Today will mark the launch of the UK’s first-ever Afrobeats Chart; a move that reflects the meteoric rise of the genre’s popularity in recent years.
According to the Official Charts Company, Afrobeats artists collectively spent 86 weeks in the Official Chart Top 40 in 2019, compared to 24 weeks in 2017.
Afrobeats music cannot be separated from African culture. The genre powerfully encapsulates the essence of Africans. It is known for the unique rhythm that has captured Africa, and now other parts of the world.
Afrobeats artist Naira Marley says: “The genre is a force to be reckoned with.”
Over the years, it has risen steadily in popularity.
In 2012, D’Banj’s hit “Oliver Twist” reached number nine in the UK charts.
Drake and WizKid’s “One Dance” topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for ten consecutive weeks following its release in May 2016. Despite this song itself not being an Afrobeats track, the feature of Wizkid brought attention to the Afrobeats artist, and consequently Afrobeats music.
Beyoncé’s album “The Lion King: The Gift” — which she described as her “Love letter to Africa”– features Afrobeats artists including Wizkid and Tiwa Savage.
Fuse ODG, another renowned Afrobeats artist uses his music to encourage the betterment of Africans all over the diaspora. He is the founder of the TINA movement – which stands for This Is New Africa. He “urges Africans in the Motherland and the diaspora to use their skills to rebuild their community and show the world the more beautiful side of Africa”.
Manchester-born Ezi Emela is one of several female artists taking huge strides. She moved to London to pursue her music career, and after a holiday in Lagos, she felt the urge to stay in the Motherland.
“My sound has grown so much since I’ve been here,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat, from her home in Lagos.
She also says “I can see Afrobeats becoming the world’s biggest musical genre soon”.
Kofi ‘Funkz’ Kyei of MOVES Recordings, contributed to the formation of the chart. He says: “It has been amazing to witness over the past decade the sheer growth in African music.”
The Official UK Afrobeats Chart will give new audiences a taste of African culture, whilst providing a platform for the promotion of up and coming artists.
The move serves as an admission that the global adoption of the genre is more than a mere fad.
Afrobeats is here to stay.
(This article first appeared in The West African Times)