of having to go international.

    Reply
  • March 14, 2019 at 2:14 pm
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    Amuzing

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  • March 14, 2019 at 10:02 pm
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    Afro beat is not only Nigerian ,is west African thing… Nigeria did not start Afro beat ,,

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  • March 15, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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    I love it, I live in Hawaii, born in New York. Good news story here. Leah Tunkara

    Reply
  • March 15, 2019 at 8:15 pm
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    Even though I go to West Africa from America, The Gambia is the country I love but I must get my Afrobeats from Naija !
    NOT ALL MUSIC FROM AFRICA, MOVES ME, NIGERIAN 'love songs' are THE BEST, better then America's SORRY ASS.
    Tell them do not copy Black American RAP Artists, that music is weak. Leah Tunkara from the U.S

    Reply
  • March 16, 2019 at 6:52 am
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    The Artist would make more money if the music can be used in American feature film SOUNDTRACKS, I love Afro beats and West Africa! more then likely I will find my next husband there, from the U.S Leah Tunkara

    Reply
  • March 17, 2019 at 11:56 pm
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    If the people at Universal Lagos are smart.They will learn the ropes of the game and create an indigenous distribution firm to secure the African music market.

    Reply
  • March 18, 2019 at 12:19 am
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    If people are saying that not only Nigeria does afrobeats, then where tf was it created? Americans do mexican music, dosent mean it’s fuckin theres. Mexico created the music. A ton of countries can do afrobeats. BUT NIGERIA CREATED THE GENRE, Its not that hard to understand. People just can’t admit it because afrobeats is so popular and everyone wants to claim it. Culture vulturing

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  • March 18, 2019 at 12:20 am
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    Thats like Nigerians saying they started coupe decale! Obviously its ivorian. It dosent sound right for a Nigerian to say it right? Exactly! So stop doing the same to afrobeats and nigeria

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  • March 18, 2019 at 12:43 am
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    For most people here West Africa means Nigeria ( or Ghana).
    Nice….

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  • March 20, 2019 at 3:20 am
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    Please Keep the non Black out of Afrobeat

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  • March 20, 2019 at 5:20 am
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    Cuando escucho afrobeat o afropop mi mente sale de este planeta tan monótono. Saludos desde Honduras, máximo respeto para Zars y Wizkid lo escucho desde 2010.

    Reply
  • March 20, 2019 at 9:04 am
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    🔥🔥 🎯

    Reply
  • March 20, 2019 at 2:52 pm
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    Its not NigeriaBeat its afrobeat

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  • March 20, 2019 at 4:59 pm
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    I am absolutely in love with Afrobeats and Nigeria. How exciting to see the future prospects for where this genre is going.

    Reply
  • March 20, 2019 at 10:16 pm
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    FL Gang!!!

    Reply
  • March 21, 2019 at 9:09 am
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    What we sing today is afropop not afrobeats. Only about 1% of artists sing afrobeat. Only Seun and femi kuti i know of

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  • March 22, 2019 at 7:51 am
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    Is the beatFM online also?

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  • March 24, 2019 at 10:06 am
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    Great doc, thanks

    Reply
  • March 25, 2019 at 3:42 pm
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    It's great documentary but it's not about Africa it's about one country please understand that Africa is several countries not just one country Africa is a continent not a country

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  • March 30, 2019 at 10:33 pm
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    afrobeats is nothing but stolen sound from congolese, angolans, south africans, ivory coast, and Jamaica. the biggest musical culture vultures in black face. It wont last long anymore, many of us from the original countries you stole the sounds from are seeing your games, (big up stylo G and popcaan) enjoy while it last. Afro house will be the dead of afrobeats

    Reply
  • April 3, 2019 at 11:39 pm
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    As a musician from West Africa it's great to see a docu about Afrobeats.

    Reply
  • April 5, 2019 at 2:32 am
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    Afro beats is a whole lots of different beats from Africa, the carribeans and even urban American beats combined together, sometimes when I listen to some songs I can get traditional drumming like from a festival in my village…. It's sooo cool

    Reply
  • April 13, 2019 at 11:08 am
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    Dam boi

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  • April 13, 2019 at 10:05 pm
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    wow the producer guy is using fl

    Reply
  • April 15, 2019 at 5:57 pm
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    Evil music that is

    Reply
  • April 15, 2019 at 9:17 pm
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    It’s true. Afrobeats is everywhere in London. Everywhere.

    Reply
  • April 16, 2019 at 2:08 pm
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    Afrobeats Is Nigerian.. Afrobeat is West African.. Afrohouse is South African.. Afro is the rest of Africa.

    Reply
  • April 16, 2019 at 3:57 pm
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    Universal music is t series of africa

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  • April 16, 2019 at 10:40 pm
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    also Senegal..

