Nigerians Concerned Reggae, Dancehall Fading Away, As Artists Switch To Afrobeats

While the BBC made much of what it described as Ghana’s “love affair with Reggae” earlier this year, there has seemingly been love lost in Nigeria, where other reports are that the West African country’s Dancehall and Reggae stars, among them Patoranking, have ditched the Jamaican genre, in favor of Afrobeats.

In an article published in February this year, the BBC noted that “Afrobeats may be the dominant sound right now in Ghana, as in many other African countries, but the sounds of Jamaica can still be heard blaring through the speakers of Ghana’s roadside and beach bars almost every day” and that “Thursdays are reggae night in two big clubs in the capital, Accra – turning up the heat in an already hot climate”.

Conversely, the Nigerian Daily Post noted a few days ago that “it remains to be seen whether the former popular genres of reggae and dancehall will regain their prominence or fade quietly into the past”, as Afrobeat continues to evolve and shape the Nigerian musical landscape.

The BBC had noted that “Jamaican musicians such as the late greats Bob Marley and Peter Tosh and the group Culture have long been credited with planting the seeds of reggae music on African soil 50 years ago – and Ghana shows the roots have grown deep, and gone on to produce homegrown talent”.

It also noted that Reggae has been instrumental in spreading the message of Rastafari and has been “a cheerleader for Africa – singing about the beauty of the continent, boasting of its natural resources while calling for people in the diaspora to return to the motherland, which has gone a long way to solidify the bond between Reggae and Africa, especially during and after colonial rule”.

The BBC added, “it makes sense that Ghana, among the first African countries to gain independence (from the UK in 1957), gravitates to the sounds of struggle and strife associated with reggae. It has had plenty of struggle and strife, having experienced six military coups between the 1960s and 1980s”.

It listed Stonebwoy, Shatta Wale, as two of the biggest Reggae/Dancehall stars as well as Kojo Antwi aka Mr Music Man, and Rocky Dawuni, who made “waves on the global reggae scene with the 1998 hit In Ghana” and whose “growing popularity saw some of his tracks featuring on various US TV dramas and three Grammy nominations to his name”.


But the Nigerian Daily Post noted, in an article titled “Reggae, dancehall, others face extinction as afrobeat dominates Nigerian music”, that while Reggae and Dancehall were among the dominant musical genres in Nigeria at the turn of the century, “right right now, Afrobeat has effectively taken over the music industry.”

According to the publication, some music fans worry that other subgenres may soon fade away due to how popular the African genre has become. 

“At its height, reggae was the mainstay of Nigerian music. Majek Fashek, Ras Kimono, Victor Essiet (from “The Mandators”), Evi Edna Ogoli, and Peterside Ottong, among others, captivated audiences both domestically and abroad. Dancehall, a subgenre of reggae, became popular between the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s,” the article noted.

It added that “Dancehall became a powerful voice that addressed societal ills and criticised the state of governance” and was particularly popular on the streets of Ajegunle, Lagos’ and that Ragga and galala, described as two additional reggae derivatives and subgenres, also experienced a boom thanks to artists like Daddy Showkey, Marvellous Benji, Raymond King, and Junglist.

Afrobeat, it noted, had early pioneers, artists such as  D’banj and P-Square, who marked a significant turning point in Nigerian music, and that “those who would carry out the transformation started to emerge within a decade”.

“What is amazing about Afrobeat is how strongly it appeals to supporters of other genres who have given up the music they are naturally drawn to in favour of trying the new fusion that has become the sound of Africa… Nonetheless, most music lovers are perplexed by how Afrobeat continues to grow while other genres are in decline.”

The article cited DJ Slixm, a well-known figure in the music business, as saying that Afrobeat’s popularity was due to its adaptability, while Dancehall’s “repetitive beats and patterns are a drawback that has aided in the genre’s dwindling appeal”.

“The genre’s lack of innovation and fresh sounds has caused listeners to seek new musical experiences, leading to the emergence of other genres such as afrobeat that offer a diverse range of sounds and styles,” he is quoted as saying.

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