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Afrobeat In Hip-Hop: The Influence On The Influential

We explore the use of Afrobeat samples in Hip-Hop, looking at artist from Fela Kuti to Manu Dibango.


Hip-hop is well known for providing new perspectives to old classics. We often acknowledge the presence of funk and soul in hip-hop, but what impact does afrobeat have on the innovative sound? Click on the links below to hear a few hip-hop hits that sampled some of afrobeat's most legendary grooves from the likes of Fela Kuti and Manu Dibango.

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J. Cole- "Let Nas Down" (2013)

"Let Nas Down" is a song from J. Cole's newest album Born Sinner that takes after the Fela Kuti & The Afrika 70 track titled, “Gentleman.” The Fela Kuti influence on this track is heavily felt, but doesn’t yet boast enough evidence to be officially labeled as a sample. Did J. Cole use a direct rip from Fela Kuti & Afrika 70’s track? Take a listen and let us know what you think.

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The Roots- "I Will Not Apologize" (2008)

"I Will Not Apologize" samples Fela Kuti’s “Mr Grammarticalogylisationalism Is the Boss.” Fela's raw bassline assists The Legendary Roots Crew in just the right way, adding the perfect flavor to complete the track.

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"Don’t Stop The Music"- Rihanna (2007)

Many believe that this hit was influenced by Michael Jackson’s 1982 classic, "Wanna Be Startin Somethin." However, the catchy 'Mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa' was originally in Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango’s song, ‘Soul Makossa.’

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Nas ft. Alicia Keys- "Warrior Song" (2002)

Once again, Fela Kuti’s presence is felt in this inspirational song that uses some rhythms from his 1972 track titled "Na Poi."

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Missy Elliot ft. Timbaland- "Whatcha Gon’ Do" (2001)

Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 provided the creative spark for "Whatcha Gon Do" off of Missy Elliot’s 2001 album, Miss E …So Addictive. This song samples Fela & Afrika 70’s classic, "Colonial Mentality."

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