Wed, Jun 15, 2016
No longer confined to the African airwaves, Afrobeat's biggest names have become global superstars in their own right.
With album sales eclipsing one million in its first week alone, it goes without saying that the release of Drake’s Views certainly marks one of the most hyped recent drops on the mainstream music scene. Despite mixed reviews from listeners and critics, Views destroyed all types of records, boasting more than 500 million streams on popular platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. Yet for all the Canadian mega-star’s success in cornering the American hip-hop charts, it’s neither Drake nor his fellow hip-hop artists who are poised to reap the most long-term benefit from Views’ success.
By far the biggest of single off of Views, "One Dance" is notable for its role in confirming the mainstream’s desire to co-opt into has become perhaps the defining club music trend of the past 18 months: Afrobeat. Putting a Western twist on the classic compositions of legendary African artists such as Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade, Afrobeat artists now find themselves leading, if not shaping, the East Coast's newfound obsession with Africa's sounds and face-to-face dancing.
Currently atop both the U.S. & UK charts, “One Dance” marks the second collaboration between Drake and Nigerian mega-star Wizkid, the first being Drake’s 2015 feature remix of Afrobeat smash “Ojuelegba.” And with "One Dance"’s Afro-infused melodies having taken over the airwaves heading into the summer months, we’ll be sure to see other American pop icons following the trend.
Some, such as “Trap Queen” singer Fetty Wap already have, his “Your Number” collaboration with Yoruba artist Ayo Jay going viral as song of choice for Vine dance montages nationwide. This year alone has seen two other Afrobeat tracks make striking inroads into American DJ rotations with Davido’s “The Money” and Mr. Eazi’s “Skin Tight” both topping iTunes’ Most Downloaded list within the past six months.
DJ’s aren’t the only ones taking note. Last summer, Rolling Stone magazine published a startling feature on DJ Tunez, a Nigerian-American DJ who has risen to notoriety as the architect of Afrobeat's newfound dominance on the East Coast.
To cap it all off? This past January, Davido, arguably the biggest artist on African soil, signed a monster $1 million deal with Sony Entertainment, capping off years of growing interest in African artists as means of tapping the region's rapidly expanding entertainment industry, especially as more initiatives are launched to connect Africans to the internet in greater numbers. And if recent social media posts are to be believed, fellow Afrobeat stalwarts Wizkid and Tiwa Savage aren't far behind.
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