How Afrobeats has become an unstoppable musical force, a vehicle for artists who are bringing the music of the Afrobeat universe to our ears.
The first Afrobeats album I ever heard was ‘Mama Africa’, produced by George Benson and produced by Tony Brown. It was the first album I knew the album name ‘Mama Africa’ – but ‘Mama Africa’ is not ‘Afrobeats’ – no matter how many people have been singing the same stuff now. It was in 1993 and in that year, I became introduced to the whole world with what I thought was a strange name and the whole world went crazy for it because of its unique music and beautiful message. But it was, of course, in the 1980s, at the time when the music was a new sound and people did not appreciate it at that time. The music scene was very narrow, people were not taking the same music seriously, some were even not really listening to the music. It was the time of ‘Bongo Man’ – a huge, white, and bloated star who was a hero of the black world, but this was the dark ages in the music scene and black people and us were not ready for his huge success.
But then came ‘Mama Africa’, a little album that changed everything, I knew it was a great album immediately. The title says it all; Mama Africa is the mother. A black mother, she is full of love and wisdom in her wisdom, she is the queen because she is beautiful, as beautiful as a woman should be. Her music is in another dimension, it’s not just music, she is singing the history of this country, she is bringing the history of this beautiful continent to life with her music. And every song that she sings is a piece of the history. And so, everything after this album is coming from me and my experience. But I was still a young record producer.
But after I heard ‘Mama Africa’, I knew that this young man had come up with something special. I remember the first time I met him, I was sitting in the lobby of a music store and I saw him at a conference, he was sitting down and I approached him and said, ‘Hey boy, your album is a great success; when will you do another one?’ and he said ‘No one is paying