Long before the Davido’s, Wizkid’s and Burnaboy’s, there was a force which dominated the Nigerian and African music scene and later the global stage, there was no social media and technology at the time to propagate music as is done today, he was extremely popular on his own terms and organically too, his musical style was unique, his rhythm was different, his melody was unmatched, this he would go on to name ‘Afrobeats’, many decades later, it has become a global phenomenon and has projected Nigerian artistes to the fore, his name is Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti was a Nigerian musician, activist, and pioneer of the Afrobeat genre. Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria on October 15, 1938, he was the son of a Protestant minister and a mother who was a feminist and civil rights activist. Fela’s musical career spanned over three decades, during which he released numerous albums and gained a following in Nigeria and around the world. Beyond his music, Fela was a controversial figure who used his platform to speak out against corruption, oppression, and injustice in Nigeria and beyond.
Fela began his musical career in the 1960s, playing highlife music with his band, Koola Lobitos. This music was influenced by jazz and traditional African rhythms and was popular in Nigeria at the time. However, Fela soon began to experiment with new sounds and styles, drawing inspiration from funk, jazz, and African percussion. This experimentation led to the creation of Afrobeat, a genre that blended African rhythms and melodies with funk and jazz instrumentation.
Afrobeat was more than just a musical genre; it was a cultural movement that spoke to the experiences of African people around the world. Fela’s music was a reflection of the political and social struggles that many Africans faced, and he used his lyrics to express his views on these issues. He was critical of the Nigerian government, which he saw as corrupt and oppressive, and he spoke out against police brutality, censorship, and other forms of injustice.
Fela’s music was also deeply rooted in African spirituality and culture. He was a follower of the Yoruba religion, which he believed connected him to his ancestral heritage. Fela’s music often featured Yoruba chants and rhythms, and his lyrics explored themes of spirituality, mysticism, and African mythology. This fusion of African spirituality and music was a hallmark of Fela’s music and helped to establish Afrobeat as a distinct genre.
Fela’s music was not just popular in Nigeria; it gained a following around the world. In the 1970s, Fela toured extensively in Europe and North America, performing to sold-out crowds and gaining a reputation as a charismatic and dynamic performer. His music was embraced by people of all races and backgrounds, who saw Fela as a voice for the oppressed and marginalized.
However, Fela’s activism and outspokenness also made him a target of the Nigerian government. In 1977, the government launched a brutal attack on Fela’s compound, known as the Kalakuta, he was assaulted and whisked away by soldiers on the orders of the military Head-Of-State General Olusegun Obasanjo, his mother wasn’t left out as she was also physically hurt which subsequently left her with a lifetime injury leading to her death years later. This however was fuel to Fela who’d return from prison and continue to be be critical of the government even more, this made him a man of the people and a lot of Nigerians saw him as their mouthpiece because only a few people were courageous enough to speak ill of the government at the time.
Almost three decades after Fela’s departure, his sound is still as relevant as it was during his time, the younger generation have jumped on the genre making it a global phenomenon and his seen a meteoric rise in demand for Nigerian artistes on the global stage, earning them international record & distribution deals and touring the world performing their music, all thanks to the musical genius of it’s founder, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Fela may be dead, but his legacy lives on forever.
Street Dance-Steps Nigerians Will Never Forget So Soon
Nigerians adore dancing; it is ingrained in our genetic makeup. Many Nigerian musicians are aware of this, so they constantly write songs for the newest dances or, in the case of the more inventive ones, come up with brand-new dance moves that their fans can rock to and extend the life of their songs.
Numerous dance moves have been introduced by various artists over the years, but only a select few have become popular and rocked dance floors. Some of these dance moves were not created by Nigerian artists; however, as soon as they entered our airwaves, we adopted them as our own and made crazy jams out of them.
