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7 Crossover Moments That Highlight Africa's Influence on Pop Culture In 2018

African music, dance and fashion continues to influence global pop culture, and these seven examples prove it.

Africa's impact on global pop culture was undeniable in 2018.

On several occasions, many of the biggest stars in the wold incorporated elements of youth culture from across the continent into their sound, music videos and performances, further highlighting the value of the continent's cultural exports.

Everyone from Beyoncé to Diddy to Janet Jackson drew inspiration from the culture as part of their artistry—a testament to its growing international visibility.

Below are seven unforgettable moments that we covered in 2018 when African aesthetics, music, fashion dance and more crossed over into popular culture by way of some of biggest names in the industry.


Rihanna Hits the Gwara Gwara at the Grammys

Rihanna set the internet on fire this February when she hit the gwara gwara effortlessly during a performance of "Wild Thoughts" at this year's Grammys, bringing the popular South African dance to the big stage. The reactions to the megastar's performance were just as priceless as seeing her break it down on stage.

Beyoncé Pays Homage to Fela Kuti at 'Beychella'


Beyoncé, who's expressed her admiration for Fela Kuti on several occasions through her work, brought the Nigerian legend's 1976 classic "Zombie" to her historic headlining set at Coachella when she had her band perform a horn-filled rendition of the song during her unforgettable 2-hour set. It was one of the many highlights of her internet-breaking performance.

Janet Jackson Does the Akwaaba at Billboard Music Awards

Janet Jackson gave a nod to afrobeats dance back in May when she hit the Akwaaba, popularized by Nigerian artist Mr Eazi, during her Billboard Icon Award performance in May.

Janet Jackson's "Made For Now"

Ms. Jackson also looked to aforbeats for inspiration for her single "Made for Now," featuring Daddy Yankee, which dropped back in August. While the song itself was met with mixed reviews, the African influence on the both the track and music video was undeniable. The video featured a number of African dancers who did moves like the shoki and was choreographed by Senegalese instructor Omari Mizrahi. The singer also sported several colorful looks by Cameroonian designer Claude Lavie Kameni.

Beyoncé and Jay Z Channel 'Touki Bouki' for On The Run II

Beyoncé and Jay-Z drew inspiration from the classic 1973 film Touki Bouki by legendary Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty for a promo poster for that announced their On the Run II tour. The star couple recreated a famous scene in which the two protagonists ride a motorcycle embellished with a bull skull, and drew on the Wolof-language film's premise of love, adventure and escapism.

Ciara Heads to South Africa for "Freak Me'

Ciara made some noise online this summer when clips of her dancing to her Tekno-assisted single "Freak Me" in Soweto were shared online. In them the singer can be seen doing the gwara gwara in a dance sequence choreographed by thee renowned Sinovuyo Dunywa, she also rocked a look from the South African fashion brand Rich Mnisi, also recently seen on Beyoncé during her recent trip to the country for Global Citizen.

Diddy Continues to Obsess over Fela Kuti

It's no secret that many black artists are inspired by Fela Kuti's mission and sound, but Diddy took his love of the artist to another level in 2018. The music mogul, was spotted on several occasions jamming out to various Fela songs like "Let's Start" on his Instagram, and getting fly with Naomi Campbell while Fela's music plays in the background. He even included the late musician in his Black 100 list of individuals across a number of fields who've shaped black culture. Music critic Joey Akan, writes about Diddy's love for Fela and why his image continues to resonate with many influential black artists.


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Listen to WurlD's New 'Love Is Contagious' EP

A sound that connects to the quintessential Afropolitan mind.

Nigerian-American singer WurlD drops his new 9-song EP, Love Is Contagious.

The new release, which is led by popular singles like "Show You Off" featuring Walshy Fire & Shizzi and "Contagious," sees the blue-haired WurlD blending elements of Nigerian juju music with pop and R&B;, making for a captivating and energetic fusion.

"Love is Contagious is a conversation about love, from the infatuation stage to drowning in the emotion to the commitment stage," mentions WurlD. "This EP is something everyone can relate to at some point in their lives. It has always been my goal to add a different range to the conversation and Love is Contagious does that, taking my fans and family on the journey a man goes through finding himself in love."

WurlD's creates "a sound that connects to the quintessential Afropolitan mind," wrote our contributor Joey Akan in an exclusive interview piece with the Lagos-born singer.

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Social Media Is Doodling On Pictures of Burundi's President In Support of Arrested Schoolgirls

Folks online are using the hashtag #FreeOurGirls to remind Burundi's president that scribbling is not a crime.

Last week, three Burundian schoolgirls were taken into custody after doodling on a picture of President Pierre Nkurunziza in their textbooks. The girls, all under the age of 18, face up to five years in prison for the act.

Now folks on social media are rallying behind the girls, using the hashtag #FreeOurGirls. People are not only voicing their unwavering support for the young girls against the heavy hand of the president, they're also using it as an opportunity to share pictures of the president with their own doodles.

In true elementary form, some images show the president with playfully drawn-on mustaches, hats and hair. One of the more creative doodles shows the president with a curled mustached and a short blue wig on.

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Nasty C. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

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Nasty C says the songs on the EP he's working on with No I.D. "will sound so close to home, it will feel like they should be our gospel songs."

By now you should know Nasty C is working on some music with No I.D.. Ever since images of the South African rapper and producer in studio with No I.D. and Big Sean hit the internet about a month ago, we've all been kept guessing.

However, Nasty recently shared some new details about the project. While talking to Slikour in an interview that was published on Slikour On Life, the Durban rapper shared what the response to his sophomore album Strings and Bling (2018) meant to him.

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