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Nigeria Frontlines the Spread of African Music to the World

For the very first time since its inception, the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot 200 have seen more entries from an African sound in the past two years. This just shows the spread of African music has been widely accepted not just in America but also in many European countries. Now, we’ve got the world endlessly talking about how good afrobeat is. 

Today, we have many of our artists selling out the biggest arenas in minutes and in days. Artists like Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido, CKay, Rema, and the likes releasing songs that top the charts of various countries across all continents. Many of these successes can be attributed to many factors which cannot be summed up to just one. 

Before all of these Afrobeats success stories, there were struggles by artists whose works have set the groundwork for today’s success. Music greats like Fela, 2Face, and the likes whose arts were able to gain some attention from outside the shores of Nigeria and Africa at large. These greats who are in no doubt regarded as legends of Afrobeats also played a big part in this story. 

Memorable Events That Contributed To The Success Of Afrobeats 

Originally from Afrobeat, a sound which was made by a mix of Nigerian and Ghanaian highlife and was spearheaded by legends such as Fela Kuti, Babatunde Olatunji, E T Mensah, and the likes. The sound has been able to gather a little bit of international recognition and that was the beginning of this journey. 

Afrobeats which is a wider scope of Afrobeat has seen every artiste from the country drawing inspiration from Afrobeat and naming their diverse sounds in relation to the original sound such that we now have genres like Afropop, Afrofusion, Afrorock, Afrospirit, and more. With these diverse sounds, artists have been able to churn out amazing and quality songs. 

The next phase of the journey was with the influx of artists in the early 2000s whose songs broke the airwave and spread their reach beyond the country and then the continent. Songs like African Queen and Oliver Twist did really well to convince the international audience that if Afrobeats is given a little bit of attention, it will become one of the greatest sounds on earth. 

While artists like 2Face, D’Banj, and many others worked so hard for the movement, their efforts yielded results but the results weren’t good enough to get Afrobeats to the top it deserves to be. Their art didn’t get enough attention, and they also didn’t get the stack of numbers but one thing they did is that they served as a bridge which makes a little portion of the international audience receptive to Afrobeats. They also served as the stepping stone for the next generation of artists who will be committed to spreading the sound further. 

The next generation of artists took the baton from the previous ones, ran along with it, and never looked back. With good quality songs, endless features, and strategic moves, these sets of Afrobeats artistes were able to penetrate the market, basking on the little fame the previous sets worked for. Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido are the faces of the new African sound. From releasing songs that will go ahead to the top UK and US charts to getting featured on projects by the biggest acts in the world or these international acts wanting to jump on their projects, to selling out the biggest arenas in the world, 02 in the UK, Madison Square Garden in the US, Accor Arena in France, and Ziggo Dome in Netherlands inclusive, to boasting of multiple entries on Billboard Hot 100 & 200, not forgetting a top ten entry on billboard Hot 100. 

Why Nigeria Is At The Forefront Of The Movement 

While we have various artists from Africa who are also doing well internationally, the Nigerian acts have undoubtedly won this success for Afrobeats. It is only proper to also recognize the efforts of other African artists who have also helped spread the movement. Their sounds have also been able to gather traction from the international audience, topping charts in European countries but artists from Nigeria have been able to make themselves a mark such that few of them are now recognized as American artists.  

Recently, Wizkid’s 2020 released album, Made In Lagos became the longest-charting African album on the Billboard World Album chart after spending 100 weeks on the chart. The album also became the first African album to be certified gold in the US. The most streamed song on the album, Essence has been certified platinum twice in the US and got two nominations in the last Grammy awards. During his Made In Lagos tour, he was able to sell out 02 Arena for three consecutive nights, and tickets for each night were sold in minutes, a feat no other African act has ever been able to achieve. 

Davido was able to break into the American market with hits like If, Fia, and Fall which also got certifications. He has been able to sell out 02 Arena more than once and has made himself a renowned name in the world music industry. Burna Boy whose recent hit, Last Last has become an anthem for everyone whose hearts have been broken is also not left out of the mix. After releasing his last album, Love Damini, Burna has been selling out the biggest event halls around the world. At the last Grammy Awards, Burna Boy grabbed his first Grammy and is in pole position to get another one come next year. 

Asides from these three, the newest set of Nigerian artists have also been building their international brands. They’ve enjoyed a very easy passage into the space as the older ones have been able to set the table for them to join in. Rema, Fireboy, CKay, Tems, Oxlade, Buju, and more of these artists have been able to take advantage of the current wave. 

This confirms the role of Nigeria as a country whose indigenous acts have put Africa on the map of music world dominance. Nigeria since the beginning of the Afrobeats movement has proven to be a frontline in this movement and it is no surprise that its artists keep on doing the most. There is no doubt that even in the near future, Nigeria will not back down in the spread of Afrobeats to the world. 

Durotimi Aribisala

Durotimi is a content writer who studied business but finds pleasure in writing. He's an observer, a reader and good listener which makes it easy for him to write just about anything. With over five years of experience, Durotimi have been able to write across different beats such as entertainment, technology, sports, finance, etc.