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Permeating the Globe: Impacts of Afrobeats on Global Culture

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On October 30th 2023, the prestigious Ballon d'or awards 2023 experienced the magnificence of Afrobeats as Rema rocked the Théâtre du Châtelet stage with his hit single, Calm Down.  The self-acclaimed Prince of Afrobeats shook the hands of phenomenal players, nominees and awardees alike, signalling a historic moment in his career as well as the trajectory of the genre. 

Undeniably, Afrobeats, as a music genre, has created solidarity among people of African descent through a sense of shared global African identity. Moreso, with its unique rhythms, infectious vibe, diverse messages, and styles, Afrobeats has emerged as not just a music genre but an instrument of soft power, replicating the Hallyu (Korean Wave) permeating global culture without hassle. 

Throughout its history, African music has always been respected going all the way back to Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Angélique Kidjo amongst others. But these artists enjoyed limited popularity due to their restriction to a certain part of the industry. Today, African sound has now become part of the pop sound in the UK. Check out: the History of Afrobeats.

African music, especially Afrobeats, has seen an unprecedented surge in popularity in recent years, from streaming platforms to live performances, and mainstream pop acts such as Ed Sheeran, Selena Gomez, Christ Brown Justin Bieber and Rihanna (who co-wrote the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever smash Life Me Up with Tems) have been lining up to collaborate with afrobeats stars. The music has gone from a continental frenzy to a global phenomenon, making global superstars out of artists such as Wizkid, Rema, Burna Boy,  Davido, Tiwa Savage, Tems, and Mr Eazi amongst others. And the sounds have been wholeheartedly embraced by the UK and the world at large. 

Global Recognition

Afrobeats is a vital component of African cultural expression and often celebrate African identity. Through its rich and vibrant rhythms, Afrobeats is bringing Africans and the diaspora together.  Nigerian artists have blazed a trail for the continent's musicians through their music in the past decade. 

Interestingly, Afrobeats has become one of Africa's biggest cultural exports, influencing the music scene in Africa and around the world. It has enabled the African diaspora to maintain their cultural ties to the continent as the sound and genre spread globally. 

Furthermore, Afrobeats is making the world listen to African music and bringing attention to the continent's rich cultural heritage. Madonna and Ed Sheeran, for example, are said to be drawn to the genre's sound. 

The genre used to be lumped into the category of ‘World Music’— a category criticized as a dump for anything of non-Western origin. But that has changed. Now, just as K-pop has, African music is taking over the world, driven by Gen Z’s love of stars from Wizkid to Burna Boy to Tems. 

This has been reflected in the official charts where acts like Burna Boy, Rema, Fireboy, Ckay, Libianca and Rema have has top-charting songs and even platinum. Also the creation of an Official UK Afrobeats Charts and Billboard Afrobeats charts give credence to Afrobeats as a force to reckon with. Most incredibly, the creation of Grammy's New Best African Music Performance category shows that African music is commanding attention. 

Afrobeats: A Bridge Between Cultures

Afrobeats has emerged as a powerful tool of soft power for African nations, particularly Nigeria. Sometimes compared to the Korean Wave also known as Hallyu, Afrobeats artists have been able to promote African culture, traditions, and values to the world, fostering a sense of pride and identity among Africans and the African diaspora.

Additionally, Afrobeats has become a bridge that connects cultures across continents. As the genre gains popularity, collaborations between Afrobeats artists and international musicians have become increasingly common. This exchange of ideas and sounds has led to a cultural fusion that transcends borders and brings people from diverse backgrounds together through the universal language of music. From Rema's Calm Down to Fireboy's Peru, Asake's multiple hits and Burna Boy's City Boy amongst others. 

Evidently, Afrobeats has found fans worldwide, from Africa to the Americas, Europe, and beyond, capturing the attention of a truly global audience.

While a lot of the big names in African music are making waves internationally, the UK is also experiencing a rise in exciting home-grown talent with African roots, such as Shaybo, Pa Salieu, J-Hus, Santan Dave, Backroad Gee, Gwamz, and Lucianne amongst others all of who draw from their African heritage to produce unique contemporary sounds. 

Impact of Afrobeats on Dance and Fashion

Afrobeats has had a significant impact on global dance and fashion trends. African dance has always been an integral component of African culture and is often used to celebrate festivity and special occasions. Afrobeats music has given African dance a global platform, making it more visible, accessible and celebrated around the world.

