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Afrobeat was created by Nigerian superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in 1963. The genre will not become popular until his recordings in the 1970s when Afrobeat became popular in Nigeria and the rest of the world. By the ‘80s, his genre became well established, and he became revered for his musical ingenuity and political activism. Afrobeat is primarily rooted in Highlife, synthesized with African American musical forms like funk (particularly that of James Brown) and Jazz.

Apala is a socio-religious music style that takes root in Yoruba philosophy and poetry. Apart from Haruna Ishola who popularized this Yoruba genre of music in the 70’s, Ayinla Omowura made the genre acceptable to the public by loading his lyrics with instructive messages. As a result, Apala became the toast of everyday people— commercial drivers, meat sellers, motor mechanics, etc.


Highlife Juju Jazz

Form and Style

Afrobeat draws stylistic influences from Jazz and Highlife genres. However, its most distinguishing style is a military band marching form expressed by a unique brass section. The military band marching style also contributes to the sharpness of Afrobeat's timbre.

Unlike Fuji, Apala music genre does not incorporate western musical instruments or synthetic sounds. Also, the singing/ideas communicated through Apala songs are central to the genre.

Singing Style

Afrobeat is traditionally performed in the call and response singing style used in much of African folklore. The lead singer, until recently only male, usually sings a line, and backup singers, usually female singers, respond in non-harmonious choruses.

The lead singer, usually male, sings with an Islamic cantillation tonality The call and response singing style is a given as the backup singers either reply or harmonize the lead's melody in a chorus form. The singing is usually a rendition of a story or proverb, with the story narrated through out the duration of the track. Dynamic chorusing mostly advances the central story or idea of the song.


Most scholars disagree on a concrete pattern description for Afrobeat's musical arrangement. Admittedly, Afrobeat uses a complex system of the interplay between key instruments with less attention to established rhythmic patterns and signatures.

Musical scholars are generally in agreement that the arrangement of most Fuji music is often done with a beat signature close to the 4/4, 6/8


Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the creator of Afrobeat, was a social and political activist. He expressed his activism through music, and the activism theme characterizes Afrobeat to date.

Storytelling Egoism (egotism) Praise singing - Often singing the praises of the elite and super-rich Morality


Dark and sharp timbre is common in the Afrobeat genre. Rounded tonality, though rare, can be found in recent recordings.

Most Apala music will often present with a polyphonic, coarse and sharp timbre.

Cultural Influences

Afrobeat was shaped by the activism culture that was prevalent in Kalakuta Republic - a nomenclature Fela used to describe the geographical boundaries that enclosed his shrine in Ikeja, Lagos. Afrobeat was also shaped by the contemporary Yoruba and urban Lagos lifestyles. Beyond the music, Afrobeat is a movement.

The predominant cultural influence on this genre is the Yoruba folklore In addition, Yoruba proverbs and Yoruba Spirituality also have a significant influence on this genre