5 Popular Songs That Marked The Evolution of Afrobeats Worldwide

BY Dora Abena Dzaka October 11, 2023 10:26 AM EDT
Photo Source: Instagram/@iambangalee, @burnaboygram, @official2baba

Contrary to Fela Kuti’s upstart, highlife, Afrobeat, pop, R&B, hip-hop, dancehall, and Fuji all had an effect on the creation of Africa’s new sound, Afrobeats.

The genre has evolved over time, serving as a catch-all for a variety of subgenres. It has also assumed many distinct forms, introducing the world to many expressions of Africa through music.

Boy bands like Trybesmen, The Remedies, and Plantashaun Boiz were on the rise in the early years of this genre. Trybesmen (Eldee, KB, and Freestyle) established a rhythm that was both familiar and distinctive with their 1998 hit single Shake Bodi, and they moved to the stage to bring the genre of boy band ballads to widespread popularity. Here are a few tracks that illustrate the development of Afrobeats in West Africa.

African Queen, 2Baba (2004)

This song from 2Face Idibia (now known as 2Baba), who is regarded as one of the founders of “new age” Afropop, was released in 2004 and has been considered a timeless classic. African Queen, one of the most admired African records of all time, evolved from being just another African pop song to one of the most appreciated love-themed songs.

Fall in Love, Dbanj (2008)

This is one of the songs on Dbanj’s second album, Entertainer when the Nigerian act was one of the well-known musicians in the nation. All of Africa at the time adored his collaboration with well-known producer and label head Don Jazzy, as music fans saw the pair as unstoppable. It did not take long for this song to become an anthem for the continent due to its lovely harmonies.

Oliver Twist, Dbanj (2012)

This song has a major position in the history of Afrobeats because it showed many aspiring young musicians that with the right partnerships they could make their music available to a global audience. Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music attracted a sizable number of brand new, global fanbase of African music with the release of Oliver Twist.

One Dance, Drake Ft. Wizkid, Kyla (2016)

One of the most popular songs to ever originate from Nigeria is One Dance. Drake collaborated with Wizkid and Kyla on the project. It later became the most-streamed song in Spotify history until Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You overtook it just after a year in 2017. It’s a dancehall tune with Afrobeats that is regarded as Africa’s gateway to the global music industry.

Ye, Burna Boy (2018)

Ye is without a doubt, Burna Boy’s most popular song internationally. Weeks before it became a smash in Lagos, the US, and other West African cities, the song gained popularity in the UK. It was a standout hit on Burna’s African Giant album and gave the artiste the favorable public perception he needed to advance in career.