The Powerful History, And Difference, Between Afrobeat and Afrobeats Music

afrobeats dancers
Adé Hennis
October 3, 2023

Afrobeat shouldn’t be confused with Afrobeats. Ghanaian DJ Abrantee is widely credited for popularizing the term ‘Afrobeats,’ in 2011, which draws from a mix of traditional African rhythms, dancehall, hip hop, funk, and pop.

Meanwhile, Afrobeat - no “s”-  was created by Nigerian activist Fela Kuti in the 1970s and the music has a history that goes far beyond entertainment. The two genres couldn’t be more different.

While Afrobeats is often tailored for radio play and dancing, Kuti created Afrobeat because he wanted to challenge colonialism in Africa while fusing the historical and spiritual concepts of traditional African music into the sound. His lyrics were often politically charged and socially conscious. However, not everyone was a fan of Kuti’s music.

In 1977, after Kuti criticized the Nigerian military government in his music,  approximately 1,000 soldiers raided Kuti’s home and harmed his mother. The tension between Kuti and the power structure went on for decades, but his legacy still lives on.

It’s important we recognize the cultural and historical significance of Afrobeat and Afrobeats music. While their sounds, origins and impact may be different, one thing remains true: our creativity is what fuels our liberation. What song inspires you to take action?