After spending almost 12 hours of my life watching Netflix’s new documentary, Afrobeats: The Backstory, I feel like a walking history textbook and no one can tell me otherwise. Looking to share my wealth of knowledge, here’s some of the hot gist you should know about Afrobeats and the major players behind its success.
Boy bands are the foundation of Afrobeats
Three gbosa for Nigerian boy bands! A major takeaway from Afrobeats: The Backstory is how instrumental early boy bands were in creating the sound we know as Afrobeats today. Bands like The Remedies (Eedris Abdulkareem, Eddy Remedy and Tony Tetuila), Plantashun Boiz (Tuface, Blackface and Faze) and The Trybesmen (Eldee, Kaboom and Freestyle).
Banky W’s Ebute Metta was inspired by 50 Cent, not Rihanna
Even though Banky’s Ebute Metta was sung over the beat of Rihanna’s 2007 song, Umbrella, Mr Etomi revealed it was 50 Cent who actually inspired the song. Taking a page from the American rapper known for using popular beats to hype his upcoming projects, Banky made a lot of songs that way to hype his Mr. Capable album. But Ebute Metta blew up so much, he shelved the rest.
Da Trybe’s Oya was the first Nigerian music video to be banned… here’s why
In 2001, ten rappers decided to hop on a track, spitting bars for 30 seconds each. This track ended up being Da Trybe’s hit song, Oya, with verses from Eldee, Sasha, Kaboom, Freestyle, Dr Sid etc. Even though the music video was a game-changer (the first to be shot with a crane), it was banned because the backup dancers were twerking.
The people who banned it would probably have a heart attack watching music videos today.
KC’s Limpopo was initially supposed to feature these American artistes
2012 was the year we couldn’t escape Limpopo no matter how much we tried. Although the song marked a significant turning point in KC’s career, he explained in the documentary that he originally created it with a Chris Brown or Trey Songz feature in mind. I’m so glad that didn’t happen.
What do Dr Sid and Kaffy have in common?
Before giving us Over the Moon, Pop Champagne and Surulere, Dr Sid was a part of Da Trybe (an upgraded version of The Trybesmen). And before that, he was Da Trybe’s official choreographer and backup dancer.
He’s not the only one who switched, though. Dj Jimmy Jatt was originally a rapper, and Daddy Showkey used to be a, wait for it, military officer.
Banky helped Wizkid blow, but he didn’t discover him
There’s no denying Banky W’s role in creating the star we’ve come to know as Wizkid, or Big Wiz, if you’re nasty. But the late OJB Jezreel was the one Wizkid’s mum handed the young singer to for mentorship. Check out this hilarious story of Wizkid being a good boy, as told by OJB’s wife.
D1 and Keke Ogungbe were influencers before your IG faves
Before your favourite Instagram influencers started influencing fashion, Dayo “D1” Adeneye and Kenny “Keke” Ogungbe were helping brands like Phat Farm and FUBU sell out their baggy clothes just by wearing them on their show, AIT Jamz. All of this was before they even set up Kennis Music which kicked off the careers of Tony Tetuila, 2face and Eedris Abdulkareem. That’s some boss shit right there.
Fela himself cleared Weird MC’s Allen Avenue
While most people today know Weird MC for 2006’s Ijoya, her first album, Simply Weird, came out in 1997. The album’s lead single, Allen Avenue, was inspired by Fela Kuti, whose song, Look and Laugh is sampled on the rap track. The song was ahead of its time, but Fela saw the vision when he cleared her to use his song. How many people can say Fela approved of their music?
The real OGs of Yoruba and Igbo rap are not who you think they are
For the longest time, Dagrin has been credited as the first Yoruba rap artist who passed on the baton to Olamide. The same thing can be said of Big Lo handing over to Ill Bliss and Phyno. But the documentary shows that before Dagrin, there was Lord of Ajasa, and before Big Lo, Nigga Raw was killing things with Obodo. This is what we should be learning in History class.
The UK scene greatly influenced today’s Afrobeats
If there’s one thing Afrobeats: The Backstory showed us, it’s the influence of IJGBs on music culture in Nigeria. While Nigeria-based artists created the sounds, Nigerians returning from the diaspora helped organise and package it. Some of these Nigerians include Obi Asika of Storm Records, Keke and D1 of Kennis Music and even the documentary’s creator/director, Ayo Shonaiya, who managed artists like The Trybesmen and Kwam1.
Burna Boy rarely refers to his music as “Afrobeats”
Burna Boy’s Ye opened new doors for Afrobeats — all facts, no cap. However, it’s interesting to know that Odogwu calls his music Afro-Fusion, not Afrobeats. Why? According to A&R legend Bizzle Osikoya, Burna Boy believes anything Afrobeat (with or without the “s”) is for the Kuti family. While Fela Kuti is considered the grandfather of Afrobeats, Burna wants to start a legacy of his own with Afro-Fusion.
Shizzi was Wizkid’s producer before he created magic with Davido
We were introduced to Shizzi when Davido shouted his name on Dami Duro. While they both went on to create an iconic producer-artist relationship with songs like Ekuro, Overseas, Gobe and Skelewu, Davido met Shizzi when he was working on Wizkid’s debut album, Superstar. If you didn’t know, Shizzi is also the brilliant mind behind Wizkid’s show-stopping, Love My Baby.