I am a diehard lover of African music and the trending genre in African music right now is Afrobeat. Studying the recent development in the music industry as from 2012, I have decided to do a critical analysis of the top 5 leading countries in Afrobeats.

Since Afrobeat is a fusion of traditional African rhythms with American pop, jazz, and soul, determining the top 5 countries in Afrobeats will entail doing a survey of the various traditional music of some main Afrobeat producers and classifying them accordingly based on how their traditional music can best favor the growth of Afrobeats and subsequent take over. Let’s go!

  1. Nigeria

Nigeria is the mother of Afrobeat. As Africa’s most populous nation, it has three main ethnic groups: the Igbo, Yuroba, and Hausa. Nigeria has much traditional music such as Palm wine or Juju, Apala, Fuji, Yo-pop, Gospel, Reggae, Highlife and Afrobeat of late Fela Kuti. Highlife got influence among the Igbos when Ghanaian highlife became popular in the 1950s as well as makossa and rock-rumba from neighboring Cameroon and Zaire.

In 1970s Prince Nico Mbarga took Africa by storm with the best-selling hit of all time (13 million copies) “sweet mother”. However, as music evolved in the local industry with massive enculturation from the USA, the father of Afrobeat Kuti got favored as young talents: Puff Daddy,  Plantashun Boiz, Don Jazzy, D’banj, Timaya emerged  Slicking Afrobeats with Auto-Tuned vocals, big-budget videos, and bling lifestyles, far from Fela’s era of political confrontation.

Now from P Square, Wizkid, Davido, Techno, Patoranking to kiss Daniel, it is unarguable that Nigeria still leads the Afrobeats trend in Africa

  1. Cameroon

The best-known music in Cameroon is Makossa from Douala the biggest city in the country. As Africa in miniature, her culture is so diverse comprising rich and fine rhythms from different ethnic geographical groupings.

Other local rhythms include assiko, zanza, balafon, ambasbey ( in the coastal areas), the Betis have the Bikutsi which has got more international airplay through Lady Ponce, Mani Bela, and Coco Achante. The grass field which makes up the largest percentage (38%) of the population has the Benskin and Njang and bottle dance popular from which came Afo Akom, Francis Bassor and late John Minang.

Makossa had been taken worldwide by legendary Manu Dibango in 1972 with his hit song “soul makossa”. In the 80s  makossa moved to Paris and a new Pop-makossa fused elements of Antillem Zouk producing African superstars like Moni Bilé, Bébé Manga, Bend Decca, Petit Pays. Pop-makossa and makossa soukous was the norm in the 90s until Coupe decaler and now Afrobeats has slowly silent it.

In fact, many music pundits in Cameroon hold that Afrobeat is simply a fusion of pop-makossa and Nigerian highlife. With present trends especially from the English part of Cameroon Afrobeat has completely taken over makossa as young talents from Mr. Leo, Magasco, Locko, Pit Baccardi, Jovi, Stanley Enow, Franko, to Charlotte Dipanda, Daphne and Reniss are imposing what is commonly called “Camer237 music” in the international arena.

  1. Ghana

Ghanaian music often reflects a Caribbean influence but still maintains a flavor of its own. Ghanaian musicians found success in the US and UK with the surprise success of Osibisa’s Afro-rock in the 1970s. The main music in Ghana is highlife, hip-life of Reggie-Rockstone and recently Azonto of Fuse Odg.

Hip-life has since spawned stars like Sherifa Gunu, Ayigbe Eden, Samini, and Sarkodie. The encultured music background of Ghana earns it the third position as top Afrobeat leading country though most of the lead stars like Sarkodie, Efyah, Guru, Paedae are pro hiphop than Afrobeat (Fuse Odg, Mr Eazy, R2bees).

  1. Ivory Coast

Popular music in Ivory Coast is imported reggae of Alpha Blondi, hip-hop, Zouglou famous with  Magic System and most acclaimed coupe decaler of Stephane Doukoure aka Douk-Saga. From 2000s coupe decaler had gained enough popularity locally and gone international thanks to superstars like Dj Arafat, Kedjevara, Debordeau, Bebi Phi lip and Serge Beynaud.

However, the influence of Afrobeat caught young acts like Shado Chris, force one, Kiff No Beats, Zeynab, Tour De Guard and Teeyah who are now gradually transforming fast electronic metallic into soft auto tunes and vocals.

  1. Kenya

Kenya is no doubt the entertainment hub of East Africa. Music genres in Kenya include hip-hop, reggae, soul, soukous, zouk, rock and roll, funk and Europop. Additionally, there is a growing western classical music scene and Kenya is home to a number of music colleges and schools.

New generations of artists like Sauti Sol, C4 Pedro have put Kenyan popular music on the global map. The Sauti Sol, Afro-pop band made their debut on Kenyan musical scene in 2008 and has been on the rise since then.

South Africa

South Africa is undoubtedly the most advanced country in Africa, entertainment inclusive; they own and control the media though Nigeria owns the market. She has the most organized entertainment industry and practically produces Tens of music superstars every year.

This entertainment giant could not make our top 5 when it comes to real Afrobeats because its traditional music background/genres ranging from Afrikaans, bubblegum, reggae, gospel, gothic rock, kwaito (South African hip-hop) do not quite favor the trending Afrobeat content.

Kwaito, for example, is South Africa’s most popular style and it’s basically house music beats. Nonetheless, Kwaito continental dopest, Mafikizolo has made many to rethink about South African hip-hop. Though the music in the country is considered more regional than continental, South Africa can boast of Africa’s most successful artist such as Kiernan Forbes (A.K.A), Cassper Nyovest, Reason and many others.

Other potential Afrobeats producers in Africa include

  • Senegal
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Gabon
  • Tanzania

These countries have the potential to subsequently make good Afrobeat supper stars. Like the top five.

Hope you enjoyed our in-depth classification, please we will like to know your view below concerning Afrobeat/Afropop in your country, maybe we left it out.

Read also: modern African music:  Nigeria sees Cameroon as a threat