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Christian Adofo talks Afrobeats
The Afrobeats movement is everywhere. Whether you’re listening to DJ Edu on 1xtra, DJ Abrantee on Choice FM, or even flicking through The Telegraph – the infectious beats of the continent’s artists are making a big impact.
We caught up with journalist Christian Adofo, who has written for the Guardian, the Independent, and is the Sports editor at LIVE Magazine to discuss the impact of African music across the World.
How would describe the sound of Afrobeats music?
I’d describe it as a progression from the traditional Hi-Life music which was prominent in the 60’s era in Africa, and now it’s a vibrant hybrid, of European, American and African influence.
What is it about the movement that is so popular?
It’s been a long time coming. The story of D’Banj who used to work as a security guard ten years ago, and other artists who have come from menial jobs have the drive and passion to come to the UK to try to make it in a working capacity. Those artists and producers have gone back to Africa and created a movement which has been popular with those who may be hostile to the West.
Who are at the forefront of the Afrobeats movement?
There’s a whole range, from traditional artists to the labels signing new artists, in particular D’Banj is a high-profile example. Then you have a duo, called P-Square, who are two Nigerian brothers, as well as Sarkodie whose track “You Go Kill Me” which has been popular for around two years now. Then, people like Wizkid, from Nigeria, and Ice Prince, who come from the Chocolate City music label.
Who are your favourite Afrobeats artists?
Sarkodie, he’s really engaging and charismatic character. The reason he’s infectious is because the dance moves, known as Azonto, are taking over in a big way.
You’ve spoken to artists such as Estelle, Tinchy Styder, and the Noisettes. Do you think there’s a growing trend for British artists with African roots to be singing about their African identity, or has it always been there?
It’s been there for a long time. When I was speaking to Sway, he said back in the day that he would spend three months in Ghana, which I can relate too because my parents would always take me to Ghana when I was in primary school. You’d be away for two, two and a half, months, but it made me, and Sway, more proud to see how people are trying to make a better life for themselves, away from suffering.
People are more humble – in 2010 when Ghana did well in the World Cup, especially after England had been knocked out, everyone jumped on the bandwagon of the passionate Ghanaian team.
It seems like everyone is talking about African music at the moment, the Telegraph recently wrote an article called “Could African music save Western pop?” – what are your thoughts on that?
Pop is always based on a trend. So 10/12 years ago, people were looking towards European dance and house, and that formula. Now, it’s Dubstep and it won’t be long before people start looking towards Africa.
Damon Albarn said "African music is the future of music … that's what you're hearing here, the future." Who are the future of African music?
Damon makes a valid point; it’s in genius to create this style of music using software to make a unique sounding movement, especially Afrobeats, that’s the future.
How do you think music can make people See Africa Differently?
Music can show displays of passion and creativity of African people. It shows that Africa isn’t reliant anymore, that people are pushing their own music, and that it is drive that makes people more rounded human beings.
The stereotype of Africa is not its reality. It’s a growing continent and I’ll be writing about the exciting changes that are happening everyday.
What do you think? Comment below.