Nigeria: when afrobeats hook up with global pop stars

The magic of Afropop, or Afrobeats made in Lagos, lies in a clever balance between musical styles, neutrality of texts, and a commercial approach based on collaborations. A way of doing things well known in the world of rap, which is called featuring.

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Nigerian Wizkid on stage at the Afrorepublik festival in London, May 2018. He is one of the great stars of Nigerian music. © Getty Images/Ollie Millington

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In recent years, afrobeats has done well thanks to a logic of repeated collaborations. "There's a bit of a kind of strategy, which is that these logics of featuring have helped to pull the afrobeats genre towards something much bigger in terms of audience, we saw it with Wizkid and Drake. Afrobeat artists help them to take a step forward and reach the international and global world in terms of listening. And American artists also help them reach Africa, or Latin America when it comes to reggaeton," saysjournalist Simon Clair of Trax magazine, which specializes in electronic music.

What explains the success of Afrobeats, "is that lyrics are easy to broadcast anywhere. There are no insults or stuff like that, it's still very soft. Then, there is something very simple in the composition, in the rhythms, and which, suddenly, is easy to broadcast everywhere. And at the same time, there is still a backstory, something behind it, there is a country that is taking back its piece of the cake in pop music. So, I think it's a lot of things like that that make it seductive, because it also takes up, anyway, a lot of American pop codes that make us already have the listening standards.


► Read also on RFI Music: "Afrobeats is the new pop": back on a global phenomenon

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  • Nigeria
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