Many around the world have over the past recent years adopted the name “Afrobeats” as Nigerian type of music. This is because of the influence of the Legendary Fela Kuti influence on the export of Nigerian Music. This general assumption is however wrong because the sound that is made by contemporary Nigerian musician is drawn from different origins. Some of these origins include home grown sounds from the southern part of Nigeria and some imported sounds from other African countries. In the western part of Nigeria, there are three major home grown sound which includes Afrobeats, Afro Juju and Fuji and Yoruba Highlife. These above listed sound can be attributed to Fela Kuti, Sir Sina Peters (father of music video director: Clarence Peters) and Sir Ebenzer Obey. the invasion of Nigerian music scene by American Hiphop culture and production styles; Nigerian producers have tried to fuse these local beats with a blend of electronic instrument thus creating sweet Afropop sound compositions. Legendury Beatz as a production duo of two brothers who are of Delta State origins are perfect example of producers who make Afropop sound dominated by Afrobeats and Contemporary Yoruba Highlife sound.
Legendury beatz who came into huge recognition with their great works with Afropop star sensation Wizkid are worthy of recognition with their mad creativity and originality with Yoruba Highlife. When “Ojuwelgba” was released to the world by Wizkid’s StarBoy records in 2014; it could be argued to heaven that Uzezi and his brother Okiemute were too good with Afrobeats but with their new production which tend to explore the prowess in Yoruba Highlife is giving me some new perspective to their production style. Listening to Ayo from the recently released album coming from Nigerian Female Afropop shining Star Simi made me love Highlife music all over again.
Highlife music is a sound which have some basic elements which makes it different from other sounds. A basic Highlife beat is dominated basically by three guitars (Lead tenor, Supporting lead and Bass) all played in a relatively slow with danceable percussion line made up of a drum kit, congas and in occasions trumpets. This sound is dominated by the increase in the volume of the lead tenor guitar because of the liberty of soloing that is granted the instrument. However, there is a slight distinction in the type of Highlife beat made by the Igbos and Yorubas of Southern Nigerian. While the Igbo beat is dominated by local triplicate conga drums it also includes a Gung (Ogene), wood and masquerade shakers in their percussion line; the Yorubas include the ever vibrant sound of talking drums in their sound-eliminating congas from the sound while backed up by shekere.
“Ayo” as a composition of contemporary Highlife sound is a super Afropop sound which displays Legendary Beats attention to Highlife music details. The intro of the sound which starts with a sweet Lead which follows same pattern from start to finish is backed up by a wonderful solo guitar. The percussion has this easy going tempo with an interplay of different sizes of talking drum with the drum kit limited to providing only a kick and hat sound to the beat. This beats could bring “Ayo” (Joy) to any Yoruba party having different ages of people dancing away because of the Trans-generational feel it has to it.
Working with Simisola and her record label; Legendary beats created a real Afropop sound which has a reduced influence of America pop culture and Nigerian Afrobeat sound. They made a proper Yoruba sound which existed in the 1970s and 80s when music production was done in Analog format. The only difference with the sound made by them is the superiority in engineering. The sounds are clearer because of the modern noise canceling plugins and mastering software. However one cannot help but appreciate the vocals of Simi but even more the production of prowess of The Legendary beats. They are staying close to the roots and Mutay is championing a wonderful movement.