Cultural Authenticity IS The Future Of Afrobeats
Afrobeats music has become a global phenomenon, with artists from all over the continent and beyond contributing to its vibrant sound. However, as the genre continues to grow in popularity, it is important to note how the cultural nuances of the continent have influenced and shaped its delivery, first by the artists that are most known for popularizing the genre all over the world and by the new kids on the block who have understood the assignment and are now, more than ever, doubling down on serving the culture at its most authentic form.
It is common knowledge that there was a time when singing or rapping like an artist from the west was a thing with African artists. The more foreign you sound, the more tasteful you are to the palate of the average music loving youth.
Until the turn of the 2010s when the likes of Olamide, Sarkodie, Emtee, Phyno etc. changed the game by delivering hiphop and rap music in their mother tongue, jumpstarting a new wave of relatability that drove the spread of cultural authenticity in this feel-good genre.
One reason for this could be the increase in listenership in the diaspora, being that the more culturally sound and authentic the song is, the more nostalgic and home-y the feeling for listeners, and this of course means these artists get more invites for international shows and appearances, and at the time of writing this, this still remains the highest means of revenue generation after brand ambassadorship deals for these artists.
Another way to look at it is; nobody can deliver music AUTHENTICALLY without embracing and connecting with their roots. So, as an example, no matter how ‘hype’ or ‘hip’ you try to sound, you can never do rap music like the rappers from the Bronx etc.
Asake, Odumodu, and Shallipopi are three artists who are getting so much attention at this time by being the most culturally authentic versions of themselves. Asake fuses traditional Yoruba music with Afrobeats. His songs often feature Yoruba lyrics and melodies, as well as traditional instruments like the talking drum.
Odumodu similarly incorporates traditional Igbo/Bendel sounds into his delivery. His songs are often reminiscent to traditional palm-wine music and has garnered him a cult-like following as well.
While Shallipopi, newest on the scene than the others, is your typical example of the Edo/Deltan man, using catchy puns, melodies and slangs that you can only know about if you interact with South-South Nigerian culture to deliver music that must make you dance.
These are just a few examples of how artists are using their homegrown and authentic experiences to guide their delivery on their music, allowing for the appropriate positioning of Afrobeats music on the global stage. As the genre continues to grow in popularity, it is important that these cultural influences remain at the forefront and it is almost certain that it will.
So why am I going on and on about this you may ask?
First, because I believe that authenticity is the mother of organic breakthroughs. This level of authenticity if maintained will help to preserve and promote African culture. When artists incorporate traditional African sounds and lyrics into their work, they are helping to keep these cultures alive and relevant, leaving very heavy footsteps in the sand of time.
Second, this level of authenticity can help to create a sense of community among listeners. When people hear music that reflects their own culture, it can make them feel connected to each other and to their shared heritage.
Third, this authenticity will help to break down stereotypes about Africa. When people hear Afrobeats music that is rooted in African culture, they are more likely to see Africa as a vibrant and diverse continent with a rich history and tradition.
How can artists stay true to their cultural roots in Afrobeats music?
There are a few things that artists can do to stay true to their cultural roots in Afrobeats music. First, they can incorporate traditional African instruments and sounds into their music. Second, they can use lyrics that celebrate African heritage and culture. Third, they can collaborate with international artists who share their cultural values.
It is also important for artists to be mindful of the way they represent their culture in their music. They should avoid stereotypes and clichés, and they should strive to portray African culture in a positive light.
Afrobeats music is a rapidly growing genre, and it is clear that cultural authenticity will play an important role in its future. As the genre continues to evolve, it is important that artists stay true to their roots and continue to celebrate African culture.
With artists like Asake, Odumodu, and Shallipopi leading the way, the future of Afrobeats music looks bright. These artists are proving that it is possible to create authentic and innovative Afrobeats music that celebrates African culture.