In DepthThe QuestionHas Nigerian Afrobeats overtaken Congolese rumba?


Posted on Friday, 09 August 2013 10:53

Has Nigerian Afrobeats overtaken Congolese rumba?

By The Africa Report

For years Congolese rumba was a continental favourite, but now West African tunes are getting young people dancing from Nairobi to Abidjan.


Yes I think the latest Afrobeats music is more urbanised. It is what is trending at the moment and is aimed at a younger generation, and they are the future. When trends are carried by younger people, it automatically becomes much more popular in the future. That is not to say that Congolese music and other genres have died, but they are not as popular as before.

For those that have listened to Afrobeats for a very long time, they will know that the modern music we have today stems from some of those Congolese sounds.

But musicians like Wizkid, D'banj, Sarkodie and the latest Azonto artists, they are the ones that are trending. They are what is popular, and they are the ones that are making money and getting people through doors and paying money for the clubs and concerts.

Congolese music has become more classic, when you do hear it it makes you reminisce. But classic music doesn't sell at the same rate as the new sounds.

It's always what is trending that sells. You can do a dance [a party or club night] with classic African music, but you can't do it as frequently as you would with modern music. It has to be more of a one-off. ●

 DJ Harm Kay, Radio and Club DJ, London, United Kingdom



No I think Nigerian beats has its own audience, but for me Congolese music is more African. Nigerian beats has a lot of American and Western influence. If you listen to Congolese music from the days of Le Grand Kalle (Kabasele Tshamala) I think the music there has more of a Cuban sound and so that makes it more unique.

I would not say that Nigerian music is taking over from the monopoly of Congolese music. Nigerian music is more about the club bangers – party music – but Congolese music is the original African rumba. It will be listened to by people who want to listen to it, whereas the current Nigerian beats is more something you would just come across. I doubt their audiences are equal in proportion. I highly doubt that. I think Congolese music is definitely the sound of the continent.

From generation to generation there is some change because the music that was played by Franco is a bit a different to the music that was played by Kabasele and the musicians of today, such as Koffi Olomide and Ferre Gola. They still play what Franco played but with a modification to fuse it with the modern market. So it's like an improvement of what Franco played in his time, but it is still very vibrant among its audience. When you mention African music, I think people will think about Congolese music. ●

Tom Bwana, Music critic, Nairobi, Kenya

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