‘Africa to the world’ and ‘Afrobeats to the world,’ these are sentences that have been said several times in reference to records and milestones made by African acts that serve to push African music forward. While it is a phrase used commonly it is also one that carries a lot of historical weight, spotlighting the journey sounds from the continent have made before travelling round the world. In honour of Africa Day, the 25th of August, here are 10 of the biggest moments in music that highlight the ‘Africa to the world’ saying.
1. 2Baba brings Africa to the MTV Awards Stage
16 years ago when Afrobeats was still a sound that was mainly appreciated in Nigeria, 2Baba, formerly know as 2face had placed the sound and industry on a global scale with his debut at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
The singer had with his romantic hit single, African Queen unlocked two feats, the first being the fact that the visuals to his song was the first video to be played on MTV Base Africa when it launched on the 22nd of February. And the second had been him being the first African act to win the MTV EMAs for Best African Act.
2. D’banj’s Oliver Twist conquers the UK
Till date, whenever the bouncy electronic beats of D’banj’s Oliver Twist plays, the song never ceases to have an obvious effect on its listeners. Such is and was the irresistible pull of the song that it climbed to the number nine spot on the UK national charts.
Oliver Twist was such a hit, it had also made waves in the United States and had been instrumental in getting Kanye West to not only give ear to his music but also make an appearance. American rapper, Big Sean also made a cameo appearance in the video as well.
3. The Wins of the Wizkid-assisted One Dance by Drake
Right this very moment, Drake celebrates his Billboard Awards win as the Artiste of the Decade. This is a recognition that strongly started to take shape in April 2016 following the release of his Wizkid and Kayla-assisted hit single, One Dance for his fourth studio album, Views.
One Dance which bore Wizkid’s vocals, and his influence as a tastemaker where Afrobeats was concerned as he is credited for writing the song that has earned its mark as one of the biggest songs of the decade. In fact, in 2018, One Dance had made a Guinness World Record by being the song with the highest number of SpotifEy plays with a billion streams. The mega-hit also got platinum-certified a total of 7 times and is to date Drake’s biggest song.
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4. Davido’s Fall Makes Shazam Record
In October 2018, a year after the release of Davido’s Fall, a song which is currently one of the biggest Afrobeats song and the singer’s personal biggest, the song reached new heights in the genre by being the most Shazamed song in New York.
Davido’s Fall beat tracks like Travis Scott’s Sicko Mode and Lil Wayne’s Uproar to be number one on the Shazam charts for most searched out song.
5. Wizkid sells out London’s 02 Arena
The London-based 02 Arena at full capacity sits 20,000 people and in November 2018 Wizkid became the first African artiste to sell out the arena at the AfroRepublik concert and then he had a repeat of the feat the next year during his Starboy Fest.
Prior to this, the megastar had sold out the Royal Albert Hall which sits 5,200 people and was the first afrobeats artiste to do so on a list of African acts from other genres.
6. Angelique Kidjo and her Grammys
With 4 Grammys, Angelique Kidjo has proved herself over and over again as Mama Africa. Suprisingly, the singer’s Grammy streaks had gone relatively unnoticed till her 2020 win in the Global Music Album category where Nigerian singer, Burna Boy was also nominated. She’d then graciously dedicated the award to him, assuring him that he had greater wins ahead.
Kidjo’s 4 Grammy awards makes her the sub-saharan African artiste with the most Grammys with all wins falling under the World Music category.
7. Shatta Wale and Beyonce partnering up on Already
When Beyonce executively produced the album to Disney’s Lion King: The Gift album, she’d described it as her love letter to Africa. With a selection of some of the best musical talents in the continent, it wasn’t hard to see the vision. For Ghana, they’d been represented by reggae and dancehall sensation, Shatta Wale. And with Beyonce alongside Shatta Wale, they’d made a banger record with super energetic visuals which not only spotted African art in different forms but was a showcase of popular legwork dance, Zanku, with origins from the streets of Lagos.
8. Davido sells out 02 Arena
In 2019, Davido who’d previously stated that he was inspired by Wizkid’s feat at the 02 Arena all, did as he said he would and also sold out the 02 Arena. The singer hosted a star-studded show where he was introduced by British actor, Idris Elba and was supported by acts like Dremo, Zlatan, Tomi Agape, Victor AD and more.
The 20,000 large crowd at the arena for Davido’s show also comprised international cultural powerhouses like British supermodel, Naomi Campbell, British Vogue editor, Edward Enninful and British DJ, Tim Westwood.
9. Jerusalema becomes the most shazamed song in the world
When Master KG’s Nomcebo-assisted South-African house single Jerusalema made a stopover in Nigeria, it had also been simultaneously and gradually working its way to other corners of the world on the back of the Jerusalema challenge. Released in 2019, its impact had carried over to the next year and on the 8th of September 2020, Shazam announced that the song was the most Shazamed song in the world.
10. Burna Boy’s Twice as Tall wins a Grammy in new category
Prior to the 63rd edition of the Grammy awards which held on the 15th of March, the recording association had made some major changes in the titles of some categories. One of such was the category predominantly won by African artistes, The Best World Music album. According to the academy, this category’s name was changed to “Best Global Music” to avoid “connotations of colonialism.”
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The 63rd edition was the inaugural version where the award was given with its new label and Burna Boy was the first African artiste to win the award for his Twice as Tall album.
Presently, African music has continued to become an even bigger deal globally and the ‘Africa to the world’ sentence is very much alive as a result. And this makes these moments super significant in the unfolding of events. Which of them do you remember most vividly and is for you, your personal favourite highlight? Share it with us in the comments section.
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