In The Mag

Nigeria’s Big Export: Afro Beat to the World.

Let’s begin with a recent personal story:

Let’s begin with a recent personal story:
“I was in a Metro Station in Paris, trying to buy my ticket for my next trip, when this young man walks up to me and begins speaking French while asking me a question. I must tell you, I am not a very fluent French speaker, so while I understood what he had asked of me (He wanted to know which metro to take to a particular stop), I however panicked and respond in English saying ‘I am not very sure, sorry’. He seemed to pick up my Nigerian accent and smiled excitedly and asked in French if I was Nigerian, and responded in the affirmative. And before I knew it, he was singing a popular afrobeat song and started dancing a currently popular Nigerian Dance ‘Shaku-Shaku’
(better than I could by the way) and goes on excitedly about how he was excited to meet a Nigerian, how much he loved our music and his face was filled with so much joy. I had to leave and so we bummed fist and I departed and for the first time in a long while, I was reminded of how proud I was to be a Nigerian.”

Fela Anikulapo Kuti is the undisputed the King of Afrobeat. The leader of the Kalakuta Republic once said “With my music, I create Change…”. And that he did! His combination of traditional Nigerian music with more modern arrangements realizing a truly distinctive sound, that is cherished globally, was only the beginning of a new wave of music that would outlive him and birth an unshaken legacy. Today, new school Afrobeat artists now have their music listened to and revered all over the world. These Artists include the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Asa, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Olamide, P-Square, Burna Boy, Patoranking, Tekno Miles, D’Banj, 2Baba, Niniola, Bez, Simi, Adekunle Gold and many more. The Afrobeat genre has exploded and through this article we explore how it is indeed one of Nigeria’s big export.
Let’s start with the somewhat “sudden” interest of major international labels in signing Nigerian pop acts over the last 5 years – Roc Nation took on Tiwa Savage, RCA (a subsidiary of Sony Music) signed Wizkid, Sony Music signed Davido and Tekno, etc. In fact, Universal Music and Sony Music have set up shop in Nigeria. This may suggest that the Afrobeat industry is set to become one of the most lucrative ones in the near future.

Burna Boy


The collaboration between Nigerian Afrobeat superstars and major international acts is also another signal of the ever-expanding reach of Afrobeat music. “Come Closer”, one of the hit Nigerian songs of 2017 and the one of the best performing African records of that same year, is sung by Wizkid and features popular Canadian rapper – Drake. Other popular collaborations include Tiwa Savage’s “Get it Now (Remix)” featuring American R & B Singer, Omarion as well as Davido’s “Fans Mi” featuring American Rapper Meek Mill. Top international DJs and producers like DJ Maphorisa, Rudimental and Major Lazer also worked on significant collaborations over the past few years with top Afrobeat stars like Wizkid, Ice Prince, Jidenna, Mr Eazi, Burna Boy and more.


Nigerian Artists now perform at major festivals around the world. The AFROPUNK 2019 Festival in Paris includes Tiwa Savage and Burna Boy on the line-up; Coachella 2019 also has Mr Eazi and Burna Boy on the list of artists set to perform; The Global citizen Festival 2018 featured Tiwa Savage and Wizkid. Major Dance clubs all around the world now infuse Afrobeat music in their mix to serve the growing demand of the music by popular culture. Afrobeat artists like Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Davido, etc. have been nominated for and in some cases won awards at top international music award events.

The Dances – Galala, Swoh, Yahooze, Alanta, Kukere, Shoki, Shaku-Shaku, Zanku etc. While the names of these dances are quite questionable and begging for their most likely “epic” origin stories, they have slowly infiltrated the dance scenes around the world especially the most recent ones which are related to the Afrobeat vibe. A most recent example is a clip of Paul Pogba, one of the players of the French National team, dancing “Shaku Shaku” during an interview right after winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Tiwa Savage


The Afrobeat music industry is fast growing, but there are still some barriers to overcome like the heavy piracy associated with the Nigerian music industry, which makes it extremely hard for artists to directly make revenue from only selling the music. Also, the establishment of standardized processes for proper music publishing, songwriter protection, etc. are still underway as the Nigerian music industry develops. However, we must be reminded that this is only the beginning! Afrobeat has gone on to inspiring and being infused into other genres and subgenres like Afro pop, Afro Fusion, Afro Hip-hop, Afro House etc. The Afrobeat Movement

Lbelle Paris

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