Think of your favorite nightclub. The place you go where the music is always right, no one's holding up the wall, and you dance 'til you sweat. That was the Barclays Center on Friday night (July 22), as the One Africa Music Fest took over Brooklyn.
Make no mistake: Afrobeat music is in the midst of a global takeover. Most of the songs performed by artists Flavour, Davido, Timayo, Diamond Platnumz, Tiwa Savage and Wizkid were barely in English, yet the audience sang along to every word. While people in the crowd were proudly shouting out their African countries of origin, African-Americans like myself were just happy to twerk along. Here are a few things I learned:
1. Tiwa Savage is the African Beyoncé.
Wearing white Tina Turner-esque fringed shorts, Tiwa and her dancers were in formation. I'm not saying the Nigerian singer-songwriter did it first. But I am saying that Beyonce's entire swag since the album 4 is entirely Afrobeat-inspired. More important, Tiwa has signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation, so everyone will hear more of her soon! (Maybe she'll even drop a collab with King Bey.)
2. Jidenna belongs to the world.
As host Banky W said several times, "Jidenna belongs to America. Jidenna belongs to Africa." Ever dapper in his bespoke suit, Jidenna performed some new songs that whet our appetite for the full album. The Brooklyn native proudly infuses his Naija heritage into everything he does, and he danced all over the stage like he was truly at home among his people. Just look at these moves!:
3. Wizkid is the man.
He was the star of the show. Literally, they call him "Star Boy." Wizkid said his band didn't show for his headlining set, but no matter. The audience held him down and did most of the work. He even brought Swizz Beatz out for a run, performing snippets of "On to the Next," "Ruff Ryders' Anthem," and "Party Up." And when he did his part on Drake's "One Dance"? Forget it! The crowd went crazy.
But just like any fun party, it was time to go before we were ready. Barclays actually cut the music on Wizkid, as he was trying to give the crowd just one more song.