How afrobeats grew into one of the most popular music genres in the Netherlands

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NOS News

  • Suhayla Halouchi

    editor online

  • Suhayla Halouchi

    editor online

Burna Boy will be in Gelredome next summer. He is announced as the first African artist to headline a stadium in the Netherlands. Not surprising when you realize that Afrobeats, one of the genres originating from West Africa, has been loved by young people for some time now. The fusion of West African pop music and influences from hip-hop, house and R&B is extremely popular.

Partly due to collaborations with major Western artists such as Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran, the genre has become more well-known in recent times. In the Netherlands, a young audience in particular has discovered the genre.

Afro sound is becoming more and more popular

The popularity of afrobeats is also due to the influence of major pop and hip-hop artists in the Netherlands. Frenna, one of the most popular artists whose roots lie in Ghana, and the rap group SFB, of which he is a member, among others, have had the Afro sound in their hits for years. You can also hear that from other artists who are listened to a lot here, especially by young people, such as Drake.

You will notice that the genre is popular on streaming platforms and TikTok, where the song Love Nwantiti by Nigerian artist Ckay was streamed more than 15 billion times, but also at concerts and festivals.

The previous times when Burna Boy from Nigeria performed on stages here, the halls were sold out in no time. Last year, the international superstar performed at the Lowlands Festival, which attracted 180,000 visitors.

Last Last by Burna Boy, a big hit last summer:

Other Nigerian singers who regularly score international hits such as Wizkid and Rema also performed in the Netherlands last year. In De Kuip, she and Ckay performed at the biggest urban festival in Europe, Oh My.

Ckay previously told NOS: “It feels good to be part of a culture that now also gets more attention worldwide. It doesn’t happen often that something that belongs to a certain culture becomes popular all over the world. So it feels very amazing.”

The Dutch audience at Oh My also recognized this feeling of Ckay: “The music connects you with the culture and with everyone who comes,” one visitor told NOS. At the festival, young people from different backgrounds seemed to enjoy the performances: “All kinds of cultures listen to it, and I think that’s only good, the rhythm makes everyone move automatically.” ONE another boy explained how the music reminds him of his childhood: “I grew up with this sound.”

Musical team

Dutch radio stations have also discovered the genre, meaning its popularity extends beyond just young people. That Burna Boy will soon be in the Gelredome does not surprise Fernando Halman, radio DJ at FunX: “It’s impossible not to love Burna Boy. His catchy melodies Yes, On the low and Last Last grabs you immediately and keeps you in a musical hold. He stood out even more internationally when in 2021 he also picked up a Grammy for his fifth album.”

“This music creates a connection,” adds Halman. “One of the magical aspects of music is that you can bring people together from different corners of the world by falling in love with a shared feeling.”

Any new subculture in music that has a chance to succeed has to come from young people.

Niels Nieuborg, producer under the name Arp Frique

Niels Nieuborg, who produces music under his pseudonym Arp Frique, draws inspiration from this genre, among other things. “Arp Frique is also ahead Africa.”

Nieuborg also notices that African music is increasing in popularity: “But not only Afrobeats, also amapiano (a house genre, ed.) is becoming increasingly popular here.” This is also due to the club culture, he explains: “It is used, among other things, as club music, so it can go viral very quickly.”

But whether the listeners immediately think of the African roots when they hear the music, Nieuborg doubts: “Not everyone is aware that it comes from West Africa. You are in the club and you hear Afrobeats and amapiano, and it sounds just good but true it does. doesn’t matter to everyone.”

Development starts with the young

Young people are at the forefront of developments in music, says Nieuborg. He also expects Afrobeats to come from a young movement, become popular in that group and then conquer the whole of the Netherlands.

Nieuborg: “That’s how it’s always been. Any new subculture in music – if it’s to succeed – has to come from the younger people. If you go all the way back in time, jazz was also a thing – a kind of barbaric wild music that stood out over classical music by the ‘sophisticated listener’.”

Calm Down by Nigerian artist Rema, a worldwide hit last summer, also in the Netherlands:

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