Afrobeat is a combination of American funk rhythms fused with African percussion and vocal styles, popularized in Africa in the mid to late 1960s. Afrobeat's most famous artist is the Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuti who actually coined the term, constructed the musical structure and shaped the political context of the genre. He launched afrobeat in Lagos in 1968.

There are certain crucial elements to Afrobeat that would be encountered in almost all examples of the genre:

  • Big band: A large group of musicians playing various instruments (Fela Kuti's band in the 80s Africa '70 featured 80 musicians);
  • Energy: Energetic, exciting and with high tempo, polyrhythmic percussion;
  • Repetition: The same musical movements are repeated many times;
  • Improvisation: Performing without set music;
  • Combination of genres: A mixture of various musical influences.

Afrobeat originated from the southern part of Nigeria in the 60s, influenced probably by the American free jazz movement. Fela Anikolapu Kuti went through experimenting different forms of music - first by highlife jazz, and then other forms of contemporary music of the time and local African harmonies and rhythms, taking different elements and combining, modernizing and improvizing them.

Politics is essential to the genre of Afrobeat, since the founder Fela Kuti was deeply concerned in social criticism to pave way to social change. The message can be described as confrontational and controversial, which can be related to the political climate of most of the African countries in the 60s, which dealt with political injustice and military corruption while recovering from the transition from the colonial governments to self-determination.

As the genre spread throughout the African continent, many bands took up the style in the 60s and 70s. The recordings of these bands and their songs were hardly heard or exported to outside the originating countries and can be classified rare. New generation DJs of the 2000s however, made compilations and remixes off of these recordings, thus re-introducing the genre to new generations of listeners and fans of afro-pop and groove.

Representatives of the Genre

  • The seeming heir of Fela Kuti is his son Femi Anikulapo Kuti, however some accuse him of shortening the songs and lightening the context in order to make the music more convenient to Western listeners.
  • The Allenko Brotherhood Ensemble; a remix project featuring Tony Allen, the drummer for Fela Kuti.
  • Lafayette Afro Rock Band; an American band influenced by afrobeat.
  • Peter King
  • Olufunsho Ogundipe
  • Delta Nove; this band from Californa features afrobeat alongside other genres.
  • Andres Levin
  • Dele Sossimi
  • Frank Biyong & Massak (; Based in France this band stays true to the original recipe of african beats fused with jazz & R&B.
  • The Daktaris

References and External Links

  • Slipcue -Afrobeat (




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