Afrobeats-inspired dance trends have been emerging over the past few years, driven largely by the popularity of the music genre. The dance moves often reflect the rhythm and feeling of the music. Some of them have become viral on social media, inspiring millions of people around the world. 

Asake x Flaunt Magazine 

For example, "zanku" is a Nigerian dance style, which has taken the world by storm. It is a combination of legwork and shuffling with hands over the head. Dance moves like the Azonto, Shaku Shaku, and several other legworks have become widely performed in music videos. 

Afrobeats dance trends are not restricted to Africa alone. In fact, it has created a sense of cultural openness around the world, thanks to the genre's popularity. Dance workshops and classes specializing in Afrobeats dance have become more common in many parts of the world. Dance choreographers combine traditional African dance styles with contemporary dance styles to create unique and expressive dance routines.

Also, African-inspired prints, vibrant colors, and traditional attire have gained popularity in the fashion industry. The fashion side of the has been termed alté subculture. It is a thriving subculture espousing the ideology that encourages young Nigerians to tap into honest self-expression — essentially dressing based on personal sensibilities as opposed to traditional socio-cultural dictates of the country. 

This has been a recurring theme in African music from Fela's sequined/Ankara tight pants with tight shirts to Majek Fashek's typical Rastafarian outfits. There are also more contemporary styles like D’banj's shirtlessness as a sex symbol to P'Squares Michael Jackson’s form-fitting, militant clothing and other unique styles by Tiwa Savage, Ayra Starr, Tems, Wizkid, Omah Lay, Yemi Alade, Burna Boy and Seyi Shay amongst others, some of which have stirred controversies, but has been integrated into global culture.

Afrobeats at Global Performances and Festivals 

The popularity of African music has also translated into ticket sales – African artists travelling across the world to the UK, US, Asia (India and Saudi Arabia) and across Europe have seen huge demand for live shows. Wizkid sold out the first date of his 2021 Made in Lagos tour at the O2 in just 12 minutes, placing him on an elite list of artists including the Spice Girls and Rolling Stones.

Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Davido have also sold out the Brixton Academy and performed in stadiums, elite events like the coronation of King Charles earlier this year, the World Cup and Champions League. And more recently, it was Rema the Ballon D'or ceremony. 

Tiwa Savage’s epic performance at King Charles III’s coronation concert 

This isn't to say it's always glitz and glamour. One of Nigeria’s brightest stars and blazing new cat, Asake, sodd out his first show at Brixton Academy in December 2022 in five minutes. The demands were so high his team had to add two additional shows. Unfortunately, his final show was marred with tragedy—though it had nothing to do with the artist— as two women died and others were injured in a crush at the venue because demand exceeded capacity.

What is clear is the increasing demand for Afrobeats. Also, music festival like Afro Nation have helped to cement the status of headlining African artists. This shows the music world that African artists in the diaspora and back home in the continent, are capable of carrying big festivals across the world, the same way they have been doing in their respective countries. This has now inspired promoters and big brands to back similar festivals across the world.

Social Media, Streaming Platforms and Afrobeats

Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are also helping the surge in visibility, such as for Nigerian singer Arya Starr with her track Rush, Ckay's Love Nwatintin, Burna Boy's Last Last amongst many others. 

@Macks.ellies. Ayra Starr on Times Square

While there is still a long way to go, streaming platforms have also helped the growth of music from the continent. Big streaming services have now entered the market, with Spotify’s footprint now in over 40 territories and Apple Music are curating playlists with local editors and offering dedicated African pages.

Spotify in a recent analysis showed that Afrobeats has grown with over 30 billion streams on its platform since 2017. Similarly, one of Spotify’s most popular playlists, African Heat, which has over a million likes, is curated with tracks from the continent that are making the most noise, and regularly acts as a launch pad for the next big hits across afrobeats, African house, amapiano and other African genres.


In every aspect, from internet to live shows, charts to popular culture, Afrobeats has made its mark on global culture—and demand continues to grow. Most importantly, its recognition as a unique genre worthy of a separate chart category is a massive W but its influence is expected to grow even further. As the world becomes more connected through technology and digital platforms, Afrobeats artists will have increased opportunities to collaborate with international artists, resulting in more cross-genre fusions and global hits. This exposure will continue to broaden the appeal of Afrobeats and solidify its position in the global music industry.

Posted by Abdulazeez A Shomade | Published on 2023-10-31 09:40:40