AfroBeat, features chants, call-and-response vocals, and complex, interacting rhythms, a combination of traditional Ghanaian and Nigerian music, Jazz, Highlife, Funk, and chanted vocals, fused with percussion and vocal styles, was popularized in Africa in the 1970s. AfroBeat is now one of the most recognizable music genres in the world and has influenced as many Western musicians as it has African ones with its exuberant style and polyrhythms.
Now that’s a party! Watch a powerful performance by Fela Kuti, his phenomenal band, and sexy dancers. Filmed by Ginger Baker of Cream in 1971…
If you don’t have Spotify listen to these superb songs here…
Amazing AfroBeat — Nigerian Music Gone Global
Nowadays, the sons of Fela Anikulapo Kuti — Femi Kuti & Seun Kuti — bring Nigerian music to world stages, and maintain the AfroBeat traditions.
Watch Seun Kuti sing his ode to black women everywhere on his single “Black Woman,” featuring the vocals of Nigerian singer Nneka.
AfroBeat is alive & kicking from Africa to Brazil, Brooklyn to London, and across the globe. These rhythms, AfroBeat’s high energy, and rebel spirit make it universally appealing.
This first Afrobeat Spotify playlist is bookended by two of the greats — Fela Kuti & Ebo Taylor. In between you’ll find plenty of AfroBeat tropical music grooves to keep you enthralled…
Listen to AfroBeat veterans, Tony Allen (one of the greatest drummers ever in any genre) & Dele Sosimi.
Check out a Brazilian band I can’t get enough of — Bixiga 70 (who made the best album of 2015). Also from Brazil is Iconili. Both bands use this Nigerian music sound as a foundation to work in Brazilian beats, Funk, Jazz & Rock — creating exciting, unique music.
The Western AfroBeat revival bands that have taken on Fela’s mantle & music, mixing it with their own cultural influences and creating powerful & distinctive music in their own right are here too — like, Hard Proof from Austin, Antibalas from New York, London Afrobeat Collective, Polyrhythmics & Jujuba from the Pacific Nortwest. Enjoy them all because, although they may never have the worldwide fame of Fela, they’re trying hard to keep his legacy alive and always play “Super Afro-Beat.”
If your chosen path leads to an Afro Beat Take Over,
then I know you’re gonna dig this…
None of the bands on this second Spotify playlist are from Nigeria. All these great musicians caught the AfroBeat bug long after Fela Kuti stopped touring. It just goes to show how strong & inspirational the AfroBeat rhythm can be. We’re all better off musically & culturally for its renaissance.
Lots of notable bands on this playlist are some of my favorite acts in any genre nowadays. Polyrhythmics, The Funk Ark, Ikebe Shakedown, Bixiga 70 all can masterfully meld African music, Latin music, Jazz & Funk into a whole new and original musical lexicon.
This playlist is the funkiest of the four, as the new-school AfroBeat bands so masterfully mix Afro Funk, AfroBeat, and more to create a distinctive modern vibe. Get into all the bands in this playlist. Buy their vinyl releases. Catch them in concert. These are the groups that are constantly on tour, working hard to bring the AfroBeat energy to people all over the world.
Bosq is one of my favorite producers right now because he is quite proficient at creating tight grooves in a variety of genres (and blending them). On “Take Over” (from his 2015 record Celestial Strut, one of the year’s best) he makes a terrific modern AfroBeat protest tune, with Nigerian singer, Kaleta.
Zongo Junction, from Brooklyn, is one of the AfroBeat Revival’s hottest bands. With a lively horn section, powerful percussion, funky guitarist, and awesome organ…these guys really know how to make a killer groove.
Watch Zongo Junction do their thing on an NYC rooftop…
Grab a 6 pack and prepare for an AfroBeat Down…
Let’s start it off with my favorite Fela Kuti song (it’s in the top 3-5 at least). Fela criticizes the “zombie”, mindless soldiers that just do whatever terrible things they are told to do.
They’d eventually come down on Fela’s property (The Kalakuta Republic), destroy it, kill his mom, and beat him almost to death.
Then, Orlando Julius & The Heliocentrics ask us to stand up & be counted. Keeping with Afro-Beat’s tradition of social justice, they praise the great leaders and encourage us to get up, get into it, and get involved.
The Sahara Allstars get into some real funky AfroBeat here. This AfroBaby compilation is worth checking out.
We now leave Africa for New York City…
The great Antibalas gets a little raunchy with their AfroBeat on this one. It’s a fun & refreshing variation from their protest tunes.
The Superpowers & Zongo Junction get down with some funky & psychedelic sounding AfroBeat on our third AfroBeat Spotify playlist.
Watch Orlando Julius & The Heliocentrics playing some funky Afrobeats,
doing “Aseni,” live in Brussels…
Get your Victory Headband on and get ready to rock the Afro Disco Beat…
Kicking it off with a long one by Tony Allen just hitting the perfect beat, interspersed with gorgeous horns that move this tune along in the grooviest way for 11+ minutes.
Dig some Brazilian AfroBeat flavor with Abayomy Afrobeat Orquestra from Rio de Janeiro.
Enjoy a sweet-sounding, far out one from The Funk Ark’s remarkable 2014 album, Man Is A Monster.
The Souljazz Orchestra & The Shaolin Afronauts explore the jazzy, funky side of instrumental AfroBeat.
Antibalas always stays true to AfroBeat’s protest music roots, like here with “Dirty Money.” While Afrolicious & its perpetual party groove puts the Disco in Afro Disco Beat.
Jaiyede Afro, the amazing 2014 album from Orlando Julius & Heliocentrics is packed with exceptional tracks. On “Buje Buje” they get a little far out, while keeping the AfroBeat deep.
Ebo Taylor from Ghana is one of AfroBeat’s originators and still keeps making marvelous music. This AfroBeat instrumental has some killer horns, and a deep groove.
The great Fela Kuti closes out our fourth and final AfroBeat Spotify playlist with an uncharacteristically mellow & romantic tune, “Lover.”
Watch this wonderful performance from Tony Allen and his band
playing a killer groove, “Asiko.”