Afrobeats: Artists and International Influence 

Afrobeats: Artists and International Influence 

Do you recognize the genre from Wizkid’s popular album Made in Lagos, Burna Boy’s Grammy Award Winning album African Giant or several other talented African performing artists? These popular beats are from a genre that you may or may have heard of – Afrobeats. But even though you know these songs playing on the radio, Afrobeats is so much more than its portrayal in pop culture, it’s a lifestyle. Afrobeats, the electric musical genre with roots in West Africa has swept over the entire world, uplifting moods, spreading happiness and energetic vibes to all who subscribe to it. The genre has a certain uniqueness and je ne sais quoi that is undeniable and eclectic too. With its recent rise in popularity, appraisal and accolades in the global music industry, Afrobeats has carved and solidified its place as a genre to be reckoned with in music. Coming from Nigeria and Ghana, this musical genre has gained global recognition from several African performing artists in the game and this is only the beginning.

Afrobeats, The Beginning

Before jumping into the current popularity of the genre, let’s see how Afrobeats became so popular. The musical genre first established its roots in West Africa with musical styles from fuji and highlife music. But that's not the only place you can find its influences. African American jazz can be found in the music too. After the music got popular in Ghana in the 1920s, rich Africans, influenced by their colonizers, took a liking to American jazz and began incorporating the jazzy sounds of Harlem and beyond. After years of African American and African music taking inspiration from each other, Afrobeats evolved into the extremely popular genre today. Now, musicians also incorporate Hip Hop, R&B, and even Pop music into the genre, creating music that’s enjoyed by everyone.

The Evolution of Afrobeats  

A large part of this genre was influenced by the musical legend himself, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, whose work continues to be sampled even after his demise.

Fela was a visionary, activist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, Pan-Africanist and most importantly, the pioneer of the African music genre, Afrobeats. He’s known for making the genre popular during the 60s and 70s. Fela was a heavily awarded and revered performer who was born in the town of Abeokuta, the capital city of Ogun, a state in western Nigeria. Nominated for 11 Tony Awards and although at the time it was called highlife, Fela was popular for his pulsating beats, rhythmic tunes, and the vibrant ecstasy of his performances. Though Afrobeats was born from Fela’s style of music, it has morphed into a world-dominating musical genre. 

Today’s Afrobeats has a more joyous and upbeat upturn. It’s also faced some criticism of people saying that the genre should be called ‘Afropop’ instead since it doesn’t show off Fela’s vision. Regardless of this, present-day Afrobeats has been sampled across the globe from Drake’s One Dance to Beyonce’s Black is King which included collaborations with several prominent African performing Afrobeats artists. It’s safe to say that the genre has dominated multiple charts across different countries from the US to the UK, Australia, and many others. For a sound that started so small with the public, the genre seems to bring everyone together, no matter where they’re from. With its alluring beats, heavy percussions, repetitive lyrics and electric tunes, it plunges its listeners into doing its simple bidding, dancing, which they can’t seem to resist.

Afrobeats Fela
Fela’s music wasn’t just for entertainment. He was mostly political and socially critical as he often described the failed governance of his homeland, Nigeria, in his songs.

Afrobeats and Fashion

Afrobeats Fashion Wizkid

You can find Afrobeats art everywhere. From the visually appealing art pieces used in its portrayal to the vibrant earthy colors, prints, fashion pieces, and hairstyles that fit its aesthetic, Afrobeats is art at its finest, and with its origination from the motherland, the style of music is so powerful that you can see its influence everywhere, one of which is, of course, fashion. 

We’re all aware of the explosion of the Dashiki trend, some few years back. The Dashiki is an African attire that was adorned by multiple African performing artists on and offstage and is now being normalized not only in the workplace but also in the fashion industry as several fashion brands and African designers are incorporating these bold and colorful patterns and prints into their fashion pieces. 

You can also see the genre’s influence in accessories from necklaces to rings, wristwatches to shoes, belts, and hats to name a few. 

Afrobeats Beyonce Dashiki African Print
 Beyonce wearing a 54 AFRICA Dashiki.

Afrobeats Artists and Collaborations

Today, you can find many international artists diving into the Afrobeats trend. Some of these artists are well accomplished while others are emerging. Listing all of them would be a herculean task, which is why it's easier to stick to highlighting a handful of the acclaimed Afrobeats performers, and of course their international collaborations. 


Afrobeats WizkidStarting with WizKid, Mr. StarBoy himself. The Essence (featuring Tems) singer has an arsenal of not just hits but both local and international awards. From Headies to BET, MTV to NAACP, Soul Train, Billboard Music Award, and so many others, Ayo Balogun AKA WizKid is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. The Afrobeats artist has worked with tons of popular artists and you may know him from the anthem Brown Skin Girl with Beyonce, or Come Closer featuring Drake, just to name a few. Headlining the “Afrofuturism” themed concert at the 2021 Afrochella concert, WizKid remains one of the biggest current Afrobeats artists to date.

Tiwa Savage

Afrobeats Tiwa Savage

Women have also made their mark in the Afrobeats genre. Tiwa Savage is one of those women with her airy voice and hypnotic dance beats. Starting off as a back-up singer for Beyonce and George Michael, Tiwa eventually paved her own road. Signed Sony Music Intl., Tiwa is a sensational artist with several hits in the bag. You may have heard her incredible duet with Mr. Eazi in Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift. She’s also an award-winning artist that has collaborated with the likes of Sam Smith, Davido, Wizkid, Sauti Sol, and many others. Even after being the first African female artist to sell out in London’s Indig02, Savage is still at the top of the game, receiving international fame and recognition.

