Less than a decade ago, writer Dan Hancox of the Guardian interviewed Ghanaian DJ, Abrantee, on the rise of Afrobeats. Abrantee jovially defined the term he cleverly coined Afrobeats as music that makes the “heart beat”. Afrobeats was his umbrella term for the sound of local African pop music, mixed with hip-hop and funky house, that was coming out of London, Ghana, and Nigeria at the time. Abrantee said the genre was especially popular with the youth, and that this bode well.
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.
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It is primed to experience a similar, if not faster rise to prominence, as technology and social media aids in its travel.
What Is Afro EDM?
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.
In Africa, the Ghanaian artists leading and creating in this space are as diverse in look as they are in sound. They are beginning to collectivize under groups such as Excuse Our Music, with producers such as Drvmroll, ProdbyYngFly, LXXVIImusic, and are using technology to fully disperse their music and connect with thousands of young followers.
The Artists of Afro EDM
A few of the pioneers in the Afro EDM space are also especially vocal about its impact.
Artist Kayso believes that “Afro EDM is the way forward”. He considers himself a part of the genre that will “break through big time in the world music scene real soon”.
Fokn Bois, the duo M3nsa and Wanlov the Kubolor, dubbed early pioneers of Afro EDM, are especially critical, explaining that, “EDM is another ironic/tautological label we face as Africans in a world where the West has become our commercial reference point for Electronic Music. Africans taught/teach the world how to dance and we don’t even call our music Dance Music. When we made “FOKN Dunaquest In Budapest” we just listed it as dance music.”
Perhaps this is the classic way that artists and creatives renounce and embrace categorization.
The Future of African Music?
In 2012, DJ Abrantee spoke about the rise of Afro EDM. I am no DJ Abrantee but something otherworldly is brewing in the underskirts of the Ghanaian music scene. Armed with technology, a global appetite set ablaze by its older brother – Afrobeats, and a Diaspora desperate to connect with the continent, the heyday of Afro EDM is just a few years away.
Check out Keyzuz, Kayso, and Fokn Bois below.
Kayso – Your Type No Dey From Lagos
Red Red (i.e Fokn Bois) ft Sarkodie – Ghetto
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