OR!GINS: AFROBEAT

Updated: Jan 6



By Guest Writer: QADIM ABDUL MATIN


“Hey yeah!

Everybody run run run

Everybody scatter scatter

Some people lost some bread

Someone nearly die

Someone just die

Police dey come, army dey come

Confusion everywhere

Hey yeah!”

- Fela Kuti (Sorrow, Tears and Blood)


In a time of unrest. Uncertainty. There came a light of hope. A wave of strength in unity. The tongue of the oppressed magnified by a million. Imagine that sound. The chants. The cheers. The jeers. It’s so liberating!


It seems the 1960s were a time of “had it up to here” around the globe. Western Africa, in its post colonial disarray, wanted change. But even more so, security. Fela Kuti, pre-med student turned professional musician, became that security with his sounds and his actions.



Although Afrobeat began in Ghana in the 1920s. Fela popularized the sound across Africa. And the world over in the 1960s and 1970s.


“Seven minutes later

All don cool down, brother

Police don go away

Army don disappear

Them leave Sorrow, Tears, and Blood

Them regular trademark!”

- Fela Kuti (Sorrow, Tears and Blood)


Fela Kuti was inspired by the Black Panthers. His music is infused with socio-political critique and Yoruba proverbs. Experimenting with contemporary sounds. Nigerian harmonies and rhythms mixed with American jazz, soul, and funk. Afrobeat was revitalized.



That big band, high energy sound. The world music stage was introduced to the continental vibe. Influenced by the popular. Improvised by the paupers who would be kings. The expression is heartfelt. And their songs can be as long as 30-40 minutes.


Femi Kuti, Fela’s son, carries on the tradition with his own rendition. As well as artists Ayetoro, Antibalas, and Chicago Afrobeat Ensemble.



In similar fashion to Rap, Afrobeat has been super popularized. “Afrobeats” is the genre spawned from Afrobeat and is not to be confused. Like original Rap spawned the “Hip Hop” genre. “Afrobeats” content has been watered down for party and bull...ahem.


Afrobeat, the multi genre, Yoruba, politically fuelled, power packed music for the truly Hip (no “ster”).