DJ Jimmy Jatt: Afrobeats is a ‘limiting’ name for Nigerian music

Nigerian DJ has spoken against the term ‘afrobeats’ as description of contemporary Nigerian music.

DJ Jimmy Jatt doesn't like the term 'afrobeats'. Photo: Facebook
DJ Jimmy Jatt doesn't like the term 'afrobeats'. Photo: Facebook

“Inasmuch as we recognise that there is recognition for our music as afrobeat," says the DJ in an interview also featuring producer Don Jazzy and rapper Dr Sid, "I still think that really sometimes lumping everyone into one limiting when we start to generalise our music under afrobeat.

"Under this afrobeat...rappers are there, R&B artists are there. And they are all classified as afrobeat. If I am playing hiphop it should be hiphop music by a Nigerian artist. And if it is R&B, it should be R&B by a Nigerian artist. For us not to be limited in the universal space.

"So that my music can be nominated under the R&B category in any part of the world. Unlike saying, ‘this is afrobeat and anything that comes from Nigeria is afrobeat.’"

He adds: “There are reggae artists here [Don Jazzy offers Patoranking as example] and they still call it afrobeat. These are reggae artists that could be onstage in Jamaica. So why are they being restricted?” 

It is worth noting that ‘afrobeats’ as a term is used mostly by the western press and not by the local media. The name is thought too close to afrobeat, the genre created by the late musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti. And as such 'afropop' or 'Naija/Nigerian pop' is used instead—as distinct from Fela’s afrobeat sound. “We don’t sound like that,” says Dr Sid.

The interview, done with Guardian UK and Boiler Room, goes on to discuss the impact of the Billboard topping ‘One Dance’ by Wizkid, Drake, and Kyla. “I think it is getting to the point where people are now appreciating the fact that they need to collaborate with artists from here as well,” says Jimmy Jatt. “As against before when it was some desperate move from artists from here trying to collaborate with whoever. And I am not saying A-list…You know, some artists that have not made music in forever.”

Don Jazzy talks about the American artists who have contacted him but “chickened out”. Perhaps because they are not yet ready for the African sound, they ask that he tweaks the sound to something western. “I can give you your sound,” says Don Jazzy. “But then I would now be no different from a Timbaland or Pharrell.”



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