What Afropop can Learn From Latino Music

July 12, 2019

If you’re a fan of Nigerian music, you must have caught the “Afrobeats To The World” bug. In the last four years, buoyed by a sprinkling of cosigns by foreign superstars, Nigerian music has earmarked the American market as its next frontier.

The energy is strong and we’ve recorded small wins. But success has come at a much more lethargic pace than was initially expected. DJ Cipha Sounds made angry Wizkid fans painfully aware of that on the episode of the R.O.A.D podcast below.

Where afrobeats is stuck at the door, Latino music has found its way in and started a party. One of the more significant conversations in world music has been how Latino music has become commercially successful in the US. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of hit songs on the much-vaunted Billboard Hot 100 jumped from a mere four to 19.

This year, the collaboration between Ozuna and Bad Bunny has been heralded as ‘a bid for world domination‘, and the numbers are there to show. They used to pander for collaborations, now Latino A&Rs are the darlings of pop stars looking for a streaming boost.

It’s safe to say Latino music is what Afrobeats wants to be like when it grows up; so what lessons can it learn in its own push to become a global force? We looked through the former’s rise and streamlined two decades worth of groundwork into three brief lessons:

  • To Believe In The Diaspora Or Nah?

The incursion of foreign sounds into the US market has always been buoyed by immigrants and their offspring. Jamaican communities, their influence in the hippie culture led to the rise of that country’s music and Bob Marley’s popularity in the 1970s.

Starting in the 1990s, the gradual assimilation of Latino culture and the gaiety of the music helped it break into the US. The trend has continued since then. Second generation Nigerians in the UK have already birthed new variations of Afropop while flying their flags proudly.

If Nigerian music doubles down on that, and every Bayo in Baltimore sets daily reminders to play Burna Boy’s newest song at high volumes in a residential area, things could happen.

  • On Adjusting To Fit The Popular Sound

If you’ve noticed how most Latino hits sound like the same thing nowadays, you’re not alone. Eduardo “Visitante” Martínez, a musician who has racked up numerous awards for his work in the group Calle 13 said recently,Latin music right now, all the sound is the same.” “It’s all the same harmony, the same arrangement, the same key,” Despite the vast variety of sounds from the Americas, most Latino hits nowadays are what radio DJs call ‘urban’.

Think of it as everything you’re likely to hear on Soundcity FM on a Friday night. It’s what Rihanna calls airport lounge music. Urban music refers to singles by hit performers; songs that have been genetically modified to sound good, like DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts”, Cardi B’s “I Like It” or a Wizkid single in Nigeria. The sad thing about that analogy is that Wizkid’s music is only just veering towards urban in the US Afropop in its most genuine forms is too foreign for the audience that artists want to convert. What they’ve learned over the past half-decade or so, is that they’re better off adapting than waiting for the people to get with their vibe.

Selling out always comes at its own considerable price. Retaining the diversity of Nigeria’s sounds will be far more important than anything, a reality Latino music is now coming to terms with. Many of its most popular playlists share about 50% of songs, much higher than the average at 4%. It’s largely because fans expect a certain type of song. It’s starting to happen in Afropop too. As other subcultures, like the alte scene and Agege’s street culture continue to stretch the range of Afrobeats, it’s important they’re allowed to flourish.

  • On Taking Your Time

The release of “Dutty Rock” and the worldwide hit “Get Busy” gave Sean Paul his breakout year. It’s taken 17 years for another genuine face of Latino music to emerge in the Atlanta-trap clone, Bad Bunny.

Sure, the sound has been gentrified. Justin Bieber and Major Lazer have met the needs of US audiences the most. But the length of the wait between those two eras shows just how slow the burn is when new sounds catch on.

It took 2 years for Davido’s Fall to reach charts in the US. If that’s any sign, it may mean you’ve already heard the song that will cement Afropop’s place as a global sound. What if it’s a Naira Marley song?

Segun Akande

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 30, 2019

2019 has been a memorable year for projects, thanks to strong efforts from Burna Boy, Lady Donli, Asa and more. Thankfully, it’s not over yet, as we are still expecting releases from some big-name stars. So, in anticipation, we decided to highlight nine impending projects we believe will help end the year on a high […]

November 20, 2019

TECNO’s Camon 12 Air is the rage right now and why won’t it be? TECNO definitely went all out on this installment of the Camon series to show users that they can use great innovation to make their lives better.  TECNO ensured that the Camon 12 Air came with 3GB RAM and 32 GB ROM […]

July 21, 2020

It’s two days in the BBNaija house and people are already noting which housemates to stan and which ones to vote out. Eat or be eaten, that’s the way things go on these streets. 1. Katrina As much as I am tempted to say Katrina is frying dodo, I will close my mouth and let […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

February 25, 2021

You have probably been looking for ways to understand online vendors and ways to maybe get them to respond on time. We got you. We know how it can feel to have your eye on an item only for the vendor to be playing tinko-tinko with your heart and emotions. I know I mentioned yesterday […]

February 25, 2021

Nollywood has a way of typecasting actors and locking them in certain boxes. While this has it’s issues, it also has its advantages and one of which is that we got to have a slew of Nollywood actors that were amazing at playing the villains and better yet, who were recognizable as villain-actors. Today, we […]

Recommended Quizzes

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

April 9, 2020

At some point in life, we all learnt that someone can be very intelligent and still lack common sense. That’s the difference between being book smart and being street smart. If you’re not sure where on the spectrum you fall, well, that’s what this quiz is here to tell you. Take it:

November 30, 2019

With No Nut November FINALLY coming to an end, we’ve decided to mark the torturous month with some more horny content. After quizzes that guessed how many people you’ve slept with, how good you are in bed and who you’ll sleep with next, this one will guess when next you’ll get lucky. Take it to […]

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

More from Pop

February 25, 2021

Nollywood has a way of typecasting actors and locking them in certain boxes. While this has it’s issues, it also has its advantages and one of which is that we got to have a slew of Nollywood actors that were amazing at playing the villains and better yet, who were recognizable as villain-actors. Today, we […]

February 22, 2021

I was going through pictures from the Headies yesterday when a wild thought came running through my mind. If Nigerian musicians had side hustles, what would they do? I couldn’t stop thinking, so I had to write something. It seems pretty accurate to me. What do you think? 1. Davido – Hypeman What else would […]

February 19, 2021

Old Nollywood definitely had its problems. Corny storylines, really bad CGI etc. But one thing they were consistent with is giving us iconic campus queens who were all running things. I love them so much I decided to make a guide on how to be an old Nollywood campus bad girl. Get Your Fashion Game […]

February 12, 2021

‘‘I want to focus on music right now,’’ Ayra tells me over Zoom. ‘‘I wish I could just make music for like a month or two weeks. That’s how excited I am by the reception my EP got.’’ When I meet Ayra Starr, she has a big smile on her face, a smile that remains […]

February 12, 2021

If you ask any ‘90s kid to describe a Disney princess, they’ll probably paint the picture of a soft-spoken, fragile and helpless woman who only sings, bakes, sighs and waits for Prince Charming to show up and save her. However, have you ever wondered what it might have been like if Disney princesses were average […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X