Afrobeats Is Africa’s Biggest Cultural Export Yet and Here is Why

BY Edwin Lamptey October 6, 2023 5:56 PM EDT
Photo Source: , @burnaboygram, @temsbaby

Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Spotify’s chief executive for sub-Saharan Africa has praised the efforts of Afrobeats acts and has indicated that the new music genre can be considered as one of the biggest cultural exports from the African continent.

 Afrobeats, the trendy genre of music, has kept millions on their feet in the last dozen years and spurred the introduction of an African music category at the Grammy Awards. Streaming of the new African wave reached 13 billion on the popular streaming platform, Spotify.

The milestone is an acknowledgment of the road traveled by Afrobeats, the loose grouping of many sounds within Africa with influences by the Black diaspora, that has now spread from dance floors in Lagos and Accra to some other places in Africa and transcended the continent.

 Afrobeats can confidently be described as one of the biggest cultural exports originating out of the African continent and is definitely impacting the music being made both on the continent of Africa and on the international stage.

By its very nature, Afrobeats is a combination of different sounds, which is blended beautifully with other musical styles, as well as collaborations with artistes from the continent and around the world. A case in point is the collaboration between Selena Gomez and Rema on the worldwide hit song, Calm Down.

The recent introduction of an Afrobeats category at the MTV VMAS 2023 awards which was won by Rema and Selena Gomez is probably also, in large part, due to the massive popularity of the new genre and the likes of Amapiano across the world right now. Grammy has also created an African music category all thanks to Afrobeats and Amapiano.

The most streamed Afrobeats song of all time on the Spotify platform is Rema’s Calm Down collaboration with Selena Gomez, for instance. But if you look at Davido’s collaboration with an Amapiano producer like Focalistic, for instance, you can see how the music is really crossing borders and breaking boundaries.

Afrobeats, aside  influencing other genres of music, is obviously having so much impact on fashion, food and even the languages spoken in Africa. Through Afrobeats and Amapiano, the way of life of the people of Africa is being exported to people in the world at large.

The genre and its lyrics which often incorporate West African languages like Pidgin, Yoruba, and Twi is a testament that the genre is not just music for the sake of music, it’s culture, too.

The African diaspora and the desire to connect with some part of home has played a part in how this genre has spread, but its popularity also has a lot to do with its feel-good nature. Most of the music classified as Afrobeats is upbeat and is associated with good times and celebrations.

The genre is also constantly evolving and its fusion with other genres from across Africa and around the world – like trap, UK garage, and reggae, among others – means that it appeals to people across the world, growing its audience even further.

One would think that Nigeria is the biggest consumer of the genre, but in fact, both the USA and the UK are out-streaming them. South Africa, while not a top 10 market for Afrobeats, is, however, seeing massive growth and streaming of the genre has grown by over 2,000 percent since 2018. When it comes to growing markets, the genre is seeing glimpses of growth in countries like Mexico, The Netherlands, and India.

Afrobeats has come to stay and the wave is taking over minds and hearts.