British People and Europeans Embracing New Wave of Afrobeats

Lately, there has been a considerable showcase of Afrobeats in the mainstream media with a number of hits topping several charts worldwide. It is widely known that the US and European demographics are often the first to get hit by most kinds of global relevant pop moments. Gangnam Style, hello! Often the US and European industries help amplify these moments with religious trend following populations, big commercial machinery to spread the word and of course a vast amount of bars and clubs for people to jam to popping sounds.

Abbie Huff and Courtney 010

Stepping to some Afrobeats: Abbie (Abroni) @huffsterrr

D’Banj’s GOOD Music backed “Oliver Twist” was arguably the first song to break the mould internationally in the current era of pop-Afrobeats, playing on several major UK and US radio stations and also in bars and clubs across the world. With a mystical set of visuals, the song got a lot of people wondering who this pidgin spitting rapper/singer really was, and wanting to know more about the genre, dances and culture. This was when Azonto was the dance you would be ashamed you weren’t able to do at any African party. At that time, songs were being rolled out in high volumes, featuring the Azonto move and/or named after it. The likes of Fuse ODG, Wizkid and Sarkodie endorsed the Azonto with various tracks of their own and the tracks obviously ballooned. Fuse in particular caused the dance to go viral, with different fan recorded street videos coming out and associated with his two major numbers, Azonto and Antenna. Antenna still rocks several scenes to date and recently reached top 10 status on iTunes following a Wyclef Jean endorsement.

Moving to Afrobeats: Courtney

Passion for Afrobeats: Courtney @courtneyadeniyi

In Britain, Afrobeats is being embraced slowly but surely. Walk into any circular club or party, you are guaranteed to hear big Afrobeats club bangers such as Antenna and of course Oliver Twist. English, and indeed caucasian (white) males and females can be seen in most cases, attempting to move to the Afrobeat vibes when they get played. Diasporaw.net witnessed one middle aged caucasian female trying to demonstrate to her fiends (in their 20s and 30s) how to groove to Antenna, on the middle of the dancefloor in a bar in the North-West of England. Further to that, we met two caucasian girls from different southern parts of England at Nigerian heartthrob Iyanya’s concert, who both were given an opportunity to go onstage at various moments during the show. One of them walked off a winner from an Afrobeats dance-off contest, which featured other wonderful performers. She enthralled the crowd with her proficiency and harmony with the Afro beat. The other girl got a chance to share the stage with Iyanya himself before the end of the show. Subsequently, we decided to arrange a ‘reality check’ session with the girls. We filmed them dancing and also interviewed them (coming soon) dancing at a location in Manchester, UK.

The girls, 24 year old Abbie (twitter: @huffsterrr) and 21 year old Courtney (twitter: @courtneyadeniyi) puzzled us with their grasp of the Afrobeats movement, and even more with their understanding of the African music, culture and way of life. Below is a video of them doing a dance off (Obroni vs Oyinbo) to Sarkodie’s U Go Kill Me . They were so on point with their moves and showed us how it’s done. Without having met before until this day (even after Iyanya’s show), the girls jelled very quickly and managed to give us a well coordinated and friendly Afrobeat dance-off. This came as proof that African music is all about bringing people together and having a fun-time. It was clear from the passion of the girls that Afrobeats is the thing of the moment and indeed the future. The sun was blazing African style but but they danced with so much energy and genuine passion.

Abbie has an affinity for Ghana and hopes to move to Africa one day. After having visited Ghana, she ended up immersing herself with the music, culture and fashion. Infact, last night she performed alongside Atumpan at a concert in London. Abbie is the Obroni. For the record Atumpan is said to have just signed to Ministry of Sound records, and re-released ‘The Thing’. He also got a number of caucasian people doing remixes of the song, including Todd Edwards who has previously worked with daft punk. His goal is to internationalise the thing…  Courtneyon the other hand is married to a Nigerian gentleman and loves everything Nigerian, she has learnt to speak Yoruba and Pidgin by association. She is the Oyinbo. She also hopes to move to Nigeria one day.

Lydia and Babsi are also a pair of caucasian girls that will give a lot of African girls a run for their money on the dance-floor, when it comes to moving to Afrobeatz. The girls are most famous for auditioning for Iyanya’s video and dancing to Kukere with precision in their audition video. Lydia was born and raised in Munich, South Germany and has been passionate about Africa, particularly Ghana since she was very young. She is 18 now.

One of the first European caucasian individuals to loudly embrace the Azonto is the unmistakable gentleman who goes by the name of,  The Vujanic. His face is familiar to many after having made a cameo in the video of D’Banj’s Oliver Twist. This came after he had posted a video of himself on youtube, dancing to the Azonto in the streets of London, before the move had become mainstream club material. The Vujanic is originally from the Balkans and he is popular in social media circles for his comedy and association with African culture.

One wonders whether the current state of Afrobeats is temporary, or whether or not the genre has peaked and will go down soon, or if it is still going strong. Like one wise lady we interviewed recently said, Afrobeatz is not a fad, artists just need to be careful how they dilute it, they shouldn’t dilute it such that the originality get’s lost. She also said, like Hip-hop, Afrobeatz  is a culture because it comes with the languages, the food and the fashion.

We think it is time Africa exploits what it is really made of. There are people from different races, countries and continents that are already looking at and following the big things that are being done at the moment by some young and passionate individuals. If all is done well, African music, fashion and culture will become more mainstream than ever. Africa has what it takes and like Abbie and Courtney said to us, the packaging is important, and bringing other parties from outside to collaborate (internationalise), but of course, carefully.

With individuals such as Wizkid, Sarkodie, Fuse ODG, Ice Prince, Toya Delazy and others who have the passion, the drive and creativity, the future is very bright. People are being brought into the frame of Africa and it’s culture via a number of appealing musical anthems by these artists. Fela the originator of Afrobeats, set the foundation and now these young artists have remodeled it to compete in today’s pop scene and they are taking it fowards. Afrobeats can do it like how Reggae/Dancehall, the music of the small island of Jamaica, which has a population of just over 2 and a half million but it’s music and culture appeals to an audience of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

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