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Thoughts with Mild Sauce

The Future of Afrobeats.. is Now?

Published 3 months ago • 3 min read

Remember when I predicted more Afrobeats artists would collaborate with African American ones this year? Well, it's already happening. And quite swiftly at that. This is bittersweet for me. A bit hot and cold, if you will.

Hot: Black unity! Y'all know I am here for people of the African Diaspora collaborating and creating entirely new sounds. Something special always happens when elements of our music blend. It's the main way we begin to rebuild the bridges that have disconnected us (*cough* colonization).

BTW: Happy Black History (+ Futures) Month!

Cold: America always finds a way to America. No matter what, this place (and the West at large) is unfortunately where the focus always is. I fear this new iteration of Afrobeats will very clearly sound 20% African and 80% American in order to please the latter audience and make more coin for artists.

Discussions around if artists not directly descended from Africa can make Afrobeats disinterests me. I don't partake. African Americans and Jamaicans created Hip-Hop, a genre once very connected to the status of disadvantaged neighborhoods across America. Today, the world thinks the genre is a free for all. Many Black people across the world use elements of Hip-Hop as inspiration—fashion and graffiti included– or create songs in the genre. For example, Show Dem Camp are OGs in Nigerian Hip-Hop and I love their music. Not to mention Ghanian duo R2Bees' Hip-Hop and Hiplife sound.

Simply put, I don't think any African descended peoples can appropriate what's of their lineage—though I do think ignorance can lead to inauthentic music. Afrobeats feels very connected to the soil. Collaborations can help circumvent imitative music, especially at a time when more Black people around the world having growing interests in visiting the continent, thanks to Afrobeats.

In this life, money always seems to have the final say. My hope is that artists reflect on the shifts of genres, like Hip-Hop, and create a stance on how much they are willing to give and take while creating more Afrobeats (or Afro-Fusion?) music. To keep the music's feel-good, need-to-dance elements, authenticity has to be priority. Though my biggest hope is that we leave artists like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez out of it. That'll be a rant for another day.

What do you think about the kinds of music coming from African artists collaborating with Black Americans? Let me know!


Chunes

When I heard Gunna on Victor Thompson's viral "THIS YEAR (Blessings)" remix I knew we'd entered a new era. Late last year Gunna took another stab at an Afrobeats collaboration with superstar producer Sarz's "Happiness" alongside the people's favorite Asake. Whether you understand Yoruba or not, Asake's flow in this track is undeniably smooth paired with Gunna's bars (minus the random "amapiano" line.. LOL). Even though it released in December, I think it'll be an even bigger tune in the summer.

My favorite producer Pheelz does it again with "Ruin"! I must admit, I did not see the Usher collab coming at all. I mean: Las Vegas residency to Super Bowl Performance to new album to tour announcement? Maybe I should have seen this coming. The people running strategy over there at #TeamUsher are working hard! Beyond the song's slow and sultry sound, its lyrics are far too relatable:

*Claps* for the lyrics in "Ruin" and big boos to all the Ruin-ers! To all my soldiers of love, we move!



Find Me

I'm in my corporate era and I'm very much so not mad at it. After an amazing set at Apple Michigan Avenue earlier this month for Party Noire's Black History Month collaboration, I'm excited to return to City Bureau as the team welcomes their new executive director.

Then, I'll be deejaying for UChicago's Arts & Public Life's 2024 Resident Welcome Reception the following Thursday. I'm so grateful to bring the sounds from deep in my heart to the Chicago community. Write me at this email if you're interested in booking me for your events.. and parties. Diaspora loves a good party!


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Thoughts with Mild Sauce

by DJ Diaspora

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