“art is what we use to occupy space, music is what we use to occupy time – Jean Micheal Basquiat.”
Maybe as Africans, coming from a third world nation with the economic state of the nation giving the mind of every African growing up, we are special with out music, Africans have always surrounded their time with music, it’s profound to us and watching this new generation explore it as we’re exploring all other mediums is truly fantastic. There’s so much to be done but we’ve begun and that’s truly great. It’s been a long time coming, getting here, getting a standard form of our music to the state of freeing it from its cage, allowing our creativity to soar through our voice and beats, expressing more than we’ve ever done and being accepted for our unique stance of music from a global view. To get our music here, being born in a generation truly representing that is invigorating.
After my first series, explaining what this new age form of music is, outlining why it should be celebrated and protected, I felt stuck on what to saw next. I wanted to see what the new age was saying, because it’s clear they know they’re kicking ass and nothing is stopping their growth. Then it came to me in sequences, pieces of a thought long stored in me just waiting for me to understand well enough.
It was the simple fact of unity!
Africa isn’t like other continents, Africa is one. We might have our different languages, different forms, different states and forms, I feel we’re still one. We’re closer together than we can ever understand. There’s a general idea that passes through us, there’s a unique spark and hustle in us. We’ve been through the pain and still we exist, fragile but strong. The beauty of Africa comes into full light when we’re one.
Cut into segments by our colonizers, broken into barriers, there’s an essence alive when we’re untied to grow in a medium. We will have our differences but that will over powered by our understanding, others have sent this, why shouldn’t we. An African voice powered through our music is the next phase.
Africa has been a hub of culture since we gained our growing yet timid voice and place in the world. We’ve absorbed sounds, fused them with our own voice and given back to each musical culture brought within our surrounding. Yet, we’ve never come together to showcase our own sounds. Not in terms of following the traditional sounds of our history but taking this new age of Africa and bringing together what we listen and create sonically as one to channel our voice globally.
We’ve seen an example of this merge. It came from the creation of “Afrobeat” by Fela. He truly understood and fought for the cause of uniting Africa as one voice and mind, he also found a way of bringing this together in his music by channelling the drums and various percussion of sounds from different channels of Africa as well as fusing the orderly orchestration of his music which he learnt from his exposure outside the country, by doing this he was able to create something truly unique and African, he gave us a voice we could understand and be proud of no matter what variation of African we were, from the east to west, this was a sound understood by us incorporating pidgin a sort of universal English for most African into his music to give it an understandable value to every listener, this fusion is something I also noticed in Odunsi‘s music, an artist from Nigeria who calls his sound Afrofusion, I was able to talk to him in an interview and he explained the idea of bringing forth this understanding of afrobeats into the new age. With this I understood it, the unity of bringing different qualities of Africa into his music has given him an edge already. We can hear influences of both Ghanaian (which he has connected with in terms of their sound) and Nigerian flavours, we’ve seen this also in the sound of Mr. Eazi who’s music channels between Ghana and Nigeria, and these are skit examples of fusing two sides of Africa together, now the big picture will be doing this on a more global scale.
The idea is to mix what we have to create truly new colors. By understanding the music to the core of it being boarder-less, our sounds can have its own identity one that references Africa as a whole. For years we’ve been put in our medium of Afrobeat, a sound we were able to create and accept, now using this formula in the new age can only bring forth more growth in our music. Taking in the culture of sounds we hear from all over the world, refining them in our own New Age music and unity to re-create a unique identity for ourselves. This could be the first step in bringing a unified Africa, one that understands itself and the people, a sound that shows our beauty and pain together.
There’s never been a true fence that separated the people of this continent, we’ve always found a way to channel the uniqueness of our black skin, a value that has brought us together in an even more revolutionary way in the Internet age. We’ve seen the mix of African artist from different parts of Africa come together to share sounds and creative ideas. We’ve seen platforms like Harmattan Rain share ideas with neighboring African countries, sharing music and creating a fusion between the sounds of the new age. There’s something magical about it, something that isn’t noticed when we bring it all as one.
There should be growth in sustaining the new age and create a United sound with the different variables and sub-cultures we have in Africa we can create a true form for our music.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re charting a direction with our sound. Afrobeats also has opened in a new doorway and exposure upon us so it’s time to capitalize on this and grow from it by coming together and uniting our voice as we echo our minds to the world. There’s a spark that comes with fusion, Afrofusion might be one way Odunsi has seen to create his own voice, but what other way, there’s sounds being created organically like the sounds of the music company Euphonic from Nigeria or other sounds I’ve heard from across the spectrum it’s a new identity being created by the freedom they’ve created themselves to express more, now let’s share these ideas together. The diversity is still African at its core. We should master our oneness to bridge the gaps of each other’s flaws.
Forging a diversified but United sound which comes from pouring the different rhythms and flavours of music from Africa helps not only connect us as people but chart more confident course for the music industry. It gives way for acceptance and recognition of new sounds and genres created by trying new and more inspiring forms with the music , it helps us spread more than one version and perception of our sound to the world as we’re not limited into one box and all called “Afro artists” we can merge and direct our sound into whatever we want to call it, it’s the freedom of being African without restriction, without so much ethnicity and religion playing the front role into what you can or cannot create, you simple tap into the potential of infinite history and context provided by Africa using that as an inspiration.
With our voice together, still allowing room for our differences we can connect to the world united, we can be Identified more smoothly.