Move to the Groove of Afrobeat Music

Looking for energetic music that will get you up on your feet? The Afrobeat music in our library will have you dancing the day away, or at least, very happily tapping your toes.

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Celebrate Afrobeat Culture

Effortlessly celebrate Afrobeat culture by including the music in your next video, podcast, or dance party. Whether the subject of your video or podcast focuses explicitly on Afrobeat culture or would simply benefit from a wildly catchy tune, by sharing the sounds of Afrobeat, you celebrate its unique, artistic stylings.

Amplified Cultural Dancing

Afrobeat music was practically made for dancing, so it is no surprise that so many dance moves and styles look right at home when these tunes are playing. From Ghana’s Akwaaba, Pilolo, and Azonto to Nigeria’s ShakuShaku, South Africa’s Vosho to Kenya’s Odi, Afrobeat listeners may quickly discover that the music is so infectious, they can’t help but get up and break out some moves.

Exploration of World Music

Take a trip around the world from the comfort of your home by perusing the world music available to you within the PremiumBeat library. Our extensive Genres filter makes it easy for you to search and find the world music of your choice. With Afrobeat song titles such as “Kenya” and “Ghana,” you will have an immediate sense of what country you will soon be visiting. All you have to do is press PLAY.
About Afrobeat Music
What is Afrobeat?
Afrobeat is a genre of popular music that combines elements of West African music, such as fuji and highlife, with American jazz, funk, and soul. The music focuses on chanted vocals, complex intersecting rhythms, and percussive beats. It has been passed on through generations as a proud part of an African identity. Afrobeat tends to include a wide range of instruments. The conga, akuba, claves, shekere, gbedu, as well as the saxophone, trumpet, guitar, drums, trombone, and organ can all be heard. The lyrics featured in Afrobeat songs are often highly political. Afrobeat is distinct from Afrobeats, a sound that originated in West Africa in the 21st century and incorporates a wide range of genres, from hip hop to house, R&B to soca.
Where did Afrobeat originate from?
Afrobeat was born in Ghana in the 1920s. Local musicians incorporated foreign musical styles such as the foxtrot and calypso with their familiar Ghanaian rhythms like osibsiaba and Yoruba percussive and vocal traditions. The term “Afrobeat '' was later coined by Nigerian multi-culturalist, political activist, and bandleader Fela Kuti in the 1960s. He pioneered this style in Nigeria and popularized it outside of his home country. The name “Afrobeat'' came about in part to differentiate Kuti’s music from the soul music of American artists such as James Brown. Kuti’s Afrobeat features native Nigerian harmonies and rhythms, while he also modernized the sound and improvised upon them. Kuti utilized social criticism to enact social change, and his Afrobeat music was also deeply political. Kuti read the writings of many American activists, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Angela Davis, Jesse Jackson to his biggest influence, Malcom X. The political injustice and military corruption prevalent in many African countries in the 1970s affected Kuti and in turn, his music.
What is the difference between Afrobeat and jazz?
The major difference between the two musical genres lies in their respective origins. While jazz developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the African American communities of New Orleans, Afrobeat emerged from Ghana in the 1920s and was later dubbed “Afrobeat” in Nigeria in the 1960s. Jazz is rooted in blues and ragtime, while Afrobeat combines various elements of West African music, such as highlife, with American jazz, funk, and soul. There is a certain degree of cross-pollination that happens in terms of musical influences. Some say Afrobeat combines jazz and traditional West African music, while others say American jazz musicians were attracted to Afrobeat. So it seems there was a bit of a dance, a give and take, between the two musical genres. In fact, a number of collaborations have occurred between Afrobeat artists and jazz musicians.
What language is Afrobeat?
When Fela Kuti coined the term “Afrobeat” in the 1960s, he was singing in a combination of Pidgin English and Yoruba, the language most prominently spoken in Southwestern Nigeria. You can easily find Afrobeat songs both with and without vocals by using the advanced filters on the PremiumBeat search engine. Search “Afrobeat” and then look at the filters on the left side of the page. Click the “Vocals” dropdown menu and click one of the options, such as “All Vocals” or “Oohs & Aahs” to hear Afrobeat songs that feature lyrics. If you would rather listen to a song that simply features the sort of beat that gets you up on your feet, scroll down to the “Advanced” dropdown menu and select “Instrumental Only.”
What BPM is Afrobeat?
The BPM of Afrobeat songs tends to range from about 95 BPM to 190 BPM, with the average BPM falling in the 110 to 120 BPM range. This catchy rhythm is part of what makes Afrobeat so danceable. Within the PremiumBeat library, you can easily search for songs that will meet your BPM needs. Simply take a look at the many advanced filter options available to you on the left side of the search page. Scroll down to the “BPM” option and adjust the sliders to your ideal range. Alternatively, you can enter “Afrobeat” into the search bar and then click the elongated circular dropdown menu at the right side of the page to select “BPM” as the way in which you would like your music results organized. You can easily opt for “BPM (lowest first)” or “BPM (highest first)”.

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How to use Afrobeat music

Using Afrobeat for dancing

Thanks to the cultural fusion of Afrobeat and its blend of traditional African musical stylings with American jazz, funk, and soul, the resulting sound is something many can’t help but dance to. With its rapid BPM and strong percussive and rhythmic elements, Afrobeat music can make a powerful addition to a dance-based fitness class. There are enough Afrobeat songs in our library for you to create an entire dance class playlist. You can also choose to try out some African and contemporary dance moves from the comfort of your own home. A quick internet search will reveal a number of tutorial dance videos that you can play on repeat until you feel confident in your newfound skills. When that day comes, and even if it doesn’t, you can throw on some Afrobeat music and move your feet.

Using Afrobeat music for videos

Afrobeat music can work well in a variety of videos. If you are creating a video that celebrates African culture, specifically the countries of Ghana and Nigeria, where Afrobeat was born, then including Afrobeat is only fitting. Afrobeat music can also sound right at home in a variety of upbeat dance videos and culturally focused documentaries. Of course, your video doesn’t have to speak explicitly about African culture. If you are simply looking for a song that will bring energy to a scene in your video, Afrobeat may be just the genre for you to explore. Keep the tone of your video in mind. Afrobeat isn’t exactly a lullaby. If anything, it has the opposite effect. It is energizing and happy, a delightful combination if it matches the content of your video, but not exactly ideal for a tragic or suspenseful moment in a film.

Mixing Afrobeat music

When it comes to mixing music, the idea is to adjust the levels of the vocals and various instruments so that the final song sounds balanced. Mixing Afrobeat music is not so different from mixing any other genre of music, but here are a few quick tips to keep your Afrobeat song on track:

Equalizing: This refers to the boosting or eliminating of specific frequencies. When it comes to Afrobeat, try 60-80hz for low frequency instruments like the kick drum, 100-200hz to add a sense of fullness to guitars, trombones, and horns, and 2.8-3khz to increase the clarity of the vocals.

Reverb: This is essentially an electronically produced echo effect. In Afrobeat music, aim for very little reverb on the lead vocals, a slightly noticeable amount of reverb on backup vocals, and little to no reverb on the bass guitar.

Compressing: This involves turning down the loudest part of a sound to make the average sound levels more consistent. With Afrobeat, a couple key compression ratios include 2:1 for drums, 2:1 for vocals, and 4:1 for bass guitar.
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