The Afrobeats genre, especially West African music has influenced UK music a lot over the last few years. I’m glad the recognition has been solidified with an Official Top 20 Afrobeat’s Chart, however it is LONG overdue.
I remember being in my teens locking into DJ Abrantee’s ‘Afrobeats With Abrantee’ show every Saturday night at 11pm on Capital Xtra. Abrantee’s show was one of my main sources for Afrobeats, as well as my cousins using various aunties & uncles travelling back to the UK from Nigeria, to help smuggle me in some bootleg CD’s with the latest tunes. I remember my mum walking into the living room and asking me ‘ah *insert my government name* who sings this one? I really like it’ then laughing & questioning further; ‘do you even understand what they are saying…’ – nope, I didn’t have a clue at the time & it didn’t even matter. The fact that I, a British born teen, was so deeply embedded in her culture musically at such a young age – I just knew Afrobeats was going to LIVE in me till thy Kingdom come!
Afrobeats has been an influence in the careers of many of our favourite UK artists – the likes of Burna Boy, Afro B and Kojo Funds, NSG and many more. These artists can now cross over between the Official Top 40 Singles Chart & the Afrobeat’s Chart. Rightfully so too, they are representing us in the main chart’s and now have a shot at earning a slot in a chart strictly dedicated to them. A win in my opinion. The term UK Afrobeats has sizzled out over the years however the sub-genre’s Afro Swing and Afro Bashment have became a more fitting definition for artists such as J Hus, Yxng Bane, Darkoo, Young T & Bugsey and many more.
There have definitely been mixed responses to the new chart. To be fair, I do think the pros of this new chart outweigh the cons! Simply put, this is a win for artists who have been representing this genre, all the DJ’s, presenters, producers, listeners who have been pioneering and championing Afrobeats here in the UK for the last 10 years or more! REPRESENTATION & RECOGNITION is all we’ve ever asked for.
However, we do have some cleaning up to do. Having a glance at the current Top 20 Afrobeats Chart (which is based on data from the last 12 months) – I definitely see why many people are worried about the origins and purpose of this chart.
I personally wouldn’t class a few of the above songs as ‘Afrobeats’, other Afrobeats lovers have been rightfully confused when seeing this too. This probably explains why there are so many questions flying around on social media, whatsapp group chat’s and in my DM’s. Some articulate questions, some straight-up-bad-vibes-borderline-hating – but anyway we never acknowledge the latter. Looking at the list, at the moment it seems as though Afrobeats is subjective?
Despite this, I couldn’t help but wonder how else are we going to acknowledge the sub-genres of Afrobeats? This is the Official ‘UK’ Afrobeat’s Chart – it will need to include UK artists. You can’t deny that this sound is holding weight in this country? Furthermore, for many of these artists their musical identity stems from their African background and culture – to an extent they represent ‘Afro’ influenced music here in the UK.
Now, there IS something we as the listeners/supporters need to do better on. TWO women in the chart’s? Really? EQUALITY Where art thou? We have several Queens in Afrobeats who we need to support, STAN & stream UP people!
Either way, I’m here for this new venture! The Official UK Afrobeats Chart is a step in a direction we have never been in before. Music that is created by African’s in the UK is FINALLY being recognised in the UK’s highest music programme = A BIG WIN. Afrobeats is a genre that can only grow and because it’s coming from us, the African’s – we also define it. In the meantime, we celebrate because this is long overdue! #WeHaveLanded.