Is Hip Hop Dead? How Afrobeats May Become the World’s Biggest Music Genre By 2024

Afrobeats emerges as the quiet contender, poised to claim the spotlight as the next big thing in music.

In music nothing is ever stagnant. Toupee wearing Crooners dominated the early 20th century only to be supplanted by long haired Rockstars just a few decades later.

Entering the 21st century, the rise of Hip Hop has firmly taken Rock & Roll’s crown. But it appears a new genre is quietly but steadily making its way to the forefront, ready to claim its spot as the next big thing. Enter Afrobeats.

It felt like in 2022, Burna Boy’s song “Last Last” was inescapable. Like many Afrobeats songs, its infectious rhythm and vibrant melody garnered attention far beyond its local African roots.

Alongside artists like Wizkid, Tems and Tiwa Savage leading the charge, the genre is making waves on a global scale. Afrobeats’ fusion of traditional African influences with contemporary sounds has captured the imaginations of listeners, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries.

But what sets Afrobeats apart and makes it a strong contender for the top spot? Firstly, its innate ability to make people move.

The genre’s infectious beats and energetic grooves create an irresistible urge to dance. Whether it’s the hypnotic sway of Afroswing or the pulsating rhythms of Afro-house, Afrobeats has a magnetic pull transcending language.

Tems Live afrobeats
Artist, Tems. Photo credit: Burak Cingi / Getty

Fitting the worldwide cultural zeitgeist of embracing one’s roots, Afrobeats encompasses the spirit of Pan-African culture, celebrating diversity, resilience, and the power of unity.

The genre has the ability to inspire and uplift listeners, connecting them to rich cultural heritage.

Additionally, Afrobeats has thrived in the digital age. As we’ve seen with the juggernaut that is K-Pop, the rise of streaming platforms and social media has led to global parity and a lessening dominance of American-centric music.

African artists are finding it easier than ever to connect with fans worldwide. The accessibility of the genre has enabled it to reach new audiences, spreading its influence globally.

Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy
Burna Boy and Ed Sheeran. Photo credit: Zakary Walters

Moreover, collaborations with international superstars are becoming increasingly common, further expanding Afrobeats’ reach. In 2016, Drake generously granted his famous stimulus package feature with the hit song “One Dance” to WizKid — just the first of many Afrobeats bangers setting a trend for others to follow.

Now we see artists like Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Major Lazer joining forces with Afrobeats artists, bringing their immense popularity and fan base to the genre. These collaborations not only introduce Afrobeats to new listeners but also validate its significance in the music industry.

Pop Smoke, XXXTentacion and Juice WRLD

Lastly, many perceive that Hip Hop as a movement has stagnated during the post-2018 SoundCloud era and harbours an increasingly nihilistic perspective.

Artists who were destined to be the superstars of today; Pop Smoke, Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion passing before their 22nd birthday due to drugs and violence, only further kneecapped the genre’s development.

Afrobeats may potentially be the antidote, offering a positive alternative with a style and aesthetic that many Hip Hop listeners appeal to.

While Afrobeats still has room to grow, the ingredients for global domination are all there. Its infectious rhythms, vibrant energy, and cultural relevance are a winning combo.

As more artists embrace Afrobeats and more listeners fall under its spell, the genre’s rise to the top seems almost inevitable.