Accelerated by the arrival of MTV Base Africa in the mid 2000s, stars began to emerge across the continent. Artists M.I Abaga, Naeto C and Sarkodie were followed in the late 2000s by the likes of 2Baba, P-Square, and Flavour N’abania. By 2011, Wizkid’s ‘Holla At Your Boy’ and D’Bani’s ‘Oliver Twist’ reached a global audience for the first time. In the UK, this was amplified by radio shows dedicated solely to Afrobeats, not least that of Choice FM’s DJ Abrantee, who is widely credited with coining the term for a new generation of listeners. As Sierra Leone rapper Drizilik describes, fresh from a collaboration with London rapper Big Zuu, “Afrobeats connects people from across different cultures across Africa. In the UK, Afrobeats is what connects Africans to their roots.”
The exchange isn’t just one-way. In 2015, Wizkid’s ‘Ojuelegba’ was remixed by Skepta and Drake, setting the foundations for ‘One Dance’ - the standout track of Drake’s 2016 album Views, which featured Wizkid and South African producer DJ Maphorisa and became the most streamed song of the year. Artists like Fuse ODG helped popularise the music in the UK, where J Hus would pioneer the derivation, Afroswing, bringing together Afrobeats, dancehall and a potent blend of trap, hip-hop, RnB and grime.