Somewhere you should go… Afrobeats Music Festival at Camden Crawl

Back in the 70s when the legendary Fela Kuti had the genius idea of combining traditional Yoruba music with funk, jazz and highlife, it wasn’t long before “afrobeat” crossed over and set the legend on course to becoming one of the greatest musical exports to come out of the continent. Fast forward over 40 years and it looks like a new generation of African artists are reviving the spirit of the genre, but with a reckless twist; instead of the flamboyant tribalism of Kuti’s era, this new brand of afrobeat(s) – african pop music – is fun, flashy and youthful, being led by a gang of sharp-suited, bling-wearing rappers and singers who proudly spit in their mother tongue (and sometimes in autotune). “It’s a good vibe,” says DJ Neptizzle, a Vietnamese DJ who regular spins at afrobeat parties all over Europe. ” It’s almost like how bashment or dancehall was 8 years ago. Everybody can listen to it and they wouldn’t even care (about where the artists are from).  It’s dance music, and it’s different.”

Despite Afrobeats going back nearly a decade, 2011 was a massive year for the music in London, following the soldout Afrobeats Festival in the summer  – and even US heavyweights were getting in on the act, with Kanye West making a surprise appearance at the show of his new signing, D’Banj, a singer from Nigeria.  And now with afrobeats getting playlisted on Radio 1, dances like the “Azonto” catching on  and the popular single  Oliver Twist getting an official release this month,  superfans like Rickie from @AfrobeatsUK believe 2012 will be a massive year for the scene. “People like DJ Abrantee on Choice FM are commercialising afrobeats…and Tim Westwood has started playing afrobeats on his show.  There’s been alot of development, with African artists coming over here and selling out…it will become more popular.”

DJ Abrantee hosts the Afrobeats Music Festival at Roundhouse on Sunday, May 6th (followed by Afrobeat Sundays at Proud 2, O2 Arena).  For more info, visit www.thecamdencrawl.com/artist/afrobeats

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