Here’s Why Nigerian Artists Want To Dump Afrobeats

One powerful motive is the desire for advancement.

Here's Why Nigerian Artists Wants To Dump Afrobeats
Here's Why Nigerian Artists Wants To Dump Afrobeats [A collage image of Wizkid, Burna Boy and Fireboy DML]

Nigerian artists have invented a distinct trend: a shift away from the once-dominant Afrobeat genre. Despite their global success and accolades, Nigerian musicians are gradually shifting away from their defining sound, wanting to explore new sonic territories and challenge the status quo.

West African music has roots in numerous genres, such as jazz, highlife, jùjú, and reggae. Afrobeats, with its pulsating rhythms and captivating enthusiasm, catapulted Nigeria into the worldwide spotlight, earning accolades at renowned events such as the 2024 Grammy Awards.

Despite its success, flaws began to develop in the Afrobeats facade. Three notable Nigerian artists—Wizkid, Fireboy DML, and Burna Boy—have openly denounced the genre, citing a variety of reasons for their opposition.

Wizkid, regarded as one of Nigeria’s most successful exports, turned to Instagram to vent his dissatisfaction, claiming that Afrobeats was simply a label imposed on artists that limited their creative freedom. He advocated for a combination of sounds and rejected being limited to a single genre.

Fireboy DML echoed Wizkid’s remarks, emphasising his preference for sonic experimentation while rejecting to be labelled as an Afrobeats musician. He, too, wanted freedom from genre boundaries in order to achieve musical authenticity.

Burna Boy, who never shies away from controversy, chastised Afrobeats for its lack of substance, criticising its superficiality and separation from real-world experiences. Despite the outcry, Burna Boy maintained his stance, defining himself as an afro-fusion artist.

So, why are Nigerian artists abandoning Afrobeats?

One powerful motive is the desire for advancement. These artists, who are concerned about being limited to a single label, believe that adopting a variety of musical styles will broaden their worldwide reach and create greater artistic freedom.

Furthermore, there is a strong desire among Nigerian musicians to establish their musical legacies. This drive has resulted in the birth of new genres such as Rema’s Afro-Rave and the enigmatic Afro-fusion, indicating a break from the homogeneity of Afrobeats.

Critics compare the loss of dancehall to a lack of growth and depth in lyrical substance. Similarly, artists such as Burna Boy criticise Afrobeats’ superficiality, anticipating a similar fate for the genre.

In essence, Nigerian artists’ criticism of Afrobeats reflects a desire for artistic freedom and a rejection of genre limitations. These musicians exemplify the spirit of innovation and creative inquiry as they explore new musical territory.

Change is unavoidable in the ever-shifting environment of Nigerian music. Only time will tell whether this divergence from Afrobeats ushers in a new era of musical invention or marks the end of the genre. But one thing is certain: Nigerian artists are at the forefront of a musical revolution, daring to defy tradition and reinvent the very core of their trade.

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