We take a closer look at Afrobeats, one of the hottest genres in the UK right now.
Afrobeats has been described as “one of the most important scenes in inner-city London”, one of London’s “most exciting and genuine underground subcultures,” and “the next UK hybrid dance music about to blow up.” So whether you live and breathe Afrobeats, or you know nothing about the genre at all, read on for a closer look at its origins and key tracks.
Afrobeats: the global genre taking the UK by storm
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that Afrobeats almost entirely shares a name with another genre: Afrobeat. This is no coincidence. Afrobeat originated in West Africa in the 1970s. Afrobeat pioneers such as Fela Kuti influenced Funk musicians in the USA with their use of cross-rhythms and percussion.
The much newer genre of Afrobeats, currently on the rise in the UK, also originates from West Africa, particularly from Nigeria and Ghana. The term Afrobeats is generally used to describe any of the modern pop music from West African artists, and artists worldwide with West African heritage.
The genre has been rapidly gaining in popularity around the world, and it is set to be even bigger in the near future. Early Afrobeats hits have come from Wiz Kid, D’banj and Fuse ODG. Inspired by this success, London’s Afrobeats community created a sound that is a unique blend of styles from West Africa as well as the sounds of the streets of London.
One of the UK Afrobeats scene’s leading lights is Mista Silva. Based in London and of Ghanaian origin, Mista Silva had his first big hit with ‘Bo Won Sem Ma Me’, a collaboration with fellow UK-Ghanaians A Star, Flava and Kwamz.
The track features Mista Silva’s now trademark melodic rapping and has the general carefree, partying atmosphere typical of Afrobeats tracks. One year later, Mista Silva’s ‘Now Wats Up?’ was a big hit on the scene, and started to gain more recognition for the genre in the UK.
Still very much in its ascendance, Afrobeats can be heard on many local London radio stations and in clubs all over the city. DJ and producer P Montana has been one of the key champions for the London Afrobeats scene, highlighting the genre in a recent EP and on his weekly Radar Radio show.
For more of a flavour of what will soon be one of the UK’s biggest genres, here is our Afrobeats mini-playlist with a few details on the tracks to help you dive in.
UK Afrobeats: the mini-playlist
1. Mista Silva – #NowWatsUp?
One of the UK’s most important Afrobeats artists, rapper and singer Mista Silva has been nominated for two MOBOs, and won countless fans and critical acclaim. His hit ‘#NowWatsUp?’ was one of the tracks that really made his name. This uptempo, extremely danceable song displays Mista Silva’s silver-tongued vocals to full effect.
2. Kwamz & Flava – Wo Onane No
Two more of London’s favourite Afrobeats rising stars, Kwamz & Flava are known for some high profile features with the likes of Mista Silva, as well as their own tracks like the infectious ‘Wo Onane No’. With simple, minimalist production and a catchy melody, ‘Wo Onane No’ goes down a treat on any dancefloor.
3. Ezi Emela – Confam It
One of the most experimental and innovative Afrobeats tracks to date, Ezi Emela’s ‘Confam It’ really sounds like nothing else. A bold, echoey drum pattern underpins a descending synth riff and Emela’s autotune-laden vocal melody. This unconventional approach to the genre makes the Manchester-born artist one to watch.
4. P Montana ft. Iraymvmt (Jaij Hollands & K Weezy) – Back to Sender
As one of UK Afrobeats’ biggest supporters, P Montana knows a thing or two about the genre. That’s why his P Montana Loves Afrobeats EP was such a success with the genre’s fans and newcomers alike. His own Afrobeats productions, including ‘Back to Sender’, display the DJ’s exquisite taste and knowledge of what makes Afrobeats great.
5. Mista Silva – Murda
Mista Silva’s latest release, ‘Murda’ is on track to be one of his most popular tracks yet. With a feelgood, summery vibe, ‘Murda’ is all about killing negative energy and living life to the full, the perfect summation of UK Afrobeats’ ethos.
Book Mista Silva or P Montana now to make your venue a part of this increasingly important movement.