Afrobeats: Ghana’s Enviable Contribution to the Success of Africa’s Biggest Music Export In Recent Times

BY Kwame McJoseph October 2, 2023 10:47 PM EDT
Photo source: Instagram - @iamkingpromise, @fuseodg, @kidimusic
Photo source: Instagram - @iamkingpromise, @fuseodg, @kidimusic

During the time when legendary Nigerian musicians Fela Kuti and Tony Allen produced the Afrobeat genre, the then-new African sound did not become popular until around 2005.

The new millennium came with new acts emerging and eventually changing the face of the politically motivated style of music. During this time, African musicians especially from Nigeria and Ghana began to name the genre of the music they produced as Afrobeats, adding an “s” to the earlier genre Afrobeat to show the clear distinction.

The term “Afrobeats” is said to have been made popular by a UK-based Ghanaian radio personality DJ Abrantee as he made mention of the word many times on his radio show.

From then on, the genre became a new wave with African artistes riding on its popularity and referred to themselves as Afrobeats artistes. In Nigeria, the likes of Don Jazzy, 2Baba (formerly 2Face), D’banj, P-square, and Mr. May D claimed the new Afrobeats genre as they released danceable songs that began making waves in the West African region.

In another part of West Africa, Ghanaian artistes like Castro, R2Bees, Sarkodie, EL, VIP, and Fuse ODG among others were also producing songs with similar progressions. In both countries, the Afrobeats music began to gain ground, enabling these artistes to headline events in both countries.

A few years later, the likes of Nigeria’s Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Flavour, Koredo Bello, KCee alongside Ghanaian counterparts like Nana Boroo, Stay Jay, Ruff n Smooth, and Tiffany also released Afrobeats songs. Their electrifying Afrobeats records made waves across the West African region and began crossing borders to the eastern and southern parts of Africa.

Nigerian and Ghanaian artistes, from that time onwards, began headlining events in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and other African countries. The music genre also began opening doors for African acts in the United Kingdom and the United States of America for musical concerts.

By 2013, Afrobeats became more popular with the emergence of Nigerian Afrobeats star Burna Boy, Asake, Tems, Ayra Starr, and a host of other Afrobeats artistes.

Evidence of the popularity of Afrobeats

Afrobeats has undoubtedly become one of the most popular exports coming out of Africa and has shone light on the continent. In the past decade, Afrobeats has given Africans the chance to showcase their talent on some of the world’s biggest stages.

The popular African music genre has enabled Africans to be recognized in movies, sports, cultural perspectives among others.

Nigerian Afrobeats musician Davido performed at the 2022 World Cup held in Qatar while fellow Nigerian Afrobeats musician Burna Boy performed at the 2023 UEFA Champions League finals in Turkey. Other big names in the game like Wizkid, Rema, P-square, Tiwa Savage, Rema, Fireboy DML and other Nigerian Afrobeats artistes have also performed at global events.

Ghana’s contribution to the new Afrobeats wave

It is widely accepted that when it comes to Afrobeats, Nigerian artistes have a headstart ahead of their Ghanaian counterparts.

This fact notwithstanding, Ghana has contributed immensely to the growth of Afrobeats music genre. Right from the beginning of the new wave, Ghanaian Afrobeats artistes have made their records heard across the continent and beyond.

From the days of Castro in the early 2000s, Ghanaian musicians have produced hit Afrobeats songs, providing them the opportunity to headline events both at home and abroad.

Ghana’s contribution to the recent popularity of Afrobeats cannot be downplayed and must be pointed out especially since music lovers outside the African continent refer to Afrobeats as a Nigerian genre.

One Ghanaian Afrobeats artiste who has contributed to the new Afrobeats wave is UK-based Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG. In June 2013, Fuse ODG released his first Afrobeats single Antenna which made waves and peaked in the UK singles music chart and the Irish singles music chart. Fuse ODG went ahead to release other Afrobeats songs, most of which went on to become hits in the UK, Ghana, Nigeria, and other West African countries.

Recently, Ghanaian Afrobeats artiste KiDi also produced an Afrobeats song Touch It which became a hit song. Before this was another Afrobeats ‘banger’ from the same artiste titled Say Cheese which became very popular in the UK and the USA.

KiDi’s name together with his song traveled far and wide and got him two features, one with American popstar Tyga and another with Indian female artiste Tulsi Kumar. The official music video of the latter feature garnered 7 million views on YouTube just 24 hours after its release.

Another Ghanaian Afrobeats musician contributing massively to the growth of Afrobeats is King Promise. After releasing hit songs in his few years in the music scene, King Promise released Terminator, touted as one of Africa’s most popular Afrobeats songs yet.

King Promise has enjoyed so much attention across the globe with his hit single. In 2023, the Ghanaian star has already performed at several music events in Ghana, Nigeria, the UK, the USA and Europe.

With a catchy formation dance, to compliment the song, King Promise has drawn a lot of attention to Afrobeats music.

Due to the song’s popularity, King Promise released a remix of Terminator featuring Nigerian Afrobeats artiste, Young John. Meanwhile, a snippet of another remix featuring Nigerian Afrobeats artiste Tiwa Savage has been released on social media by King Promise.

Terminator has become the number 1 song in Africa according to streams by music platform Boomplay. Other music platforms have all ranked the song as one of the most streamed songs in Africa by a Ghanaian Afrobeats artiste.

Source: Instagram – @iamkingpromise

Other Ghanaian Afrobeats artistes Kelvynboy, Camidoh, Kuami Eugene, Darko Vibes, DopeNation, Wendy Shay have all contributed immensely to the new wave of Afrobeats by releasing hit songs across the continent and beyond.