URBAN TRENDS: BBC UK Afro beats chart

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Afrobeats has quickly grown to dominate playlists and radios and television, with global artists, especially UK artists developing their own style and sound such as Afroswing and Afro bashment from its origins in Africa.

Hence, British Broadcasting Corporation has recently launched the first ever official UK Afrobeats Top 20 on BBC Radio 1Xtra.

As anticipated, Mark Strippel,​ BBC radio 1Xtra’s head of programmes​ has since described the chart as “much-needed and long overdue”.

But, mind the ‘s’ in the ‘Afro beats’. The ‘s’ in Afrobeats is apparently crucial to the chart.

Listeners are advised not to confuse it with Afrobeat which was pioneered in the late 1960s by Nigerian artist and activist Fela Kuti.

Fela and his drummer Tony Allen formed a movement when they fused funk and jazz with Ghanaian highlife, traditional Yoruba music and conscious lyrics.

Fast forward to 2010, we saw the rise of another musical movement out of Nigeria with a completely different sound, dubbed Afrobeats.

D’Banj’s 2012 hit Oliver Twist, which reached number nine in the UK charts, was probably the first time the sound really took hold in the UK, according to pundits.

Afrobeats further reached new levels internationally when Drake featured Wizkid on 2016’s One Dance.

It’s arguably not got too much of an Afrobeats sound, borrowing more from dancehall and UK funky house, but it put a spotlight on Wizkid and the genre he flies the flag for.

In 2019, according to BBC, Afrobeats artists collectively spent 86 weeks in the Official Chart Top 40, up from 24 weeks in 2017.

The number of tracks featuring a lead or featured Afrobeats act has also doubled in the same period, led predominantly by British artists.

Malawi urban music has, on the other hand, evolved and improved in terms of quality. We are producing music and videos that meet international standards.

The biggest challenge has always been finding a way to breakthrough the international media just like our Nigerian and South Africa counterparts.

The BBC UK Afro beats chart is a global chart. We should therefore seize this opportunity and make as many submissions as possible.

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