Afrobeat has been dominating African pop charts since its inception, spurred by Fela Kuti in the 1970’s. The Afrobeat genre originates in Highlife, a Ghanian musical style that adapted traditional musical elements for performance on foreign instruments, such as electric guitar.
Today, Afrobeats has taken the continent and the world by storm. Trying to define its impact on African culture on the continent and in the diaspora is like an attempt to define the importance of fufu (Akan dish) to the typical Ashanti man: impossible.
At the heels of Afrobeats’ success is now its kid brother, Afro EDM. Though largely unknown in the popular culture and music literature, Afro EDM is amassing a quick following. Packed with local sounds and odes to foreign influences from a plethora of genres, the mix resonates with a growing and diverse crowd.
What is Afro EDM?
Afro EDM has actually been around for decades, with young people in South Africa using kwaito to express their post-apartheid freedom. But it has taken access to the 21st Century’s technology to really get the African EDM to flourish.
EDM is percussive electronic music. EDM has early influences from many different genres: pop and rock, dub, house, trance, to dubstep and trap. Afro EDM is a mix of these different layers of sounds and textures and, now Afrobeats, over electronic percussion.
2018 Barcelona’s Sonar Festival placed the Afro-EDM genre center-stage for the European audience. The artists who joined the festival were DJ Black Coffee, Mr. Eazi, Kampire, KOKOKO!, and DISTRUCTION BOYZ.
These artists all span a wide variety of genres, with Mr. Eazi holding down the fort for more traditional Afrobeat, and KOKOKO! leading us down the rabbit hole with Afrobeat-infused trance.