Afrobeats shows how African creative endeavours can succeed by centring African people in their choice of language, themes and imagery. It shows what can be possible when African needs are prioritised. Questions remain, however, about the extent to which the benefits are retained within African economies.
Afrobeats music creates solidarity among people of African descent through a sense of a shared global African identity. This success has been underpinned by music and video production collaborations across global African communities.
The ingenuity in Afrobeats is astounding. Poetic lyrics draw on the wealth of Nigeria’s languages (including pidgin English) to challenge issues such as socioeconomic exploitation (as in Tekno’s 2020 track, Sudden) and sexual abuse (as in Tiwa Savage and Asake’s 2023 track, Loaded). The music blends contemporary sounds and Nigerian instruments, such as the Oja flute (as in Omah Lay’s 2022 track, Soso).
Afrobeats represents hope
Afrobeats offers an opportunity to tune in to visions of hope from younger generations. The genre’s stars often reference the recognisable aesthetics of the period following Nigeria’s independence, between the 1960s and 1970s. In doing so, they are connecting their music to a period of transition and liberation after colonisation.
Consider Wizkid and Tem’s platinum single, Essence (2022), with the box TV, standing and ceiling fans and stone wall. Rema’s Calm Down (2022) also echoes this aesthetic with its wooden framed sofa and beaded curtains.