Fela’s Renegade Children? The Potential for Resistance in Afrobeats

The global rise of Afrobeats has created the need for renewed engagement with the genre’s roots, patterns and political potential.  

Editor's note: This essay is available in our print issue, A New Chapter for African Artefacts?. Buy the issue here.

Afrobeats has recently made strong reverberations on the regional and global stages, with artists such as Burna Boy and Wizkid dominating music charts and transcending previously set boundaries in recent Nigerian musical history. Burna Boy’s Global Music win at the 2021 Grammys, for instance, heralded a new age for the Afrobeats movement. It also highlighted the primacy of the genre at the top of the Nigerian music pyramid. Younger Nigerian artists have also benefitted from Afrobeats’ crossover—iterations of CKay’s ‘love nwantiti (ah ah ah)’ (CKay the First, 2019) have been streamed more than a billion times on Spotify, just as Tems’ feature on the soundtrack for Marvel’s Wakanda Forever testifies to the currency of Afrobeats and Nigerian musicians more broadly in the global music market. The global rise of Afrobeats has, ultimately, meant a stronger...

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