Afrobeat is a combination of Yoruba music, jazz, Highlife, and funk rhythms, fused with African percussion and vocal styles, popularized in Africa in the 1970s. Afrobeat's main creator and best known artist was the Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuti, who coined the term Afrobeat, shaped the musical structure and also the political context of the genre. Kuti launched Afrobeat in the late 60's with his famous and unequalled band Egypt 70. He had earlier played a fusion of jazz and highlife (For which he first used the term 'Afrobeat') with his Koola Lobitos Band.
Afrobeat originated from the southern part of Nigeria in the 60s where Kuti experimented with many different forms of contemporary music of the time. Prevalent in his music are native African harmonies and rhythms, taking different elements and combining, modernizing and improvising upon them. Politics are essential to the genre of Afrobeat, since founder Kuti used social criticism to pave the way for social change. His message can be described as confrontational and controversial, which can be related to the political climate of most of the African countries in the 60s, many of which were dealing with political injustice and military corruption while recovering from the transition from colonial governments to self-determination.
Many jazz musicians have been attracted to Afrobeat. From Roy Ayers in the seventies to Randy Weston in the nineties, there have been collaborations which have resulted in albums such as Africa: Centre of the World by Roy Ayers, released on the Polydor label in 1981. In 1994 Branford Marsalis, the American jazz saxophonist, included samples of Fela's "Beast of No Nation" on his Buckshot leFonque album. Afrobeat has profoundly influenced important contemporary producers like Brian Eno, who credits Fela Kuti as an influence.
Afrofunk Music Forum Blog
The Shrine Fan site for Afrobeat Music with biography's, book, DVD and gig reviews and Fela Kuti interview.
BBC Afrobeat Documentary