From P-Square to Victony, The Evolution Of Foreign Afrobeats Remixes

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Once upon a time, foreign Afrobeats remixes were not only hard to pull off, they were also not easily accessible to those that weren’t among the elite class of Nigerian artists. That was a different season. Now, Nigerian and Afrobeats artists do not need to beg before getting a foreign act on their remixes; these acts are willingly hopping on Afrobeats records and featuring Afrobeats artists on their songs.

Usually when an Afrobeats song starts gaining global traction, the song either goes on to have a bunch of region-targeted remixes—featuring French, Spanish, American or Asian artists—or a major remix that recruits a global superstar, furthering its global appeal. Fireboy’s Ed Sheeran-assisted Peru, Wizkid’s Essence with Justin Bieber, Rema’s Calm Down featuring Selena Gomez, Ayra Starr’s Bloody Samaritan with Kelly Rowland, Victony’s Soweto tapping Don Toliver, and many more are examples of key strategic moments that reflect the evolution of foreign remixes by Afrobeats acts.

In a bid to maximize exposure and profits, artists will embark on what many listeners will describe as a remix run. These remixes have evolved over the years, going from being a transformational work of creativity that helps mold records into their most beautiful versions, to becoming strategies employed to penetrate markets or top charts. Songs get a remix when an artist is trying to get their numbers up, when an artist is trying to capitalize on an increasingly successful record, when an artist is itching to share their rendition of another artists’ record, or when artists want to break into new genres, markets, and scenes.

Remixes have been adopted for both creative and marketing purposes, but at their core they remain reimaginings designed to showcase an artist’s prowess and range in a way that borrows from, compliments, and builds on an original record.

Back in 2012, over 10 years ago, artists like P-Square were at the forefront of the evolution that foreign Afrobeats remixes have seen. Their single Beautiful Onyinye featuring Rick Ross unintentionally ushered in a new wave of Afrobeats remixes with foreign superstars. Songs like Ice Prince’s I Swear with French Montana, D’banj’s Mr Endowed with Snoop Dogg, 2face’s Rainbow with T-Pain, and Ayo Jay’s Your Number with Chris Brown and Kid Ink also serve as vital moments that paint a picture of where the foreign Afrobeats remixes we’re seeing now, came from.

The current era of foreign Afrobeats remixes is being led by new-school artists like Victony, Oxlade, Rema, Fireboy, Lojay, CKay, and Ayra Starr. When you observe these artists and their remix strategies, you begin to notice a pattern; songs like Soweto, Peru, Ku Lo Sa, Calm Down, Monalisa and Bloody Samaritan had already experienced major airplay and were doing impressive numbers on DSPs, both locally and internationally. Going on to tap prominent acts like Don Toliver, Selena Gomez, Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Kelly Rowland and Chris Brown was a way to boost the original record’s appeal and an attempt to replicate its success.

There’s an argument that most of these songs didn’t need a remix to go global, and while it is a valid one, the notion remains ignorant to the fact that most of these remixes outperform the original records on official charts like the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This inadvertently boosts not just the listenership of an artist, but serves as a form of validation, recognition, and discography growth.

For an artist still on the cusp of global domination, an impressive discography is more important than churning out smash hits with every release. Artists like Rema and Victony understand this and that’s why they prioritise improving their sound and collaborating with other artists over releasing a bunch of new music every month. Sharing your record, especially one that is performing impressively, can be both a vulnerable and beautiful moment for an artist. It helps with the growth of your catalog and, more importantly, your artistry.

Taking Victony as a case study, his smash hit single Soweto with Tempoe took off on TikTok and has been gaining massive airplay ever since. Soweto is a fantastic record that if not remixed properly would have done more harm to his discography than good. With how big Soweto had gotten, the ball was in Victony’s court and there were so many directions he could have taken a Soweto remix in. Choosing to tap both Rema and Don Toliver on one remix was a carefully calibrated decision. Don Toliver, a big name in the US, and Rema, one of the most streamed Nigerian artists right now, coming together on a record that was already a fan favorite virtually had no way of going wrong.

From everyone going crazy over foreign Afrobeats remixes in the early 2010s, to them slowly becoming a staple for the younger generation of Nigerian artists, the music industry is taking a new shape. Nigerian and Afrobeats songs are gaining never before seen global traction and as more people continue to discover and fall in love with the sound, foreign remixes are going to keep coming out and might even triple in intensity.