Afrobeat OR Afrobeats: Is The ‘S’ Silent?

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Afrobeat or Afrobeats? S, just a letter, is responsible for causing an endless debate among the Afro-genre music historians and enthusiasts, and it seems to make a whole world of difference in the genre’s movement.

The million-dollar question is, ‘What is the difference between Afrobeat and Afrobeats?’ The seventh episode of Showmax’s Journey of the Beats sheds some light on this controversial but important piece of our music history.

For the older Nigerian music aficionados, it is Afrobeat, as they believe it ties to the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the father of the sound. For an expert like Tami Fiofori, there’s nothing like Afrobeats, and he wrote a piece to argue in this light.

The Middle and younger generation of music enthusiasts are more predisposed towards Afrobeats as they believe it covers all the aspects of the genre. To them, it’s an infusion of African rhythm, language, and culture blended in with influences from the Caribbean, dancehall and other genres of music. It also covers sub-genres such as Afro-pop, Afro-rap, Afro-dance, Afro-piano, and others.

They believe Afrobeat refers to the founder of the sound, music and, to an extent, lifestyle of the genre’s founder, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and his music. Some like ID Cabasa have reservations about referring to Afrobeats as a genre that covers every music from Africa.

Both sides of the argument agree that Afrobeat birthed and became a vehicle for Afrobeats to attract a great deal of interest and popularity.

The seventh episode also explores the power of dance in the Afrobeats movement. To experts, dance is the plate that serves the food of music, making the Afrobeats meal more palatable.

From the early days of Fela’s popular hands-up stance to Ayra Starr’s Bloody Samaritan dance, the activity that was once frowned upon has become an essential ingredient in serving Afrobeats meal, especially with the presence of social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Following dance is the African fashion that serves as the spoon—artists such as Angelique Kidjo, who wears the African fabric, Ankara, on global stages.

It’s irrefutable that African sound, dance, and fashion all made Afrobeats one of the biggest genres in the world.         

The Journey of The Beats explores many rich facets of the Afrobeats genre, and the story continues in the eighth episode of Journey of The Beats dropping on Thursday, 11 August 2022.

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