African music didn’t happen to be like it is today. Traditional African music was based on religion. Songs and music were used in rituals and religious ceremonies. That’s where it was very important, and also used as a mean of passing down the education in it from one generation to another, of course, orally. In late 19th century the African music was much less of amusement, pleasing or entertaining, because the aim was to express the ways of life of a certain community. It all shared the aspect of guiding that very community in their daily lives for different generations. It is important to say that due to the content given in those songs, the people tend to admire/like them not because they were meant for that specific generation but because it was a banal music for even every generation, even some of those songs, are still popular.
Besides vocal, songs were made using techniques such as complex hard melisma and yodel, and wide array of musical instruments were used as well. African musical instruments include different types of drums, slit gongs, rattles, double bells as well as melodic instruments like string instruments, such as: musical bows, different types of harps and harp-like instruments such as the Kora as well as fiddles, many kinds of xylophones and lamellophones; like the mbira, and different types of wind instrument like flutes and trumpets. A few mix of instruments were used, due the natural uniqueness found in their work. On the contrary, nowadays, the music originality might even get lost in strong beats, over using of melodies and some poor lyrics. That exquisite uniqueness kept it admired and inspires music lovers.
Shortly, African music come to its development (in 20th century) through the changes occurred in local economies of the countries. As time went by, music became more of a business than an amusement where artist began to be paid for performances. Also the growth of Nollywood, the Nigerian Film industry, which later inspired the music industry for the rest of African nations. The younger African musicians were supported by different institution. For instance, Nigerian local telecom firms like MTN and Globacom have been sponsoring music industry. African music growth, also lies on Sony Music company, the global music giant opened a Lagos office in February 29, 2016. But it is still true that there are some dominating countries in Music industry like, Nigeria, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
For the African artists, the dreams have grown far beyond. They all sought-after the collaboration with big stars in America and elsewhere they can find them. So far, many of the African stars have collaborated with some American stars like Fally Ipupa featuring R. kelly in Nidja, P-square ft Rick Ross and Akon in Beautiful Onyinye, Tiwa Savage ft Omarion in Get it now, last but not least, Diamond Platnumz ft Rick Ross in Waka. With the help of international recognition, some American stars come all the way to Africa to collaborate with the stars like, Ciara ft Techno in Freak me. Some of these singers and others who are not mentioned have won local and international awards, due to their performances, collaborations, groups and so forth, like in 2016, Wizkid (Nigeria) was the artist and the best male of the year in The MTV African Music Award, where Yemi Alade (Nigeria) was the best female of the year, whereas the best collaboration was given to DJ Maphorisa feat. Wizkid & DJ Buckz (South Africa/Nigeria) and the Best group was Souti sol(Kenya). There are others like Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo known as Angélique Kidjo, she has two Grammy awards; one in 2007 another in 2014 all because of her 2 albums (Djin Djin-2007 & EVE-2014). Even though the numbers are still short, the singers, producers, song-writers, Djs and others involved, are working hard just to raise the flags of their countries and the name of their continent worldwide.
The success of African music is displayed in the evolution it has made few decades ago. Now, it is on the verge of competing the western music industries and of course some biggest music companies have already came in Africa to expand their institutions and improve the music career at the same time. Like Sony. African musicians have been signing numerous contracts with biggest companies in the world; like Sony I mentioned above, had contract with, Tekno Miles, Davido (2016), Tiwa Savage, Wizkid (2016) also signed a deal with Nike (2018) and Ali kiba aka King (2016) and others. The statements made by some of African musician, really shows how enthusiastic they were for such a great deal. Like; “Today is a day when history is being made. I had always promised my fans that I would make them proud one day and I dedicated this to them for it calls for a celebration”, said Ali kiba aka King, after signing a deal with Sony Music Entertainment Africa in Johannesburg May, 2016 (reported by The Citizen). Indeed, African music is succeeding due to the fact that some (African musician) own their labels which helps to brand and promote the production of its recording artists Such labels are: StarBoy owned by Wizkid, WCB Wasafi by Diamond Platnumz, Mavin by Don Jazzy among many others. In addition, these labels promote their recording artist. by selling their albums abroad, organizing some concerts, and seeking collaboration with other labels overseas on their behalf. not only the labels are benefited but also the artists, by getting an international recognition. especially in the concerts made overseas, like Wizkid in One Africa Music Fest2018 (August,2018), Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, Coney Island, NY, US, alongside with Diamond Platnumz, Eddy Kenzo, Tekno, Sarkodie, Flavour and other more. Also Diamond Platnumz performed in London; O2 Academy Brixton, London, UK and he was lined up with the legend Ne-Yo, Friday,16th, December ,2016. There are many more concerts and performances of African musicians abroad, which are the promising step _forward to succeeding of African music. Not only are they performing overseas, also they’ve won some awards owing to their hit/dominating songs. Like the best song of 2013 by Yemi Alade-JOHNNY, produced by Selebobo was given the award of Best pop single & Song of the year. And as of now, that song has 94Millions of views on YouTube.
To cut the long story short, comparing the late African music and today’s afro beat, you can point out that, there has been a great deal done by both the musicians as personal and the advantages given by the increase of the local economy of the countries. Also the music promoting companies and labels which insures the promotion of the stars and the continent as whole. And we can say that it has been done successfully, though there are still much to be done.