All through Afrobeats’ existence, Nigerian artists have robustly been influenced by foreign artists whose music has contributed to Nigerian mainstream music. These artists through the timelessness of their music, their global influence, and their collaborations with Nigerian artists have left an indelible mark on Afrobeats.
On this week’s Pulse Afrobeats Throwback, we will examine five foreign artists with palpable influence in Afrobeats.
When asked about their early musical influences, several Nigerian Pop artists often list the late legendary King of Pop Michael Jackson.
Although his peak preceded the inception of Afrobeats, Nigerian artists like many Nigerians who grew up in the 90s and even the early 2000s were brought up on Michael Jackson’s music, especially his globally famous album ‘Thriller’.
One notable figure through whose music Michael Jackson’s influence can be greatly felt in Afrobeats is the legendary duo P-Square whose music and famous dance move contributed to the early commercial peak of Nigerian Pop music.
Today, Michael Jackson’s influence continues to endure in Afrobeats as his melodic schemes and lyrics continue to be interpolated and his greatness continues to inspire the superstars driving Afrobeats.
Konto Music which is a hybrid of Dancehall and Afrobeats is a marker of Dancehall’s major influence on Nigerian Pop music.
This influence has continued to endure through the music of stars like Patoranking and Ruger and many other artists whose music is shaped by different variances of the Dancehall bounce.
One artist whose music did not only crossover but who has also robustly interacted with Afrobeats is the Jamaican superstar Sean Paul.
In her 2015 hit single ‘Baby Mama,’ Dancehall Queen Cynthia Morgan was at the peak of her powers, and in that record, she refixed Sean Paul’s famous line “The Gal dem Skilachy” from his 2005 global smash hit ‘Temperature’.
Although barely a teenager when Sean Paul made the smash hit, Cynthia Morgan would switch the “Gal” to “Boy” a decade later in a moment that captured Dancehall Music’s strong influence in the Nigerian soundscape.
Sean Paul collaborated with Timaya on his ‘Bum Bum’ remix and more recently with Davido on his ‘Unavailable’ remix
The Queen Mother of African Folk Music, the multi-talented, Grammy-winning Beninese musician Angelina Kidjo is one of the greatest entertainers to come out of Africa.
Her music has traveled all across the world notably to Nigeria where she shares cultural roots with the Yoruba people of the South West.
Her classic record ‘Wombo Lombo’ has been remade and repurposed countless times in Nigeria. Her enduring career has seen her collaborate with contemporary Afrobeats stars like Burna Boy, Yemi Alade, and Davido.
Chris Brown’s contributions to Afrobeats can’t be overstated. The American Popstar has not only collaborated with Nigerian artists but has also formed close ties with the industry such that he’s Afrobeats go-to artist internationally and not for once has he failed to turn up.
Since he collaborated with Wizkid on ‘African Bad Gyal’ in 2015, Chris Brown has gone on to collaborate with superstars including Davido with whom he has a close friendship, Rema, Fireboy, and Lojay.
These collaborations have contributed to the international success and exportation of Afrobeats.
The late Jamaican Reggae legend Bob Marley used his music to fight new colonialism and social injustice and his impact was felt far and wide beyond his home country.
In Nigeria, Bob Marley’s musical influence extends beyond the 80s and 90s. His name continues to be a recurring element in Afrobeats songs and his music continues to inspire the stars that drive Afrobeats.
Whether it be Wizkid’s hit song ‘Joy’ off a cover of Bob Marley’s classic record ‘No Woman, No Cry’ or the popularity of dreads in Nigerian music which can be traced to the influence of Reggae and Dancehall since the 90s.