Forget the lyrics, dance moves, the driving force behind African music


Bongo sensation artist Diamond Platnumz rocks the stage in Mombasa during the Wasafi Festival concert in Mombasa. [Joackim Bwana, Standard]

Barely a year since it was released, the Diamond Platnumz music video Waah, with Congolese singer Koffi Olomide, has reached 70 million views on YouTube.

It’s one of the greatest songs and has enjoyed massive airplay. His cross-border eastern and western rhumba rhythm is perfect. It gave the song a uniqueness that attracted fans beyond Africa.

And even if the two cross-generational music heavyweights owe their lyrical skills, the well-choreographed dance moves make this song a hit.

The two have mastered the magic of dance in their art. They captivate your heart, mind and soul.

They set the pace for other artists from across the continent who are now making great efforts to curate the dances in their music.

And since fans join musicians to create dance challenges to make their songs go viral, it’s difficult for artists to market music that doesn’t have a unique dance.

This trend has led to local dance stars like TikTok sensation Azziad Nasenya, who went viral after her Utawezana Dance challenge.

From bongo in East Africa to Afrobeats in West Africa to South Africa, where the Amapiano craze prevailed, dance has become the new force driving African music in the world.

Koffi Olomide in action at the Koroga Festival in the Nairobi Arboretum on March 14, 2016. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

South Africa is the home of dance music. Here is the Master KG Jerusalema Dance Challenge was born and also Africa’s most hyped music-dance genre, Amapiano.

New African beat

Busiswa Gqulu, one of the richest Amapiano crusaders, was in Black is king Beyoncé’s film. Former US President Barack Obama also recorded the Amapiano track Wrong on his end-of-year playlist.

These are just a few of the great people who helped popularize the new African beat.

From Sho Madjozi in South Africa, who inspires with their culturally influenced dance movements, to Yemi Alade, who uses African costumes in her new Afrobeats Dancina Africa is not holding back video.

DJ dance mixes have fueled the trend.

“Amapiano, a form of electronic dance music, dominates the playlists of DJs around the world.

“The dance beat has become very popular in Kenya, and it will surely be the beat to watch,” says Kenyan DJ Crème de la Crème.

On the flip side, Afrobeats, a danceable genre that takes in various influences from electrical combinations of local genres like azonto and dancehall, has struck like a mistake.

Since last year it has been one of the world’s music trends, on which big stars like Beyoncé, Drake, Wizkid and Burna Boy ride.

A fusion of high life and hip hop; Afrobeats sub-genres such as Hiplife, Jùjú music and Naija beats dominate playlists around the world with their melodies.

Afrobeats star Burna Boy. [Courtesy]

Ghana, the home of the heavily electrified Afrobeat, which arose before the Nigerian Afrobeat, has made viral dances like shaku shaku, kupe, pilolo, agbelemi and shy Dance styles.

It’s a street madness that has taken Accra by storm.

Other African dance routines that have attracted worldwide attention are the wakanda dance, which was inspired by sakordie azonto, gwara gwara, idibala malwedhe and dombol.

“Dance has always been an important part of African music and the new dance craze, which confirms this. We train many artists to integrate dance into their music. We have also seen that more and more young people have made dancing for a living, ”says Edu Ooro, dancer trainer and choreographer with the Sarakasi Trust.

He adds, “It is very difficult for a music video to sell if the dance and choreography bit is not applied, especially at a time when music videos are popularized by dance challenges.”

Edu notes that musicians are now investing more and more money in dance and choreography when starting a music project.

Most of the dance groups featured in local videos are from the Sarakasi Trust, a center for culture and performing arts.

Aggie, the dance queen, says dance challenges such as those popularized by social media platforms have increased the demand for creative dance videos.

She says that young people love dance challenges, which is what makes the songs popular.

“You saw all of them, like all of them Jerusalema Dance challenge and became an international hit. This tells you why musicians incorporate unique dance moves into their songs. If you want your song to become popular, invest in good dancers, ”says the dancer and choreographer, best known for her performance in Sauti Sols Short N Sweet Video.

Governor Ann Waiguru joins the Kirinyaga County Choir for the Jerusalema Dance Challenge during Mashujaa Day celebrations at Kerugoya Stadium on October 20, 2020. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Aggie is credited with popularizing Kenyans odi Dance style that put her in the spotlight.

It was a season that saw the rebirth of dance styles across the region, including those made in Nairobi Kanyaga Lami and Diamond Platnumz’s kwangwaru crazy.

Dance has always played an important cultural role in African societies. Whether at a funeral or wedding ceremony, birthday or circumcision event, political or religious rallies, Africa has always offered a song and dance for every occasion.

It is also a pastime used to strengthen unity and create humor and happiness.

“When you talk about African music, you can’t separate it from dance. From old genres like soukous to our Kenyan benga, our music has always been about rhythm. Africa has some of the oldest dance traditions in the world. In fact, Africa is the home of dance, ”says experienced Benga star Ken wa Maria.

But it’s the new generation that is taking dance to a whole new level thanks to social media platforms like TikTok, where dance challenges are common.


About Sonia Martinez

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