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T.B.T: Most Influential Afrobeats Tracks of All Time [part1]

Afrobeats has grown into a highly coveted genre of music—  the whole world now pays attention to what Afrobeats artists have to offer. Before this time, Afrobeats has recorded minute yet laudable success across the African continent and beyond with several of its forerunners breaking into the international/intercontinental scene. 


In this article, we talk about some of the most influential Afrobeat tracks of all time. This list is one millennials will relate to much more than Generation Z.


Millennials come forward. Gen Z, just sit back and enjoy while you wait for your turn.


1. Zombie by Fela Kuti

"zombie no go go unless you tell am to go"


You're bitten by pangs of nostalgia when you hear the intro to this track. Historical. Amazingly Artistic. Insanely Influential.  


A lot has been written about this song. And it's inarguably the sound that gave birth to the afrobeat genre. This song is intriguing, first for how Fela gave an African twist to a mixture of Jazz, Funk & Soul and Blues. A review on The Sonic Collection described the song as  "a bombastic, funky, percussive and soulful journey into another time and place". 


Truly, the song is highly spirited— it is like a portal to the past and the present at the same time. Second, for the theme it addresses— a highly politically conscious song released when the military has a stronghold in Nigeria. It is believed that Fela "sacrificed" his mother as a consequence of this song. 


Regardless of the story, it is already evident that Zombie is the most influential Afrobeat track of all time thereby making Fela the father of Afrobeats. 


A lot of Afrobeats artists have sampled the song and several other students in Nigeria and abroad have attempted a study of the song as projects, class assignments et al. 


Pitchfork Media ranked it number 90 on their list of the 100 best albums of the 1970s. The album which houses the song was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Amazing, innit? Another cool thing is that the song has appeared in the video game Grand Theft Auto: IV.


2. Somebody call my name by Daddy Showkey

Do you think song-invented dances came with Zlatan? Think again. bloody golden morn pikin said, "no". Ever heard of Daddy Showkey? 


Showkey has been in the Nigerian music scene since the early 1990s and peaked around the early 2000s. He is known as a standout proponent of the Ajegunle Ragga sound— an afro sound that borrowed from the Jamaican Reggae. He and other acts like Danfo Drivers, African China, Baba Fryo, and Marvelous Benjy were forerunners of the style. This style was the benchmark for "street songs" in the early 2000s. 


Showkey popularized the galala and konto dance in his age as most of his music videos came with performances of those dances.  


“Somebody Call My Name” was the kind of song that made you scream, "Showkey!" as you danced in different styles to the melody. 


sorry, kapaichumarimarichupako generation.


3. Olufunmi by Styl Plus


Indomie generation, I'm not sorry if you can't relate, but this track is one of the most influential afrobeats tracks you'll ever listen to in your entire lifetime. Olufunmi is one of those tracks that laid the bricks for the foundation of the modern entertainment powerhouse that we have now. 


"when I said to you, that I never want to love another woman,..." Thank you for completing the lyrics, true millennial.


Styl Plus did an amazing job with Olufunmi especially as they made it the biggest track requested on radio between 2003-05. Many compared the group to all their faves overseas, but they remain unique afrobeats artists.  


"Olufunmi ooo, ma pa mi l'ekun ooo, Olufunmilola…"


With the release of Olufunmi, the bar for Nigerian music was raised so high that many began to believe top-notch quality could break out of the country. 

 

I'll pause my heart for you & You'll be the only one to make it move 


An Astonishing, timeless and beautiful track. 


4. African Queen by 2face Idibia


Released in 2004 under the Kennis Music label, African Queen was the most influential track of its age and remains one of the most iconic love songs to ever come out of Naija—it's 2021 and it still slaps really hard! Friggin Timeless and beautiful.