    Reply
  • April 19, 2019 at 3:07 pm
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    "Afrobeats" as a contemporary genre is a NIGERIAN-ORIGINATED sound. Sure, West Africans share similar music instruments, vocal style so some patterns will always be recognizable. I mean, everybody raps, and rap may be rooted in African vocal rhythms, but it is a distinct African-American genre.

    I love my Ghanaians… but una like to claim too much, jor! Carve out a niche and Nigeria is more than happy to celebrate you our cousins as well 🙂

    Reply
  • April 19, 2019 at 3:28 pm
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    Rock, metal, punk etc. sound the same to many. But sophisticated listeners will point out the nuance and innovation in each. For those saying Afrobeats is "African/West African", you actually do our arts a disservice. There are many unique sounds (cadence, breaks etc) from West Africa. Afrobeats is one such sound that originated in Nigeria and popularized mainly by Nigerian artists.

    Reply
  • April 19, 2019 at 3:42 pm
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    "Nigeria originated from Ghana… so did Guinea and Guyana." – Ghanaians #GhanaLogic

    Reply
  • April 19, 2019 at 3:45 pm
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    "Nigeria spelled backwards is Ghana, true story" – Ghanaians #GhanaLogic

    Reply
  • April 29, 2019 at 2:47 pm
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    Nothing good comes out of Africa. This is just some African guy promoting African music (which isn't that good or it would spred like wildlife like any other type of good music) and most likely with a hidden agenda.

    Reply
  • May 1, 2019 at 5:00 pm
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    I hate, and absolutely hate sound that is computer generated and inane, and i hate inane lyrics as with rap, even without computer generated noise, because they are inane.

    Reply
  • May 2, 2019 at 2:10 am
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    fruityloops bro…FRUITYLOOPS.. That's lit.

    Reply
  • May 2, 2019 at 10:01 pm
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    sounds dumb

    Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 5:04 am
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    congolese music is the basis of all african music afrobeats is nothing New

    Reply
  • May 11, 2019 at 8:10 pm
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    Illuminati in West Africa

    Reply
  • May 26, 2019 at 2:21 am
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    big love for my nigerian and fellow african people at large…

    Reply
  • May 27, 2019 at 2:39 am
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    Sarz is a madman. Niniola can confirm this

    Reply
  • May 27, 2019 at 2:12 pm
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    Hip life is Ghanaian, Soukous is Congolese, Makossa is Cameroonian, Rai is Moroccan and Afrobeats is Nigerian.

    Reply
  • May 28, 2019 at 4:47 pm
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    Why is it not African at all it’s just a copy of Jamaican and Black American style

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  • May 31, 2019 at 7:28 pm
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    What about Central Africans???? 😔

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  • June 22, 2019 at 8:15 pm
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    Nigeria did create afrobeats😂 whether y’all like it or not😂😂

    Reply
  • June 30, 2019 at 2:23 pm
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    this sound like mexican tribal music Eric rincon is a GOD

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  • July 5, 2019 at 2:35 am
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    What he is talking about known around the world were many like me did not hear about until now…..and I listen music ..mix from around the world and mostly famous are Latin music….around the world….not that I will not listening

    Reply
  • July 5, 2019 at 5:41 am
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    Let's stop this shit. Afrobeat was founded by Fela Anikulapo Kuti of Nigeria.. It was high life then. But now afrobeat belongs to west Africa especially Nigeria and ghana. We can slightly add south Africa. French speaking Africans sings soukous

    Reply
  • July 6, 2019 at 5:52 pm
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    When will you guys make documentary about techno ?

    Reply
  • July 20, 2019 at 7:12 pm
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    How to get good quality files?

    Reply
  • July 23, 2019 at 3:40 am
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    Afrobeat is from Ghana 🇬🇭
    But Afrobeats is from Nigeria 🇳🇬

    Reply
  • July 24, 2019 at 2:40 pm
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    Wow! The only thing remaining for Nigeria is to have patriotic , Visionary Leaders and she will become a super power 😭😭

    We have the entertainment, resources, culture, man-power, intelligence

    God bless Nigeria 🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬

    Reply
  • August 1, 2019 at 12:01 pm
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    Too many butthurt ghanians and other Africans in the comments. Afrobeats is Nigerian. Una go dey alright las las.

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 5:25 pm
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    LOVE, SEX AND MONEY. WATCH OUT. JESUS CHRIST IS COMING SOON.

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 1:33 pm
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    I love your post! 👍

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 11:52 am
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    correction..Afro beats is not Nigerian but African collective sounds..Nigerian being one of it, we have many popular Afro beats being played today from Nigeria and also South African…

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  • August 24, 2019 at 2:05 pm
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    I want to understand something. Is Afrobeat with an s now a genre. And you're wrong if you say it's a Nigerian sound. It's like you describing a relay race and say Obi won the race because he was the last person to hold the baton to the finsh line. It's a whole team effort starting from about 5 or 4 African countries but GHana and Nigeria receive all the credit because they popularised it.
    Nigeria receives much more credit because The NIgerian artistes and other industry players went in harder.
    Afrobeat itself originated from GHana in the 1920s and got to NIgeria in the 70s.
    And the term Afrobeats was coined by a British Ghanaian DJ called DJ Abrantee so y'all check your facts.

