Afrobeat is a genre that implies the mixture of components or elements of West African musical varieties including highlife and fuji music with western jazz and subsequently funk and soul influences, we’ll highlight the importance and why afrobeat deserves a grammy award main category.
In this post, we’ll analyze the global recognition of afrobeat and the eligibility for Grammy award category inclusions and other global billboard charts level.
Out of 84 Grammy categories, afrobeat is only attached to the best ‘global music album‘ category which is reticent to non-European and indigenous traditions for a genre that is older than the ceremony itself, that’s quite unfair for a genre associated to the most region of Africa with over 16 countries.
Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti also known as Fela Anikulapo Kuti is considered the pioneer and forefront of the genre, although afrobeat started in Ghana in the early 1920s, Fela launch the movement in the 1960s with his band as a combination of traditional Yoruba music, highlife, jazz, salsa, funk, and calypso.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti made the genre familiar with the world as early as in the 70s, producing about 29 albums from 1969 to the 90s with sold-out concerts in the US, UK, and other parts of the world, yet it received less attention and deaf-ear regardless.
in 1999 universal music France remastered Fela’s album with a global license, in 2005 UMG of the American operations licensed its world-music to the united kingdom based record.
All of the above happened before the introduction of digital streaming platforms and the emergence of the new generational afrobeat musicians on the main space now, now let’s talk about the impact of the new generation of afrobeat on the world level.
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in the 2010s to date, we’ve witnessed a stupendous bridge between other genres and afrobeat, such as hip hop, reggae, electronic music, punk, funk, Latin music, soul music/R&B music, only K-pop is yet to be listed among which will still happen sooner or later, all the aforementioned have their own category in grammy except for afrobeat and newly launched K-pop.
Back in the 2000s, American artists started exploring the genre as they discovered the importance, sampling the beats and other components from the genre.
In 2011, Dbanj was the first afrobeat artiste to established a related connection to an American mainstream act, after signing a contract to ‘Good Music record label‘ owned by Kanye West, it was a cultural reset to an extent, the same year he recorded a song with Snoop Dog, a remix to his hit single ‘Mr Endowed Remix‘ with a visual treatment to the song.
In 2015, Drake was the first mainstream artiste who jumped on the wave, remixing Wizkid‘s Ojuelegba song and from then established a relationship that birthed his hit single ‘One Dance‘ featuring Wizkid and a British singer Kyla, the song is a combination of dancehall, afrobeats, and Pop, it was a worldwide hit and first drake song to reach number #1 in 15 countries including UK, US, Canada, France, New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherland, and Australia, topping US Billboard Hot100 for 10 weeks.
Since then the genre became more familiar to the US new generation artists, bridging the gap, influencing churns of record across the world, all these happened in the last decade with other notable activities on afrobeat.
in 2019, Beyonce produced a musical directed film that was curated into a visual album ‘The Gift‘ featuring about seven afrobeat music stars including Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, Mr Eazi, Shatta Wale, and Tekno.
All these events that revolve around afrobeat are enough for grammy category inclusion and not just attachment to a World Music category.