J Hus has been named the top Afrobeats artist in the UK over the past 12 months, as the genre finally gets its own chart. Based on streaming data and sales, he’s followed by Nigeria’s Burna Boy and Hackney collective NSG.
Afrobeats has quickly grown to dominate playlists and radio, with UK artists developing their own style and sound (Afroswing/Afro bashment) from its origins in west Africa. Young T & Bugsey’s Don’t Rush has been named the top Afrobeats track of the past year.
The ‘s’ in Afrobeats is crucial. Don’t confuse it with Afrobeat which was pioneered in the late 1960s by Nigerian artist and activist Fela Kuti. Fela and his drummer Tony Allen formed a movement when they fused funk and jazz with Ghanaian highlife, traditional Yoruba music and conscious lyrics.
The 2010s saw the rise of another musical movement out of Nigeria with a completely different sound, dubbed Afrobeats.
D’Banj’s 2012 hit Oliver Twist, which reached number nine in the UK charts, was probably the first time the sound really took hold in the UK.
Big tracks from Fuse ODG like Antenna and Azonto followed, but more recently in the UK, the lines have been blurred between sounds from the West Indies, London and West Africa.
Brixton rapper Sneakbo’s music hinted at the genesis to come at the start of the decade, and by the end of it artists like Yxng Bane and Not3s were at the forefront of what was being dubbed Afro bashment, or Afroswing.
Along with the likes of NSG, Juls, Naira Marley and Afro B, they’ve helped popularise the sound in the UK – while J Hus and his producer JAE5 have arguably had the most success combining dancehall with West African sonics and black British genres and flows.
Afrobeats reached new levels internationally when Drake featured Wizkid on 2016’s One Dance. It’s arguably not got too much of an Afrobeats sound borrowing more from dancehall and UK funky house – but it put a spotlight on Wizkid and the genre he flies the flag for.
Fuse ODG’s spoken of wanting to create a new image of Africa through Afrobeats music too.
His Tina movement – which stands for This Is New Africa – “urges Africans in the Motherland and the diaspora to use their skills to rebuild their community and show the world the more beautiful side of Africa”.