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The evolution of Afrobeat

WIDE APPEAL: West End musical Fela! celebrated Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti

AFRICAN MUSIC has evolved in the last five years, seeing it come to the forefront of popular culture and thus attaining world recognition. Evidence of this is the MTV Europe Awards, BET Awards and the MOBOs having a Best African Act category for the first time.

In addition, London radio station Choice FM recently launched a music slot dedicated to African music, namely Afro Beats with DJ Abrantee; a move that made Choice FM a trending topic on social network Twitter.

The evolution of Afrobeat has seen the genre gain steady ground over the years and when acclaimed musical Fela! – a production that chronicled the rise of Nigerian music legend Fela Kuti – came to London’s National Theatre, it sold out.

There has also been a crossover from Caribbean audiences, who have come to appreciate and enjoy African culture. This has been evident in the increase of Caribbean audiences watching Nollywood films and listening to the sounds of Africa.

African pride and African heritage are openly celebrated in the UK. Young people now openly identify with their cultural heritage; an act that, 10 years ago would have encountered stigmatism.

Gone are the days when young African people felt ashamed to be African for fear of exclusion. We are now in a time where young people are proud to be African and are thus expressing their pride in their music and other creative outlets.

To further affirm the acceptance of Afrobeats into the fabric of mainstream society, Choice FM in association with Cokobar.com, Phoenix Media, Smade & HITV will present the Afrobeats Festival in London next month.

Featuring some of Africa’s biggest and best artists and comics, the event hosted by DJ Abrantee, sees the amalgamation of organisations who are dedicated to bringing the best of African entertainment to those who appreciate African music and culture.

Nigerian pop stars P-Square will feature on the eclectic bill. With sold-out stadium and arena concerts under their belts, the UK audience should expect an incredible show from the world famous group comprised of twin brothers Peter and Paul Okoye.

Also performing is Nigerian star WizKid who, with over 46,000 Twitter followers and phenomenal sales of his new album Superstar, is sure to wow the crowds in what will be his first UK performance.

Joining the line up is the charismatic Ice Prince, well-known for his crowd pleaser Oleku. Ice Prince brings hip-hop to a whole new level to form what is best described as Afro Hip-Hop; a fusion of traditional rap with a melodic blend of African dialect. A recent guest on the renowned UK hip-hop DJ Tim Westwood’s Radio One show, Ice Prince is set to light up the stage at the Afrobeats Festival.

Speaking on the event, DJ Abrantee says: “The Afrobeats Festival is one that has come at the right time when the world is now paying attention to African entertainment. With the show’s line up, a lot of people will be shocked at what Africa has to offer. To all listeners of the Afro Beats show every Saturday on Choice FM, the stage is set for a truly memorable night."

Ropo Akin, CEO of African entertainment company Cokobar added: “The Afrobeats Festival is certainly more than an event for us. We have joined forces with the best teams to showcase the best of Africa and we will also be showcasing talents from all parts of Africa.

“We hope to take African entertainment to new heights and eventually have our own version of Glastonbury – why not?”

The Afrobeats Festival certainly looks set to be an epic event, showcasing the best in African music and culture at HMV Hammersmith Apollo, London, on August 28. For more information visit www.cokobar.com

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