The Makossa Dance is a vibrant and sensual dance form that has become very popular in Nigeria despite its Cameroonian origins. It combines quick footwork, hip rotations, and waist movements. Makossa, which in the language of Douala, Cameroon, means “dance,” was probably the first dance craze of the new millennium. With it, musicians like Awilo Longomba and Koffi Olamide went on tours throughout Africa, and Makossa quickly caught on like wildfire and is still one of the most well-known Nigerian dances today. Numerous Nigerian music videos have included the Makossa Dance, showcasing the love of the country for this dance.
In 2011, this shook the dance floor. The Ghanaian dance quickly gained popularity throughout the entire world. Asamoah Gyan, a former striker for Ghana, helped make the dance even more well-known by making it his trademark whenever he scored, primarily during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
This dance move is related to Ajegunle, or “the ghetto,” in Lagos. It was inspired by the pseudo-reggae sound that artists like Ras Kimono, Blacky, Fada U Turn, etc. made popular. When Nigerian music legend Daddy Showkey was active, the Galala Dance was a popular dance form. This fast-paced dance incorporates arm movements, waist rotations, and quick footwork. The Galala Dance served as a metaphor for independent thought and street culture.
Iyanya, a Nigerian singer and Project Fame winner, released the song in 2012, along with a dance move, and it quickly became popular. It is firmly believed that it is a modification of the well-known traditional dance known as “Etighi.” To start the traditional shaking of the backside, the dancers lean forward while lifting each leg up and down. 2012 also saw the release of P-Square’s”Alingo,”though music fans widely criticized it for being too similar to “Azonto.”
After being released by Davido, this was the first song to rock the dance floor. The dance involves moving left, right, front, and back while holding the waist with one hand and the front with the other.
Nigerian artist Mc Galaxy made this dance movement popular, and it quickly went viral. Rhythmic body motions, such as twisting, swaying, and shaking, are used in the Sekem Dance. It is a popular choice for parties and celebrations due to its catchy music and simple instructions.
Following its release, it was widely embraced by Nigerian youth and became an instant hit on the streets. Shoki relies on your capacity for adaptability. Shoki entails twisting your shoulder while standing with one hand extended. You jump a little and cover one of your eyes with your hand as you twist.
Although there were disputes regarding who owned the dance’s original rights, this was generally accepted in 2015. Shakiti Bobo involves swinging your leg from side to side while raising your leg until your knee points forward.
Make sure both hands and your shoulders move up and down as you swing your leg front and back. Depending on how flexible you are, you can switch legs.
Late in 2017, this blew up the dance floor, and its popularity can be attributed to Mr. Real’s smash street anthem Legbegbe, which features Idowest, Obadice, and Kelvin Chucks. Additionally, songs released in 2017 included “Shepeteri,” “Oshozondi,” and “Shaku Shaku,” among others, continued the trend to further popularize the dance. A graceful half-gallop is started after crossing your arms in front of each other at the wrists and opening up your legs slightly.
Since dance steps are frequently adapted from popular moves or dances from the past, it can be challenging to determine their true origins. When your feet touch the ground while dancing in “Zanku,” the dance becomes more intense.
Dance Queen Kaffy, who called the song “immoral and disgusting” in an Instagram post, was the most vocal critic of the dance and the cause of much controversy.
Then he added another dance move called “Tesumole,” which received no criticism but was viewed as being much trickier to learn. Tesumole is a complex dance form that includes movements like closing both legs and turning right and left before opening the legs and jumping. The phrase can be rendered as “step on the devil.”
This was created by Street Pop Producer Ajinomoix Beat, who also created the popular instrumental beat “Focus.” Dancers made the dance popular, particularly on the social media site Instagram.
The song has been widely acclaimed, entered the top 100 trends on TikTok, and received support from celebrities including Michael Blackson, Davido, Pogba, Burna Boy, and many more. Over 500k people have viewed the song’s remix featuring Dice Ailes on YouTube. One of the most popular dance genres to emerge from Nigeria this year is still the focus dance.
