MTV Base Musicology will air an exciting new episode that features the age old Afrobeat vs. Afrobeats debate on Thursday, July 26 at 8 PM on MTV Base. Hosted by VJ Ehiz, the new episode gathers key stakeholders and practitioners in the music industry to share insight on the Afrobeat vs Afrobeats debate, analysing the upside, downside and how to fix the issues. This episode’s panel made up of singers; Ade Bantu, Omawumi, Black Magic, veteran media personality, Olisa Adibua and celebrated DJ Xclusive, will also attempt to provide answers to many more questions.
In global pop culture, Africa is the new cool, and Nigeria happens to be the coolest kid in the family tree – courtesy of our contemporary music.
In the words of Nigerian rapper, Reminisce, “they are coming for the rest of us”. The world is coming for Nigerian music. Nigerian urban music has ‘blown’ – this can be proven by the numerous laudable feats that our musicians have attained in the past years, as well as growing interest from foreign record companies who are now opening offices in Nigeria and signing local acts. What has however, followed the meteoric rise of our music is a biting case of identity crisis.
The term ‘Afrobeats’ is the label that has been placed on contemporary African music by international media. The term which is an adaptation of the revered Afrobeat genre that was created by late African music legend; Fela Anikulapo Kuti was said to have been coined by a UK-based Ghanaian media personality DJ Abrantee, to serve as an umbrella identity for contemporary African music.
This label has since grown wings of its own to become the prime identity of contemporary African music – so much that African rappers have also been referred to as “Afrobeats artistes”. Over the years, many have argued that just like pop music, contemporary African music is influenced by an array of global and local sounds, therefore our popular music should be referred to as simply ‘pop music’ just as is done with Beyonce’s who is American, or One Direction from the UK.
Considering that not all Nigerians have welcomed the “Afrobeats” tag, regular debates continue to rage about the merits and demerits of accepting the label. What are the actual downsides to the Afrobeats tag? Has it done more good than harm? What threat does the Afrobeats label pose? Does it by any means preserve or damage the legacy of Fela Kuti?