"you captivated my soul, now every day I want you more"


I can hear the millennials sing along. Gen Z too can relate 'cause they saw the song in 10 Day in Suncity. 😂


The Face 2 Face album released by 2face Idibia in 2004 owed much of its success to this lead track. The track made an impact across Africa and Europe as well. It's unarguably the track that gave 2baba his pivotal start as an incontrovertible Afrobeats legend.


Although the Afrobeats genre hasn't been well-pronounced at the time of its release, African Queen is a mixture of Nigerian folk music and hip-hop; which is what Afrobeats is.


5. Raise the Roof by Jazzman Olofin & Ayuba

Another 2004 classic jam. 

If you jammed to this song in the club, you should be married with kids now. 'cauuuuse! Talk about evergreen— this song is timeless. Absolutely influential classic. 


it's bubbly oh, e je ko ma bubble oh/ shuku shuku bam bam, / eni to ba wù kó bè eyin ti ijinle pam pam/ throw your hands in the air, Raise the Roof 


Jazzman Olofin did a number on this song with the delivery. He laid down the vibe of what a party jam should look like in the early 2000s. This track raised him from 0 to mega-stardom 💯; tell me about Raising the Roof. 

 6. My Car by Tony Tetuila 


Only Gen Zs will argue that this isn't one of the most influential Afrobeat tracks of all time. For the artist, Tony Tetuila, My Car is his most successful track of all time even though he wasn't alone on this one. He featured Pasto Goody Goody, one of the generation's rap artists.


you don hit my car, oyinbo repete/ you don bash my car, gbese repete


This song was particularly influential not just because it was on everybody's lips. Rather, it was influential because of its unique storytelling style. Although utterly basic, it has an easy-to-follow flow which made it a hit. 

7. Bizzy Body by P-Square 

P-Square had every club and party speaker buzzing with Bizzy Body in 2005/06. One would have thought they wouldn't be able to outdo the success of the track as it was the track that brought them to the limelight. 


If I catch you / I go turn you on / When I grab you / To the breaking down / You go lose control / Bizzy body oh oh oh


A mix of swagger, eros, and a bit of macho vibes, both the original track and remix featuring Weird MC had massive influence as club bangers and remain timeless tracks that would get you in your dancing shoes the minute they come on. 


8. Why Me by D'banj

"but it was a one night stand, baby don't you understand"


Why Me was a major 2006 hit. Although D'banj was already making waves before its release, this track further heightened the influence of the Koko Master in the Afrobeats scene. 


Some have argued that this track— and D’banj & the MoHits—marked a watershed moment in the Nigerian music industry.  It changed how songs were made with artistic brilliance as the primary factor. Thenceforth, music was made with commercial viability in mind. And it went on to succeed. 


Nonetheless, fhe track is remarkable for the astuteness Don Jazzy showcased on the beat, the dopeness of the lyrics, the mouth organ in between, and the "two fingers in the air" Why Me/Yahooze dance. 


na only leg work una sabi these days. no hand job (cleanse your mind with hypo if you're thinking XXX).


9. Gongo Aso by 9ice 

Before 9ice, no other artists used the Yoruba language as powerfully as he does with a blend of proverbial lyrics. 

 

"Gongo Aso / kutupu awu / anywhere I dey now..."


With the release of Gongo Aso in 2008, 9ice paved the way for other Yoruba artists to get onto the scene with their creative style. With the song gaining popularity, 9ice was asked to perform at the Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday Tribute concert in London, the United Kingdom in June 2008.


This song earned him the award of the Best Hip Hop Artist of the Year at the MTV Africa Music Awards. He also won Artiste of the Year and Song of the Year in the 2009 edition of the Hip Hop World Awards (now Headies Awards).


10.  Pon Pon Pon by DaGrin

"ọmọ Naija ni mi, Naija lo bi mi sí / Naija ni mo ti bẹrẹ sí ní ká ABC"  was the Nigerian anthem in 2009/10. 


With Pon Pon Pon, DaGrin revolutionized the rap game in Nigeria and opened the way for hardcore Yoruba rappers to burst into the scene, especially after his demise. 