    Reply
  • August 30, 2019 at 12:12 pm
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    If I’m honest not the biggest Afro beats guy, more of a grime guy

    But it’s cool a music genre is coming out globally from a region that isn’t exactly the norm

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  • September 1, 2019 at 11:59 am
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    Street hawkers are no longer the main distribution platforms ofmusics in Nigeria. Most songs if not all are downloaded from websites and blogs atm.

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  • September 12, 2019 at 12:19 am
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    Listen to love me lil Tecca

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  • September 29, 2019 at 2:56 pm
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    Unfortunately, this is so wrongly named. You add an "s" to an already established genre(Afrobeat) and you call it a new genre of music. This is so dumb. It's like adding an 's' to Reggae , making it Reggaes, and then say it's a new genre.Or Taking Jazz and add an "s" to it making it Jazzs and then call it a new genre of music. It's such a shame that Nigerians allowed those who have no clue about African music to name their genre for them. This music should be named Afro Pop Or Nigerian Pop music… Just like the Koreans have K – Pop. All these music are popular music. Leave Afrobeat out of it completely. Afrobat was established by Fela as rightly said, and it's made up of Jazz and African rhythm. This so wrongly named Afrobeats have nothing to do with Jazz and so should not steal the name of an established genre and then add an "s" to it. This is nothing but pluralising Afrobeat. It doesn't make any sense. I'm sure people who know the reality will understand what I'm saying. If for example Beyonce does a track similar to this wrongly named Afrobeats, she will not call it an Afrobeat track. It will be classified as pop. Please get this right. To be honest I just think Afrobeat was used because it has already been made popular by Fela and has been accepted world wide. The new generation artists are just riding on the name, but because they know they are not playing Fela's kind of music, they think by adding an 's' to it will make the difference. Fela will be turning uncomfortably in his grave right now from what they have turned the name of his genre of music to be. Let's wait and see how highlife will later become highlifes, Calypso as Calypsos OR Rock as Rocks.. The lists goes on!!… lol.

    Reply
  • October 3, 2019 at 6:41 pm
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    Drake is not anymore a culture vulture he is now a Curator….

    Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 4:55 pm
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    What’s the difference between dancehall and afrobeats

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  • October 7, 2019 at 10:02 am
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    BIG AMERICAN ARTISTS…whatever ALL THAT WILL SO IS SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF THE MUSIC THEN THROW IT IN THE TRASH WHEN ITS EXPLOITED…SAME OLE SAME OLE…

    Reply
  • October 19, 2019 at 12:32 am
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    I'm black but I can't stand afrobeats. I used to listen to it in the early 2010's before it got popular in the west in the last few years. It appeals to hoes. Proof in 1:22

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  • October 20, 2019 at 12:31 pm
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    But what about kizomba music?

    Reply
  • October 20, 2019 at 12:44 pm
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    Old Michael Jackson songs are much better

    Reply
  • October 23, 2019 at 4:47 am
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    i just added maradonna to my jog mix after this vid lol

    Reply
  • October 27, 2019 at 9:59 pm
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    Thank you for making the distinction between Afrobeat and Afrobeats. Think many they’re interchangeable

    Reply
  • November 5, 2019 at 6:44 pm
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    ghanains make demselves look stupid everywhere i go

    Reply
  • November 11, 2019 at 11:07 pm
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    Updated Fela!❤️🌹🥳🥳🥳🤗🤗🤗😇

    Reply
  • November 21, 2019 at 4:53 pm
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    Israel Adesanya, he's dancing afrobeats, taking it to the audience…. But hey, who we kidding Stylo G, Jamaica, killing as always.

    Reply
  • November 23, 2019 at 10:09 am
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    To the utter surprise of the Nigerians and South Africans turned out that Africa is a bit bigger than just Nigeria and South Africa…

    Reply
  • December 5, 2019 at 6:01 am
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    According to history fela who created the whole afrobeat movement is a Nigerian but was brought to Ghana by his mum, that was were the whole afrobeat movement begin, because in Ghana fela joined/create a band that sings an afrobeat music, he was the band leader and fela later go backs to Nigeria to continue the afrobeat movement. Infact before that time afrobeat style of music already existed in west africa but Fela Kuti made it more popular in both Ghana and Nigeria. So if you are wondering why afrobeat is huge in Ghana and Nigeria, wonder no more because history got the answer to your wonders.

    Reply
  • December 10, 2019 at 12:59 pm
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    the guitar is the cherry on the cake why did you did not deconstruct that XD

    Reply

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