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7 Oct 2017

AFROBEAT is a "Movement" not just music...Before any Artist/Musician can be referred to as a Legend

By: Mike Fash

Before anything, I admit that I'm not an authority or established critic, but speaking from my experience in the music and entertainment industry. Im also open to correction and discussion from others with different or opposing views. I first commend and respect the impact and contribution of African Artists as a whole in the entertainment industry, especially the younger generation; But some clarifications need to be made quickly, before things get out of hand.

#1: AFROBEAT is a "Movement" not just music, that was created by and accredited to FELA ANIKULAPO-KUTI (Period, No one else). He single handedly Founded, Established and Began it; FELA solely took the genre from his shrine in Lagos to International recognition. Ever before Social Media, Internet or even Cable TV/Satellite was invented, Fela Kuti was already performing AFROBEAT to sold-out European and American Audiences GLOBALLY. His core market was GLOBAL, where he collaborated with several western headlining acts. His music was acknowledged and recognized by James Brown (God-Father of soul) and Paul McCartney (Beatles). FELA Kuti's first trip to USA with his full band was in 1969, a time when migration of Nigerians to USA was still fairly new! Fela Kuti sits on a throne in his kingdom all by himself!

#2: AFROBEAT(S) in comparison to AFROBEAT is neither a solid music genre nor movement that has any traceable or credible genesis nor foundation to a single source. The word "Afrobeats" itself was first used in 2012 when DBanj (the biggest, most celebrated and recognized younger artist then, right after Tuface Idibia) came to NYC to perform for a live-nation concert at Irving Plaza. A female daily times reporter interviewed Dbanj at the show and asked who his role model was, Dbanj mentioned FELA KUTI. (Dbanj himself did NOT have a name at the time for the genre he was performing), the reporter concluded: AFROBEAT and an S was added to it as a typo.

To avoid confusion or misunderstanding, A better term for this new trend of music creating major waves now is African Pop, meaning African Popular music; because there are too many different styles and unique patterns of Artists trending now to just group ALL under Afrobeats, especially since the word is so loosely thrown around nowadays. There's a HUGE difference in what FELA's music and live performance was about, and what current younger artists are doing now!! Some of the younger artists now SING (Tuface, Simisola, Wizkid); some RAP Olamide, PHYNO, Falz); some DANCE and SING (PSquare, Tiwa Savage); some play instruments (Bez, Cobhams, Aramide); some are phenomenal CONCERT ACTS: (Tuface, D'banj, Flavour Na'bania, Jidenna) and most just "try" to ENTERTAIN, By lip syncing with a DJ or tracks..😔.

#3. Before any Artist/Musician can be referred to as a Legend, they had to either create something new that has never been, or at least implement a complete transition from old to new and still REMAIN relevant for at least 15 years CONSISTENTLY within that transition and after.
PLEASE AND PLEASE, do NOT compare any of the new generation younger acts to the older ones.
There's a reason why the like's of King Sunny Ade, Alpha Blondy, Femi Anikulapo-kuti, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal (K1 De Ultimate), Salif Keita, Youssou Ndour, Oumou Sangare, Angélique Kidjo, Baba Maal are still relevant after 40 years of consistently churning out Hit songs, being nominated for Grammy's and selling out shows worldwide.

Again, I commend the contribution and impact of the younger generation to AFRICAN music in the diaspora, but before we start using the word "Legend", we need to be patient and see where the African Pop genre is heading FIRST, and whether it will stand the test of time of staying in its original form without being Hi-jacked..

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