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Is Afrobeats ready for a Fuji or Apala album?

There's a growing resurgence in the influence of Nigerian indigenous music in the mainstream.

Is Afrobeats ready for a Fuji or Apala album?

While the growing exploration of Nigerian indigenous music isn't new in the mainstream, as traditional genres have consistently influenced Nigerian Pop and Hip Hop, its utility seems to be at an all-time high, especially as the soundscape seems to need new sonic direction.

The commercial success of songs that richly explore Fuji or Apala suggests a wide acceptance from listeners keenly awaiting the successor of Amapiano in the Nigerian mainstream. Currently, Fuji and Apala music are strongly positioned for that due to their familiarity and appeal.

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Asake recently teased a Fuji song at his concert in Canada and the teaser has since gone viral on Tik Tok. Similarly, Seyi Vibez scored what might be his biggest hit yet with the Apala and Highlife-influenced record Different Pattern while Kizz Daniel's smash hit Twe Twe infuses Nigerian folk drums and melodies.

On his latest single Rodo, Adekunle Gold recently sampled famous lines from Musiliu Haruna Ishola's classic Apala album Soyoyo. DJ Tunez and Terry Apala also delivered a rich Apala exploration on their hit collaboration Apala Disco while emerging star First Klass is showcasing the compelling influence of Fuji music through his single, Gen Z Fuji.

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When you look at the data, traditional genres are enjoying a commercial resurgence on streaming platforms. According to Spotify, there has been a rise in the consumption of indigenous genres with Fuji seeing a 187% increase and Highlife soaring by 224% in the past year.

Getting the attention of young listeners drives the commerciality of Pop music, and Fuji has attracted a group of attentive Gen Z listeners. According to Spotify data, users aged 18 to 24 make up 32% of Fuji listeners and 31% of Highlife listeners.

The biggest and most viral Fuji songs in the Nigerian mainstream so far have been records from traditional Fuji artists such as Wasiu Ayinde's Ade Ori Okin, Sule Alao Malaika's Oshe Oloun O Boju Mi Je, and Adewale Ayuba's Koloba Koloba which is the most popular Fuji mainstream song yet.

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However, with Nigerian Pop stars like Asake, Seyi Vibez, Teni, Terry Apala, and Adekunle Gold embracing Fuji and Apala music, a new dawn for the genre and its influence in the mainstream may be on the horizon.

A rich exploration of Fuji and Apala music would popularise the genres in the mainstream and further showcase the multiplicity of Nigerian music.

The growing influence of Fuji and Apala music in the Nigerian mainstream is also replicated down South where the groovy percussion and shakers of Ogene music are making a strong comeback. Zlatan, Blaqbonez, Falz, Perruzi, and Spyro are some of the stars who have made Ogene music in the Nigerian mainstream in the past six months.

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Amidst Afrobeats' global ascension, it's necessary to consider if a contemporary take on traditional genres like Fuji and Apala will carry the necessary appeal to sustain this international patronage.

The international success of Asake and Seyi Vibez who significantly deploy Yoruba in their Amapiano exploration suggests that contemporary Fuji music can enjoy similar success as its sonic appeal trumps the language barrier.

While it might be challenging for some artists to conceptualise a Fuji or Apala project, especially for those whose music simply follows the tide of Nigerian mainstream music, artists such as Flavour and Adekunle Gold are shining examples of how traditional genres can be brilliantly approached for mainstream consumption.

Ultimately, for artists who are heavily influenced by traditional genres, making a Fuji or Apala album can be considered an embracement of who they are at the core of their talents because these are artists who would have towed the paths of Wasiu Ayinde and Musiliu Haruna Ishola if Afrobeats didn't offer a different path.

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