This track is incontrovertibly the most influential Yoruba hardcore rap song. To date, its influence cannot be ruled out as many upcoming artists still use this as a benchmark for their rap game. 


Gen Z, we're sorry we're not sorry for putting you in the back seat today. We'll get to you in the next episode. For now, selah!

Finding Harmony in Unexpected Places: The Making of Tar1q

Many artists are defying the stereotypical path to stardom— love music from birth, join the choir, make music often then, have a big break. Tar1q's journey isn't paved with childhood choirs or years spent honing his craft in dingy studios. It's a story of self-discovery, of finding solace in music during moments of solitude, and of a unique sound that blends the power of Afrosoul with the raw emotion of soul. Specifically, he's gone from being a geology student to carving a niche for himself in Afrosoul 

Music wasn't a lifelong dream for the ChocCity Signee, Tar1q. It snuck into his life a little over four years ago, a beacon of light during a period of introspection and "too much alone time," as he puts it. But instead of dwelling in loneliness, Tar1q turned to writing. Words flowed freely, weaving stories and emotions that resonated deep within him. It was then that the connection sparked— the power of music to transform these written emotions into something tangible, something that could connect with others. 

Tar1q's musical journey has been one of constant evolution. He describes it as a period of "growing, learning, unlearning and self-finding." This exploration is evident in his sound, which he aptly calls "Afro-Soul." It's a captivating blend of genres, with the pulsating rhythms of Afrobeats forming the foundation for Tar1q's soulful vocals that lay bare his deepest emotions. Whether he's channelling the iconic stylings of Kanye West and Michael Jackson, or drawing inspiration from the contemporary sounds of Post Malone and Burna Boy, Tar1q's music is a tapestry woven from his diverse influences. But what truly sets him apart is his ability to infuse these influences with his own introspective lyrics, creating music that speaks directly to the soul.

Tar1q's journey is inspired by the unwavering support of his family— his parents, siblings, and nephews. They are, in his own words, the reason he was "created, to love and cherish them." This love and support serve as his guiding principles, along with his unshakeable faith in God and the belief that it's "never too late to be better." When he's not pouring his heart out in the studio, you'll find Tar1q exploring other passions— devouring books, getting lost in movies, or simply cherishing long phone calls with loved ones far away. 

Tar1q's story is only just beginning. He's a young artist with a wisdom that belies his years, a student of geology with a soul that yearns for musical expression. As he continues to refine his sound and explore the depths of his emotions, Tar1q's music promises to resonate with a growing audience.

Of Love and Unity Wrapped in Melodic Embrace: Taiwo Records Releases Kunle Kuti’s New Single, "Timirin"

Sixty-Nine Records is proud to announce the release of the latest single of Kunle Kuti, the afro-beat/afro-pop and crossover sensation, titled "Timirin.” The song is rooted in a message of love, acceptance, and unity, "Timirin" serves as both a powerful anthem against racism and discrimination and a tender declaration of love and connection.


With its captivating melody and heartfelt lyrics, heavily interlaced haunting guitar riffs and licks, "Timirin" invites listeners on a journey of embracing differences and celebrating diversity. The song's rich layers of instrumentation, combined with Kunle's soulful vocals and the back-up singers, create a mesmerizing experience that resonates with audiences of all backgrounds.


While "Timirin" which is a word that also connotes the phrase “It Doesn’t Matter” may appear to be a love song on the surface, its deeper meaning lies in its interpretation as a call to action against prejudice and bigotry. By crafting the lyrics to be interpretable as both a profession of love and a rejection of racism, Kunle Kuti encourages listeners to reflect on the importance of embracing unity in diversity while standing against discrimination in all its forms.

In a world where divisiveness seems to grow, "Timirin” serves as a timely reminder of the power of love and unity to overcome hate and intolerance. Through this song, Kunle Kuti hopes to inspire meaningful conversations and promote positive change in society.

STREAM HERE AND SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS


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