African sounds, precisely “Afrobeats” has seen global explosion in the last few years. Afrobeats is a sound that originated in Ghana, a feel of highlife tempo they crafted with drums strings, and keys. Afrobeats was made popular in regions like Nigeria through Fela and it exploded from there. Wizkid, Davido, Tekno the three advancements to the new identity “afrobeats”, rather “Afropop”. They lead the way in turning the world’s attention to our sound with their star power. Afropop is the new sound everyone wants to be associated with, it’s cool, it’s loud, isn’t too strong on content and it’s African. A mash up of ‘young thugs being born in Lagos‘ kinda covers our entire music scene in Nigeria, as these Afropop stars gain more global recognition there’s more pressure for everyone in Africa to sing like this just to gain the sort of stardom they need to grow above the poverty line. Thankfully there’s a New Age of music using this global media Afrobeatsand internet has brought, a new set of fresh minds carving their own niche and sound without giving a damn about what the radio stations want, without caging their sounds to pointless groovy noise laid over highly treated vocals. The new age sound is a messiah for African music.
Back to the main topic, The Fader and all other media outlets pouring attention on our Afrobeats and culture. What does it all mean? I’ve been one to support African owned companies and movements but I won’t shy away from getting globally recognized which is what Fader, Complex and others bring. These brands already cling to black America (foreign African) culture in their countries, they also have their influence and strong follower-ship so it seems sorta natural that they are the ones who introduce the Afrobeats wave into their country which they’ve not failed to do with covers of Davido and Wizkid on their platforms. What’s the catch? Well, they are using us as we use them. Black culture seems to be the rave of the moment and where does black culture come from, AFRICA. Yes, Africa. The continent that has been looked down on as shit for years is getting that global recognition and music is one of our key ways. The more brands like The Fader, Complex, Billboard cover African acts the more they attract and increase their reach on the African reader, a new and sought after market for them. They’ve also gotten deeper, tapping in and seeing the New Age as the next frontier for Africa with The Fader giving a heads up to Lady Donli’s Ice Cream as an example. What I drive at is, we need these brands to help push our content into more regions beyond Africa but we also need to push our content from within first.
The problem is most of these brands watch the culture from afar and aren’t super conscious on what’s really going on. They carry errors in their understanding and mostly push the content cause it’s more users for them (so to speak). We need to push our narratives from our own understanding. Africa has never truly had its culture broken down and navigated. The new age has the opportunity to start from scratch, lay foundations and truly document our culture our way. We should look forward to that as we channel the global spotlight back to our content with narratives told by us. We educate the world on what we are and what we sound like through our own voice. Brands like Harmattan Rain, Lucid Lemons, Radr Online, Unorthodox Reviews, CulArtBlog, BAAB Media, NativeMag are platforms from all over Africa, owned by young Africans doing their best to document these sounds and culture shifts happening within. They hold and understand the light that shines on us all.
I’m not trying to take anything away from The Fader, I only use them as a metaphor. Our culture shines and it’s always smart to be aware of what’s going on. Empowering African media and content especially forms of art like music, fashion, film which are popular forms people use to understand new cultures is really important in giving our Africa the right audience and sparking curiosity from the world consciously. A well-written article pointing out the ethos and vision behind an Odunsi, Lykay, Adomaa song told from a young mind in Nigeria who’s listened to Odunsi since his high school days opens up the heart of that song to its audience, it gives us a true African perspective of what’s happening. This type of media helps a global mind really place himself in our world, regardless of the topic, from love, drugs, sex, politics and what not. Music is a powerful tool and helping these New Age minds navigate their global world by writing the appropriate content will push people in a direction that allows them their fans into hearing more and not see it as mere “groove” for them to pass time with. We have a heart in our art, it’s time we control our words and help people read through.