When Afrobeats is playing, and people ask what’s in our stew, these are ingredients and condiments.


An easy way to distinguish Afrobeats is through its heavy percussion, which consists of a drum set and all types of local drums. The top streamed Afrobeats songs of all time on Spotify, like Burna Boy’s On the Low and Arya Starr’s Rush, are fantastic examples.
There’s no definite time signature and speed for afrobeats. Although it usually applies a 3-2 or 2-3 rhythm known as clave or bpm of 80 to 100 — the tempo can get slower or faster, like Libianca’s People or Terry G’s Free Madness.


Afrobeats themes are about everyday experiences — celebratory music for joy, love, money, hustle and even grief.

On CKay’s Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah), which is now one of the most streamed Afrobeats songs of all time, the artist persuades a love interest to give her heart to him. Tiwa Savage hasn’t run out of enjoyment narratives and sex positivity while in the same breath reiterating she’s the number-one baddest babe in Africa. Burna Boy’s Last Last mourns the end of his relationship while craving booze and weed as an escape. An artist like Asake often celebrates escaping poverty and his newly-found wealth and success, while someone like Wizkid wants to live a stress-free life with gorgeous women around him. These Afrobeats artists  have vital storytelling skills that make the music unique.


From Lagos to Accra to London to New York or wherever afrobeats blasts out the speakers, the music blends local slang dialects with pidgin and accented English. This delivery is what listeners resonate with.


A now-prominent afrobeats element is sampling. Sampling is the reuse of a portion of a sound recording in another one. Like Rema sampled Jay-Z’s Dead Presidents on Alien in 2020 or Asake did Jason Heerah’s Mo Capitaine on Yoga. Even one of Spotify’s top exported Afrobeats songs, Last Last, by Burna Boy sampled Toni Braxton’s He Wasn’t Man Enough

A well-infused sample adds freshness and a bit of fun to the music.


Sampling shouldn’t be mistaken for genre fusion, another form that makes afrobeats unique. Afrobeats seamlessly infuses local sounds like juju, fuji, and apala and foreign genres like pop, hip-hop, highlife, RnB, reggae and dancehall. Though Burna may disagree, these elements form his self-created Afro-fusion genre.

You can come enjoy the best Afrobeats music with Spotify on 13 October 2023. Fave, Ruger and Bloody Civilian are some of the headliners. To win tickets, visit the Spotify Afrobeats website and learn some afrobeats trivia.


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