Here are top 7 Nigerian artists who named their music genres.
‘Afrobeats’ is a genre of music that picked up where ‘Afrobeat’, originated by the legendary Fela Kuti, left off. It should be mentioned here that the two – Afrobeats and Afrobeat – aren’t to be mixed up to mean the same thing.
The former––Afrobeats––ends with an ‘s’ and is chiefly used to refer to all ‘modern-day’ Nigerian music (and, lately, African music). In contrast the latter––Afrobeat––is without an ‘s’ and is the genre of music created by Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti in the 1960s.
Afrobeats presently being the most recognized genre out of Africa throughout the world has, understandably, made difficult convincing non-African people that Africa owns myriad genres other than Afrobeats, such as Highlife, Dancehall, Amapiano, Juju music, Fuji music, Banku music, amongst others.
This may be one out of many other personal reasons, I assume, making ‘Afrobeats artists’ categorize their music genres or styles––to stand out. This article thus looks at the top 7 Nigerian artists who have named their music genres.
1. Wizkid – ‘AfroPop’
Afropop, though its origin can’t be traced to a particular period of time, is a music genre – a sub-genre of Afrobeats precisely – that Wizkid has (and has been) identified with, both through his music and in interviews. Wizkid has on different grounds claimed Afropop, and even graced the cover of an international magazine, GQ, introducing him as ‘King of AfroPop’, not Afrobeats. Back in 2017, when he was promoting his then new album ‘Sounds From The Other Side, Wizkid anticipated a day when Afropop would be globally accepted as a genre. See the video of the mentioned interview below!
2. Rema – ‘AfroRave’
From the onset of his career, dated 2019, Rema’s exact music genre has been, to some people, a question needing an answer. Being versatile, he has released songs with influences from Hip-hop, Pop, R&B, Afrobeats, and so on. His eponymous debut EP, for example, consisted of songs with different music styles, ‘Iron Man’ being the most controversial. However, in 2021 Rema came out to announce that his genre would be called ‘Afrorave’ and his debut album, later released the following year, would cement the claim. During one interview in 2022, Rema explained what Afrorave meant and where it came from, saying ‘Afrorave is my own perception of Afrobeats…’. See the interview below!
3. CKay – ‘Emo Afrobeats’
Popular throughout the world from late 2020 to mid 2022, ‘Love Nwantiti’ was an irresistible hit song people danced to. This global smash hit, the second best-selling African song ever (according to Spotify), was recorded, released by Nigerian artist CKay. When you listen to the song, I assume you have, you note that except for its using Pidgin English and Igbo phrases, the song is a different sound. Following ‘Love Nwantiti’ was a full album made out of the same sound. In an interview, and on other such occasions as social media and podcasts, CKay named the sound Emo Afrobeats. See the video of him speaking about Emo Afrobeats below!
4. Fireboy DML – ‘AfroLife’
In Fireboy DML’s last album, ‘Playboy’, is a song titled ‘Afrohighlife’, in which he sings: ‘wetin my people wan hear, Afrohighlife o, Afro’. Afrolife (Afrohighlife) began when Fireboy debuted in 2018 with ‘Jealous’, followed by ‘What If I Say’, and then tried to name his sound. On multiple occasions he has corrected people about his genre, one of these shown below in which he told a music journalist not to define his genre for him. Moreso, while being interviewed sometime in 2022, he said: ‘I wouldn’t call myself an Afrobeats artist to be honest; I am just an artist from Africa. I make pop and I make R&B. In fact, most of my songs have a lot of R&B and Soul influences and Pop too’. See the interview below!
5. Ruger – ‘AfroDancehall’
Though, in actual fact, it’s not a new genre or something never-heard-before, as Nigerian singers like Timaya and Patoranking have been called ‘Afrodancehall artists’ many times before, the term ‘Afrodancehall’ being boldly used by an artist for the first time was by Ruger. In his debut year, in 2021, Ruger confidently called his genre Afrodancehall on Twitter. See the posts below!
6. Davido – ‘AfroFusion’
A versatile artist who often slides between African music (Afrobeats, Amapiano) and Western music (Hip-hop, R&B), Davido in a rarely seen video once talked about his kind of music to be Afrofusion, ‘a fusion of different genres of music into one’. The video has not been seen by many to date, as it looks akin to one of those random interviews, but it’s the truth that in it Davido said, ‘I call my music Afrofusion’. See the video below!
7. Burna Boy – ‘AfroFusion’
If there had been no Burna Boy’s viral interview where he said Afrobeats ‘lacks substance’, this article might not have been written. Burna Boy has, even way before the said interview, called his genre Afrofusion. He first popularly claimed the genre back in 2019 on the Daily Show with famous American TV presenter Trevor Noah. There he explained the meaning of Afrofusion funnily as a ‘pizza’. He said it is a style (genre) that picks from different cultures. In a similar but another, more recent interview, he revealed the reason why he created Afrofusion. Watch the interview below!
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