Humbled by the exponential growth in his musical career, Ivorian-British artist, DJ, and producer ‘Afro B’ has positioned himself as the “gatekeeper of Afrobeats music”, bringing a wave to the youth and the world at large. Dominating the airwaves with his captivating hit “Drogba (Joanna)”, he has re-imagined the entry point of Afrobeats music.
“It’s always a dream for an artist to be respected globally or have people overseas, outside of where you’re from, appreciate your music,” he states. “I feel like within Afrobeats, no one cares about the lyrics, maybe I’m wrong, it’s more about how it’s making you feel.”
Initially when creating “Drogba”, the Afrobeats star did not anticipate that the song would be a global hit. The tune began to receive a lot of love after he previewed a snippet on his Instagram.
“I actually made that song very quick, 15-20 mins. It started off a bit dark but I was like you know what, let’s make it happy, a happy vibe,” Afro B states.
Before naming Ivorian soccer player Didier Drogba on the tune, Afro B originally named Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. However, he changed it to Drogba as a way to remind the world of his Ivorian background.
“The way I make music, I put the melodies down before the lyrics, I was saying the name ‘Joanna’ and mumbling the ‘busy body’, so I just added the lyrics after,” he adds.
Back in May when Mr. Eazi brought him out at Wizkid’s Afro-Republik, the rising star witnessed the impact his song was having on the world, as “Joanna shut down the place” Afro B exclaims. The following week, he joined Afrobeats artist Skales on stage at One Africa Fest London, where notable guests like Wizkid and Tiwa Savage grooved to the track.
From Colombian streets to the Panamanian Coast, Afro B’s sound keeps the world dancing. Paving his own path, he has authentically crafted an artist identity for himself by staying true to his cultural foundation.
“I have always been looking at ways to make me different from the rest. The industry is dominated by Nigerians and Ghanaians, so I was thinking ‘no one is really promoting Ivorians and the French speakers’. I always incorporate that in my music and make songs that’s catchy and not too complex,” he states.
Afro B’s inviting personality and warm demeanor plays a pivotal role in his growing global fan base.
“The difference with me and other artists, I’m happy to speak to people. I don’t do no ‘big show boy’, I be chilling, talking and following on Instagram. In a way it’s marketing, keeping them close, so that they are updated with what I am dropping,” he says.
Afro B’s music career began far before his recent debut to the world. His love for music started as a childhood church pianist in London. Inspired by the sounds of musical legends such as Amy Winehouse, Elton John, Bob Marley, Tupac, Biggie, Wizkid, 50 cent, Ja Rule and Vybz Kartel, his love for music fell deeper. Collectively, the legacy of these artists influenced Afro B to pursue a career as a DJ.
“I was a good Afrobeats DJ and I’ve been promoting Africans from the D’banj times, when it wasn’t cool to be African,” he says.
Determined to place Africa in the center of the global music sphere, Afro B did not stop there.
“At the beginning when I was DJing, I was only able to have an Afrobeats set for like five minutes. There were even some events where I would be clearing the dance floor because no one wanted to hear it, they would take me off the DJ booth”, he recalls.
Transitioning from a DJ to an artist does not always come with ease. Paired with a loyal support system, Afro B has become the next best thing in the industry. He credits Team Salut as one of the first individuals to take him seriously when he first vocalized his transition.
“DJing helped my transition too because as a DJ I am meant to play the hits, so I knew how to structure a song or try and make it a hit”, the artist reflects.
As a “rookie” in the industry, Afro B has already superseded his dream expectations of collaborating with Afrobeats superstar Wizkid. The spark of the collaboration came from a simple tweet from Afro B, who complimented Starboy’s bubbling single “Soco”.
“I think the one that hit me the most was One Africa Fest in NY when Wizkid co-signed me to share the same stage. I was there previously, but coming back again on that scale was like ‘oh wow, the levels are rising. For Wizkid to bring me out was just like ‘wow’. This is a person I have been looking up to,” Afro B expresses.
He made his first trip to America in June for Afro Carnival Festival hosted by star Afrobeats DJ and producer, DJ Tunez. After performing for a sold out audience in Tunez’ hometown of New York, Afro B recalls returning to the states over 20 times since, performing with Wizkid and Tunez on various occasions.
“One Africa Fest in NY, that was crazy,” Afro B exclaims. “I didn’t even discuss with Wiz that I would be there, I just made sure that I saw myself there. The impact was crazy, so many people in one place.”
Afro B doesn’t plan on pausing his momentum anytime soon. Reviving the dance craze and taking over the African diaspora, he recently dropped his follow-up Afrowave single and the visuals for “Shaku Shaku”. The tune features frequent collaborators, Team Salut.
In a revolutionary ode to black beauty, Afro B also released his third mainstream single, “Melanin”. The music video shot by Visual Pictures demonstrates an appreciation for women of color whom are often underrepresented and underappreciated.
“I think that artist should promote more dark skin girls in their videos. Artist have control on who’s in their videos and should do more to make dark women seen,” he states. “I’ve made it a point to do that. ‘Drogba’ featured Sherrie Silver, a dark skin woman. The ‘Shaku Shaku’ video also featured a dark skin girl.”
Riding on the wave of back to back hits, Afro B has a promising future in the rapid rise of the Afrobeats industry, as he gears up for an upcoming EP.
“I’m just gonna keep dropping singles and a project titled ‘Afro Wave.’ This EP will present new music to the new fan base I have gained,” says Afro B.
If there is one thing Afro B wants the world to remember is, don’t be afraid to promote the culture to the world, keep shining.