From Kwam1 to Burna Boy, Olamide: The Evolution and Influence of Fuji on Contemporary Afrobeats Sounds

From Kwam1 to Burna Boy, Olamide: The Evolution and Influence of Fuji on Contemporary Afrobeats Sounds

  • Juju, Waka, Fuji, Highlife, Apala and Afrobeat are some of the indigenous musical forms and genres that have their origins in Nigeria, especially the southwestern part of the country
  • The organised Nigerian music industry is probably one of the oldest in Africa and, by extension, in the world, and its evolution is illuminating
  • The global recognition and dominance that Nigerian music is witnessing in the third decade of the 2000s has been a generational contribution of musical geniuses of nearly a century
  • In this article, we will take a critical look at how indigenous Nigerian sounds have evolved and their influences on modern sounds, Fuji to Afrofusion, Juju to Afrohighlife and more

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Music is life; its essence and cultural impact on history are undeniable. The growth of the Nigerian music industry over the last three decades has been a phenomenon and a thing of tremendous pride.

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Over the last century that the organised Nigerian music industry came into existence, its indigenous sounds and tunes have always been appealing to the international markets and beyond.

Photos of Kwam 1, Olamide, Burna Boy and Asake
Understanding the evolution of contemporary Fuji and its twin Afrobeat. Photo credit: @olamide/@asakemusic/@burnaboygram/@kwam1_official
Source: Instagram

The current global acclaim that the famous Nigerian sound, Afrobeat, is currently witnessing didn't start with Wizkid, Burna Boy and Davido. Rather, it's been a work in the pipes for years that finally got its notable international big break.

Nigerian musical legends like Haruna Ishola, Yusuf Olatunji, I.K Dairo, Ayinla Omowura, Osita Osadebe, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Oliver De Coque, Ayinla Kollington, Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade and finally Fela Anikulapo Kuti all paid their dues.

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They passed on their works, helping to carve a place for future generations on the global stage.

Growth of Fuji on Afrobeat

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Fuji is probably the only loud indigenous music genre that is completely Nigerian at the moment that has ever had a run on the international stage with stars like Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, K1 de Ultimate, and Alabi Pasuma all going for European tours.

Afrobeats at the moment is the face of Nigeria's music industry, but many would argue that the current Naija sounds are most influenced by Fuji.

You don't agree? Well, keep reading as we try to convince you. Over the last decade, we've all come to accept that Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy are the face of contemporary Afrobeat music.

Well, all three of these guys, have at some point in their careers sampled fuji sounds or rather even featured a patron of Fuji music on one of their hit tracks, this is a fact that can't be contested.

Nigerian music's global recognition didn't start with Afrobeat

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Many of the younger generations, or should I say, Gen Z, might not know that Davido, Burna Boy and Wizkid are not the first Nigerian musicians to sign on to International record labels.

King Sunny Ade and Grand Commander Ebenezer Obey were both signed to international labels at their peaks. KSA was signed to Island Records when he shared the same label with Micheal Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

Afrobeats' international breakthrough steals the shine off Fuji

Good music they say triumphs beyond language and cultural barriers. Afrobeats in recent times have proven this to be more true than ever.

Over the last two to three years, we have consistently seen people that don't speak English nor even understand the Nigerian language fill stadiums just to watch Afrobeats stars perform. And sing to them mostly in languages different from their native tongues.

This didn't start with Afrobeat, as far back as the 1980s, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister was already going on European tours. While it should also be noted that no Nigerian artist has gone on more European tours than Wasiu Ayinde Barrister Kwam 1.

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Afrobeats becoming global has stolen the shine of Fuji, one of Nigeria's purest musical forms. However, that isn't the end for this outrageously versatile sound, rather it has taken a new dimension.

New artists like Asake, Seyi Vibez, Portable, Bella Shmurda, Zinoleesky and Barry Jhay now infuse Fuji into Afrobeat which is now called Afro-fuji/Neo-Fuji.

Contemporary influences of Fuji in Afrobeat

Wizkid sampled Fuji sounds on his hit track Pakurumo. Burna Boy has been heard several times using 'Asalamu Aleikun' with a Fuji vibe in one of his songs.

While ace rapper Olamide completely went all out to do a remix of Kwam1's song Omo Anifowoshe, Naira Marley with Pxta and Opotoyi, Teni with Askamaya, Zlatan Ibile with 'Egungun Be careful' featuring veteran Fuji musician Abass Obesere.

However, Afrobeat artists didn't just start sampling Fuji sounds. In 2004, there was Kabakaba by Konga featuring Remi Aluko and Dagrin.

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The fusion of both sounds and the cross-pollination started as far back as then. But it recently became a fully-fledged style of what it is now referred to as 'Afro-Fuji'.

A new age of Afro-Fuji/ Neo-Fuji, led by Asake

The is a new wave of musical forms in the air, from Afro-Highlife to Highlife-pop and to Afro-Fuji/Neo-Fuji.

Afro-Fuji at the moment is the new form on the rise, with singers like Naira Marley, Mohbad, Zinoleesky, Zlatan and Bella Shmurda all toying and tinkering with the sounds, until Asake came through and blew it all up in our faces.

Asake and Seyi Vibez have consciously taken Afro-Fuji to a new height, taking the sounds into mainstream music.

When you listen closely to Asake's PBUY, only then would you realise that it is a proper street-hop Lamba sound with an influx of Amapiano beat.

'Organise' is like merging elements of Fela Kuti's Afrobeat with the chant and response, riveting political commentary of stage Fuji.

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While Seyi Vibez toyed with the crowd and response on the track 'Chance', 'Saro' and 'Bullion Van Baby'. Most songs on Seyi Vibez's album all had supreme influences from Fuji and this is why they are all quite street popular.

Same for Portable too on his latest album Ika of Africa. He relied more on the stage story-telling style of Fuji on his tracks like 'Apostle must hear this' 'Plan B' and Azaman.

The next big sound out of Africa

Without any doubt and with supreme conviction, Afro-Fuji and Afro-Highlife are the next levels for Nigerian music. In five to ten years' time expect these sounds to take over and be on a global dominant rallying.

Billboard best songs of 2022: Tems debut at No 9 as Wizkid and Burna Boy make the list

Meanwhile, recalls reporting that Afrobeat continues to put the music world in a chokehold, as the Billboard Best Songs of 2022 top 100 list confirms the growth once again and global recognition of the Nigerian music culture.

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Nigerian female singer and songwriter Tems yet again earned herself more accolades with her song 'Free Mind' ranking at number nine on the Billboard top 100 best songs of the year.

While Billboard Afrobeat regulars Burna Boy and Wizkid completed the list of the African contingents on the top best songs of the year.


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