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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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).
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).
"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.
Remember that moment when you first discovered your passion? For Arktik Kold, also known as Kold AF, it wasn't a specific event, but rather a lifelong journey of creativity that culminated in a powerful four-year musical pursuit. Her story is a vibrant blend of diverse influences, unwavering faith, and a burning desire to push the boundaries of sound, making her an artist worth watching.
Born into a world teeming with creativity, Kold AF, navigates the stage with the confidence of a seasoned artist and the hunger of a rising star. Though her professional journey began just four years ago, music has always been a pulsating thread woven into the fabric of her life. Like a skilled weaver, she blends diverse influences and personal growth into a soundscape that's uniquely her own.
"It's hard to remember a time when I wasn't drawn to music and exploring ways to express myself creatively," she muses, reflecting on her childhood. This innate yearning for artistic expression led her to embrace a world of musical inspiration, where icons like Rihanna, Burna Boy, Sean Paul, Asa, and Cynthia Morgan ignited her creative fire. Their styles, diverse yet connected, fueled her passion for fusion, a philosophy that would become the cornerstone of her own musical identity.
Her journey, like a well-told story, has been marked by "growth and God's favour," as she puts it. It's a narrative etched with sonic evolution, stylistic experimentation, and unwavering brand development. Of course, the path to the stage isn't always smooth. There are peaks and valleys, challenges and triumphs, but Kold AF keeps her sights fixed on the horizon, propelled by a powerful vision.
And what exactly is that vision? It's a vibrant tapestry woven from the threads of dancehall, RnB, and Afro-pop, a captivating fusion she aptly calls "Afro-fusion." But that's not all. Hip-hop and other genres peek through the edges, adding unique textures and surprises. This fearless willingness to experiment sets her apart, creating a sound that's fresh, dynamic, and impossible to categorize.
"Right now," she declares with infectious enthusiasm, "I'm letting dancehall take the front seat, but the fusion remains my core. I can't wait for people to hear this new side of me!"
But music isn't Kold AF's only creative passion. With a spark in her eyes, she reveals another facet of her artistic prowess: fashion. "Designing and styling clothes comes as naturally as music to me," she shares, hinting at a hidden talent yet to be fully explored. It's this multifaceted creativity that makes her such a compelling artist, one who pushes boundaries and refuses to be confined by limitations.