Ghanaian Afrobeats Infuse the Global Music Scene with a Distinct Flavor


Although today’s new wave of Afrobeats music scene is dominated by West African giant Nigeria, it’s neighboring sister nation Ghana has been steadily emerging thanks to Icon Fela Kuti.

The music is not only played in Accra’s clubs, but also on a vast foreign market outside Ghana’s borders. Stonebwoy, a Ghanaian Afrobeats artist who has earned multiple international awards, exemplifies this upward trend.

Stonebwoy’s Insights on Afrobeats

While sharing his thoughts on the current state of the genre, this is what he had to say while in his Accra recording studio:

“Not only is Afrobeats extremely successful in Ghana, but it’s also gaining real international attention.”

The artist, who has 3.6 million Instagram followers also acknowledged the fact that Afrobeats festivals were popping throughout Europe, India, and Bangladesh. He stated that he was happy to see West African music progressing across the globe.

He also explained that his music was diversified. That is, it isn’t strictly conventional. It combines western music with music that a foreigner can relate to. As a result, they have used the approach to cater to the rest of the planet. As they can connect with people from all walks of life.

Ghanaian Afrobeats has a distinct flavor that comes from the country’s history of highlife, a musical genre that combines traditional Ashanti rhythms with Western instruments.

The Unique Spin in Afrobeats

In an interview with Ghanaian musician and filmmaker Wanlov the Kubolor, he discussed the complexities of Ghanian Afrobeats.

“Ghanaian music stands out to me because it is more nuanced and advanced than music from other African countries. If we look at East Africa, the music is very four, very straight, while West Africa has a lot of polyrhythms and grooves.”

In one way, the Ghanaian Afrobeats differ from their Nigerian big sister: the legacy of “Highlife.”

The genre first appeared in colonized Ghana, then known as Cote-de-l’Or, at the turn of the nineteenth century, when the Ashanti people’s indigenous rhythms were combined with Western instruments brought in by the colonizers.

Highlife was responsible for Ghana’s first international success in the music industry. According to Wanlov the Kubolor, a Ghanaian-Romanian avant-garde cultural icon and author of the offbeat album Afrobeats LOL, by the 1970s, major Highlife groups like Osibisa were already filling entire stadiums.

However, as times are changing, young Ghanian artists can achieve viral success very quickly because of the internet and social media.

Nigeria and Ghana Produces Best Afrobeats

Ghanian musicians are now emerging to take their place alongside Nigerian stars with millions of social media followers, such as Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido.

Gyakie and Joey B have millions of Instagram followers, while KiDi has 1.6 million, Sarkodie has 4.4 million, and Shatta Wale has 3.2 million. Shatta Wale’s “Already,” which featured Beyonce and Major Lazer, was one of the summer’s biggest hits, ensuring Ghana’s position among the African countries that now depend on the pop scene.

“A huge interest in Ghanaian music,” says Jefferson Seneadza, co-founder of the Ghanaian music streaming site Aftown, which aims to support African music.

For example, Stonebwoy’s new album has been streamed over a million times in less than a week on the site. Gyakie, a young artist, also signed a deal with Sony Music earlier this year, shortly after a Sony Music delegation visited Ghana to scout the local market. The combination of styles, according to musicians, is the key to their success.

Refining a New Industry

Ghanaian Afrobeats artists have amassed millions of followers on social media, as well as millions of streams of their music on various foreign platforms. However, the local industry could still have some catching up to do.

Wanlov the Kubolor discusses how improvements in the industry could make it grow even faster. However, Ghana’s music scene now faces a new challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s strict health restrictions, which have been in effect since March 2020, have been a blow to the global music industry.

The cancellation of festivals and concerts, which provide the majority of income for African musicians, has undermined an already vulnerable market.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the global music industry, Ghana’s Afrobeats continue to meet fans via the internet, as Ghanaian artists traverse the nascent industry in the hopes of once again being able to tour and taking the world by storm.



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