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Wizkid at Gidi Fest 2018. Photo: Tej/Gidi Culture Festival.

Call Us by Our Name: Stop Using "Afrobeats"

Op-Ed: To retain ownership of our culture we must insist on labelling popular African music correctly

To name something is to claim ownership. And with the Western music industry's long tradition of appropriation, ownership of Africa's latest export is something Africans on the continent cannot risk losing.

Currently, "Afrobeats" is used as a catch-all term for all popular music emerging from the African continent. The "Rise of Afrobeats" as numerous publications have coined the movement, has been marked by high profile features beginning with Wizkid on "One Dance," followed by a flurry of big record label signings stateside and more recently, interest from streaming giant Spotify, in the form of its recently announced Afro Hub section.

At last summer's BET Awards, Davido took to the stage to receive an award for Best International Act, beating out U.K. artists Stormzy and J Hus. After years of boycotting by past African winners, who were subjected to receiving BET awards backstage and in one instance even sharing an award, Davido's televised acceptance speech served as confirmation that African pop music was here to stay. But as the infectious music and vibrant artists behind it continue to gain global visibility, it is critical that Africans on the continent take the reins in steering its narrative. This begins by abandoning the "Afrobeats" label and appropriately naming the vastly different musical genres it refers to.

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