The debate of how AfroBeat originated has taken a new turn as one of the oppossers of Nigerian Music Legend Fela Kuti reveals facts that proves otherwise.
Mr. Rere Ayodele claimed that the king of highlife music didn’t initiate AfroBeat as many people erroneously believe. He revealed that Fela Kuti actually copied the Ghanaian style of music and improved on it, sparking off the trend that the latter generation artistes turned into the modern AfroBeat.
AfroBeat actually started in Ghana in the early 1900s.
It started off when Ghanaian artistes at that time fused different foreign sounds like the Caribbean music into the Ghanaian Rhythm. At that time, Highlife was the talk of the town in Ghana, and was played by numerous Band’s across the continent’s coast.
One of most popular bands that were knows have to played elementary highlife were the Cape Coast Sugar babies.
Nigeria joined the AfroBeat wave in the 1960s, when Fela Kuti and and his drummer, Tony Allen formed a movement where they fused James Brown’s funk and jazz with Ghanaian highlife, traditional Yoruba music and conscious lyrics.
Fela arrived Nigeria with his band (Africa ‘70) and established a club (Afrika Shrine) where he played strictly AfroBeats for 5 years. (1970-1975)
Fela and his Band then went on a Trip to the United States in 1969, where he met Sandra Isadore (formerly Sandra smith) who introduced him to Articles of several Human right activists in which the one who seemed to catch Fela’s eyes was that of Malcolm X.
It also had a huge influence on his music as Fela was interested in African American Politics.
Fela stayed at Sandra’s house for 1-2 years and spent a lot of time with her. He started reanalyzing his music, then noticed he wasn’t just playing African music, there was something more deeper. He then changed his sound and the message behind his music.
As Fela led a large and tightly scripted band, he focused his message towards condemning the colonial powers that divided Africa, as well as the corrupt systems that kept Nigerian Leaders in power.
His message was very confrontational and controversial. It tackled Political Injustice and military corruption.
As the genre spread throughout Africa, other bands took it up and produced songs out of the style.
In the 2010s, a rise of another musical movement came out of Nigeria with a completely different type of AfroBeat sound, now widely known as Afro Fusion.
In 2012 when D’Banj released Oliver Twist was the FIRST time the sound really took hold in a foreign country.
Huge hit tracks from Fuse ODG like Antenna and Azonto followed.
Ever since we’ve witnessed a lot of Nigerian acts dominate on this new sound.
The likes of Burna Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Yemi Alade etc have been known to fly the flag of AfroBeats and establishing it across different parts of the world.
References: Wikipedia, BBC.