Well, first of all I must start this article by making it known that the most patronised and most sought after Artists in Africa today, are African Artists while, that is a great step. The movement shouldn’t just end in Africa.
African music is already big among Black Brits, Carribeans and Africans living abroad outside of Africa in general, but is that really enough? No, it isn’t. African music genres; Afrobeat, Afropop, Afro-Hip-Hop, Highlife, Hiplife, Soukous etc. are top quality enough to get worldwide attention.
Now, when I say worldwide attention, I don’t mean African Artists having to rely on their former homebased audience who moved abroad, and their friends and family or other fellow citizens of theirs abroad to sell out shows outside of the continent.
Prominent African Artists are subjected to disrespect by the Western media because they feel they are not world-renowned enough to be treated as good as notable Western musicians. I mean BET gives the winners of its annual BET Award for Best African Act backstage, E! News Specials for African Artists are just 15 minutes long (neither of them is aired outside of Africa) and The Grammys terms all African music genres, World Music.
The popularisation of African music to the world started with Grammy award-winning South African Artist, Miriam Makeba in the 60s, then Grammy-nominated Hugh Masekela in the late 60s, Fela Kuti in the 1970s King Sunny Ade in the 80s with a Grammy nomination and his songs being used as Hollywood soundtracks and the Nigerian Reggae Artist, Majek Fashek who resembles Bob Marley vocally and signed a deal with Interscope Records and was on the Late Nite With David Letterman and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in the 90s…
In France, Artists like Koffi Olumide and Awilo Longomba also popularised African songs, 1er Gaou by Magic System was a hit in France and Switzerland to name a few. In the 21st Century, Artists like 2face releasing smash hits like “African Queen(2004)” being used as a soundtrack to the 2006 Hollywood movie, Phat Girlz, P-Square, 2face and Akon being signed to Konvict Muzik and P-Square featuring Akon, Rick Ross, Matt Houston (who they released a summer hit, Positif in France in 2012 with), Dave Scott, Jermaine Jackson and T. I. D’banj’s Oliver Twist (2011) which was played on EastEnders and was sung by Real Madrid players in 2014 being #9 on the UK Singles Chart, #1 in Romania etc.
And now, Wizkid co-writing, co-producing and featuring on a #1 UK Singles Chart and #1 US Billboard Hot 100 hit, One Dance by Drake ft. Kyla & Wizkid and these Nigerian Artists did all these with their country having no proper music structure.
Die Antwoord of South Africa are the most widely popular African Artists in Asia and Australia. African Artists have shown are hardworking and resilient they are, but the question is can the African music scene dominate globally like Artists from the USA, the UK and Canada have done over the years and even do more than what Jamaican Artists once did? Well, that’s the answer we await.
– Isima Odeh.
The Writer of this article, Isima Odeh can be reached and followed on Twitter @IsimaOdeh