In August 2021, Wizkid released the deluxe edition of his widely praised Made in Lagos album. The Afrobeats song and P-prime produced single “Anoti,” which also came with a new dance step, stands out from the deluxe album. Nearly two months before the deluxe release, Wizkid teased the dance step on his Instagram, and it quickly gained popularity after its release, inspiring anoti dance competitions on Instagram and TikTok.
AMAPIANO/ HAPPY FEET
A few dance styles gained popularity along with the South African music genre “Amapiano.” This year, the Happy Feet dance as well as other dance moves typically connected to the Amapiano style also enjoyed considerable popularity.
Burna Boy Breaks African Record on Spotify With The Release Of Single ‘Big 7’
Burna Boy debuted “Big 7” and the song’s music video on Friday. In the song, he praised the late American fashion designer Virgil Abloh and urged listeners to consider their legacy.
However, Chart Data announced on Sunday that the singer’s most recent song had broken the African artist’s Spotify opening day record.
Big 7 is the biggest solo streaming debut for an African artist in Spotify history, it was added.
According to the tweet, Burna Boy’s “Big 7” has Spotify’s largest-ever streaming debut for a solo song by an African artist.
The achievement comes after his most recent sold-out performance in a 41,000-seat stadium in the US.
Also recently announced was the fact that the musician was the first African artist to reach one billion Audiomack streams.
Burna Boy has solidified his position as one of the leading figures in the Nigerian music scene with a long list of honors and awards.
His fifth album, “Twice As Tall,” won the Grammy Award for “Best World Music Album” in 2021.
He most recently gave a performance at the 2023 UEFA Champions League (UCL) championship match.
Onyeka Onwenu: The Elegant Stallion
Many young people today may not really understand the influence that certain musicians commanded back in the day, some of them were literally worshipped as demi-gods, one of whom is the Nigerian singer and performer, Onyeka Onwenu who is alternatively referred to as ‘the elegant stallion’.
Onyeka Onwenu is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, actress, journalist, and politician who was born on May 17, 1952. She is often referred to as the “Elegant Stallion” because of her graceful and dignified presence on stage. Onwenu’s music is a blend of traditional African rhythms, pop, and soul, and her lyrics often explore themes of love, social justice, and political activism.
Onwenu began her musical career in the 1980s, when she released her debut album “For the Love of You”. The album was a commercial success and established Onwenu as a rising star in the Nigerian music scene. Over the next few decades, she continued to release hit albums, including “In the Morning Light”, “Golden Songs”, and “One Love”.
Onwenu’s music was not only popular in Nigeria but also across Africa and in the diaspora. She was known for her soulful vocals and her ability to infuse traditional African rhythms with contemporary Western sounds. Her music was a reflection of the changing times in Nigeria, as the country underwent rapid social and cultural changes in the post-colonial era.
In addition to her music, Onwenu was also a prominent journalist and advocate for women’s rights. She used her platform to speak out against gender-based violence and inequality, and she was a vocal supporter of the feminist movement in Nigeria. In the 1990s, she served as the chairperson of the Imo State Council for Arts and Culture and played a key role in promoting the arts in Nigeria.
Onwenu’s activism was not limited to Nigeria; she was also a vocal critic of apartheid in South Africa and spoke out against the racist policies of the apartheid regime. She was a supporter of the anti-apartheid movement and used her music to raise awareness about the plight of black South Africans.
Onwenu’s legacy extends beyond her music and activism. She is also a successful actress who has appeared in numerous Nigerian films and television shows. She has won several awards for her acting, including the Best Actress award at the African Movie Academy Awards.
In 2013, Onwenu was appointed as the Director-General of the National Centre for Women Development in Nigeria. In this role, she worked to promote gender equality and empower women in Nigeria. She has also been involved in politics and was a member of the National Democratic Coalition, a pro-democracy group that fought against military rule in Nigeria. Onyewu is considered a legend in the Nigerian and African Music scene and even though she’s far past her prime, her music will live forever.
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