Burna Boy

Afrobeats Burna Boy
Next on this list is Grammy Award Winner, Burna Boy. Burna Boy’s Grammy Winning album, African Giant was an intense depiction of what Afrobeats is. This artist’s work is heavily influenced by Fela Kuti and includes collaborations with many international musical artists from Diddy to Justin Bieber, Jorja Smith, Ed Sheeran, Lily Allen, and more. 

Yemi Alade

Afrobeats Yemi Alade

If you say Yemi Alade’s name in any Nigerian household, they will know who you’re talking about. This singer got her television start during university when she appeared on the talent show called Peak Talent. Yemi won it all and her career skyrocketed from there, following up with her first studio album, King and Queens. Her most popular track called Johnny pushes anyone to dance. Yemi even collaborated with Beyonce on The Lion King: The Gift. Since then, her music has charted in multiple countries, including America, Malaysia, and Germany. Yemi’s strong voice carries her pop and R&B sound through the ears of Afrobeat lovers everywhere.


Afrobeats Davido
Davido is another major team player on the Afrobeats team. The Fall singer has a plethora of both local and international awards under his belt and has worked with legends in the game from Mafikizolo to Rae Sremmurd, Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Lil Baby, Pop Smoke, NAS, etc. 


Simisola Ogunleye

Afrobeats Simisola Ogunleye

Born and raised in Nigeria, Simisola Ogunleye (also known as Simi, is an Afrobeat singer and actress who became popular after her debut studio album, Simisola. Simi is best known for her massive viral hit song, Ayo, where she shows off a feel-good sound and catchy chorus. Simi incorporates pop and uses her light vocals to take the music genre to enjoyable heights. Simisola is someone in the Afrobeat genre who’s contributed so much through her sound engineering and clever and relatable lyrics. Her easy-to-listen-to music is perfect for the casual Afrobeat listener that’s interested in slowly getting into the genre and doesn’t know where to start.


Afrobeats Efya
Efya, who goes by her stage name, Jane Awindor, is a Ghanian Afrobeat singer whose smooth and raspy voice brings something special to the sound. After coming out with a collaboration album with singer Irene, Efya dropped her debut mixtape in 2013 and caught the ears of many Afrobeat listeners. Just like many singers in the same genre, Efya brings an emotional flare to her songs and describes her Afro sound as soul and pop combined. With themes of love, hate, and pain, everyone can take something out of her lyrics. If you’re in the mood for some laid back soulful music that you can bounce your head to, then Efya’s music is the perfect fit for you.



Afrobeats MzVee

Vera Hamenoo-Kpeda, best known as MzVee uses pop, highlife, Dancehall, and R&B into her music and it’s one of the best recipes for this powerful vocal. Vera’s beautiful, incredible stage presence and talented voice opened opportunities to work with multiple award-winning producers such as Richie Mensah and Ayigbe Edem, to name a few. MzVee even collaborated with Yemi Alade in the song, Come and See My Moda, showing off a relatable theme that Ghanaians can relate to.

Vanessa Mdee 

Afrobeats Vanessa Mdee
Vanessa Mdee comes from Tanzania. Along with her busy life of being an activist and television personality, she still manages to drop hit after hit. After showing up on MTV VJ Search in 2007, the Afrobeat singer has interested viewers and listeners since. Vanessa’s uniquely clear voice makes her Afro dance and pop music addictive. 



Afrobeats Chidinma

 Chidinma’s infectious smile, beautiful visuals, and buttery smooth voice have helped her rise to Afrobeats stardom since 2010. You can hear her singing everything from catchy dance to emotional ballads. Through it all, Chidinma still keeps the same feeling in everything that she does, making her an Afrobeats essential for anyone getting into the genre. Today, Chidinma creates Gospel music showing how Afrobeats and Gospel can work together to make something special.


Afrobeats Tomilola

Thanks to these wonderful women in Afrobeat, new women artists are still emerging in the sounds of Afrobeat. Tomilola is an emerging artist you should definitely watch out for. You can find her voice simply described as honey by many. Although Tomilola has only released two singles since 2020, anyone can see the crazy potential that this young lady has in Afrobeat. She released her first single Let Go, showing off her voice with a hook of soul music weaved throughout the track.

Ayra Starr

Afrobeats Ayra Starr


Ayra Starr is another Afrobeat monster rookie. She dropped her debut album in early 2021 with Away being an instant popular single off the album. Ayra’s versatile vocals make her Afrobeat sound something different to the genre. Anyone listening to her music will immediately add her to their playlist for repeat listens. In other words, you’ll be hearing more about Ayra in the future.

This list wouldn’t be complete without Afrobeats artists like StonebwoyMr Eazi, TEMS, Tekno, Patoranking, D’Banj, Tuface, Jidenna, Kizz Daniel, Seyi Shay, Asa, and so many others.

Afrobeats is such an immersive musical genre and its beauty is felt once it’s played. This genre has taken up the entire international radio waves, influenced fashion, film, entertainment, and has inspired joy in the hearts of its listeners. It’s sounds and vibes are sensual, upbeat, joyous, heartfelt, and all-inclusive. What more can a music lover wish for? 

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