For DJ and producer Afro B, the pandemic was a time to capitalize on the momentum. Heading into the worldwide shutdown, the forefather of Afrobeats and Afrowave genres has one of the biggest singles on the planet in “Drogba (Joanna).”
With much of the world freed from lockdown, Afro B is back on the road and in the midst of a North American tour that spreads his genre of Afro Beats that draws inspiration from the Caribbean and Latin American sounds.
During his early career, Afro B has already collaborated with Chris Brown, French Montana, Gashi, DJ Snake, T-Pain, and Wizkid. In addition to being named the “rising Afrowave King,” Afro B has already lined up 350 million streams of “Drogba.”
Speaking with The Source, Afro B talks about his new music, how he handles fame, and more.
For people who are just getting introduced to you, how did you get your start in music?
Afro B: So this actually started in church, so my parents, at the time, were preaching, and as she forced me to learn how to play the piano, so I could play in the church and alongside the choir. So that’s where the passion kind of spiked. During college is when I picked up the skill of a DJ and in those mixing that, studying and being a promoter for my age group at the time, which is around 16, 17, and then eventually, this led me to start singing. I think that was six years ago. I believe six, seven years ago I released my first song and I would literally be promoting my own song. So I’ll be deejaying and plugging my songs there, or I’ll throw an event and perform at my own event and play my songs on the radio too.
Well, that’s dope. You were operating basically like a mini machine and label for yourself. Did you grow a different appreciation for both the business side and the craft by doing that?
I think me beginning with this approach I got to see the markets differently. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time. I was just thinking outside the box of how to reach the masses and the people who are around me.
Examining today, your single “DROGBA (Joanna)” it’s out of here. Literally, for years, I can’t go anywhere without hearing it and it’s not going anywhere. How does it feel to have a single of that caliber and for your culture to be infused in music culture around the world?
Every artist wants the one song they can perform for the rest of their life. So I’m glad I got that very early in my career. I feel like this song has really opened the doors and for the songs that will come in the future, it is now easier for them to breakthrough as well.
The run of Afro Wave and Afro Beats music is not slowing down. In America, we’re having whole festivals. As one of the leaders of this genre, what let you know how far we have come?
I think my first indication was when I got to New York and my song was on the radio every 10 minutes. That’s when it hit me because I’m from London, I don’t know what’s happening on that on the other side. That’s what made me press the gas on this song and led me to keep it going as long as possible.
What is it like in London? Is the reception to your career so large that you can’t walk down the street?
London hooked on to it first. So by the time it got so America, we in London was like okay, we’ve been there, done that. But that American reaction really made London go “this is our guy, you guys are late.” But they are also happy for me.
You’re on tour, touching Miami, Chicago, plenty of places in America. How has that adjustment been, especially coming from the confinement of a pandemic?
You know what, it takes a lot to get me. I’m very level-headed. Maybe it’s the way I was raised that the popularity or fame or whatever you want to call it, maybe doesn’t really mean anything to me. I’m just happy that I’m just having fun. Just enjoying the moment. I’m here to spread culture, everything else just comes with it.
But not being able to travel around, how did you draw that creativity?
My process is very different. Now I concentrate more on the melodies and the vibe. So I don’t need to be in a specific environment or have specific experiences to make a song. Cause during the pandemic, that’s probably the best music I’ve ever made.
What can we expect from you to close out this year?
I’m aiming for one more single and then a project next year, it’s back to back. It’s basically pandemic music, the whole two years I’ve been recording the music, mastering my craft. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise because I wasn’t flying around and it allowed me to focus and create new music.