Tinashe Put Me On to Afrobeats

Hopeful is the best way to describe my feelings towards Tinashe’s budding career, but the music industry is a hell of a beast and it takes the internet no time to get folks outta the paint. Nonetheless, she’s delivered countless bops and even played a part in my introduction to a new sound that’s really grown on me.

Afrobeats is a West African and British lovechild that draws influence from American hip-hop, Ghanaian “hiplife” and Nigerian “Naija” beats. It is the namesake of a sound created by Fela Kuti, who is often heralded as the Bob Marley of Nigeria.

I first heard “How Long” by Davido and Tinashe last fall, as I tend to take interest in her musical endeavors. Their voices blended perfectly and the production was unlike anything I’d heard before. A few months later, Davido’s “If” was released and I became a fan soon thereafter.

Then I discovered there was Wizkid, Maleek Berry, Mr Eazi, Juls, Stonebwoy, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and a slew of others and I was hooked.

While some may consider Afrobeats a dumbed down version of what Kuti started or a ploy to position Africa within global culture, I was drawn to its youthfulness and creativity. It was refreshing to see young artists expounding a new wave and interpolating international sounds while visually and sonically preserving some of their cultural identity. It also served as an affirmation that emerging artists are capable of more than trap beats and strip club anthems.

And I’m still hopeful for Tinashe but if things don’t work out in the R&B/pop world, I’d love to hear her on some more Afrobeats joints. Heck, she’s got the Zimbabwean roots.