Back to top


A combination of West-African and Afro-American music, originated in Nigeria in the 1960s. Founder of the genre was the Nigerian saxophonist, keyboard player and band leader Fela Kuti (1938-1997). He mixed traditional Nigerian percussion with American funk and jazz - James Brown was a great source of inspiration - and christened this mixture afrobeat. Also important was the role of his drummer Tony Allen, without whom according to Kuti 'the afrobeat would never have existed'. Kuti's lyrics were highly political, which regularly got him into trouble with the Nigerian regime. Afrobeat had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. Especially in Nigeria, but also in other West African countries such as Ghana and Cameroon. After the death of Fela Kuti, his son Femi Kuti and his drummer Tony Allen took over the torch. In the United States the band Antibalas, formed in 1998, caused renewed interest in the afrobeat.