IS THE JURY IN ON AFROSWING? VLAD TV, KOJO FUNDS & NAMING THE SOUND

Last night VladTV dropped their interview with the UK’s rising star Kojo Funds who’s been belting out the bangers this year. True to form Vlad kicked it off with his usual slew of fetishised questions about British gun culture and our inner city streetlife. But after getting through the obligatory gun talk the conversation moved towards the burgeoning amagalmated UK Afrobeats, Bashment and Rap sound, and – more specifically – the name of the “genre”.

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Vlad referred to at it as ‘Afroswing’. The title originally coined by Kojo himself. ‘It has a heavy Afrobeats influence, but swings between genres like RnB, Hip Hop and Bashment.’ – being his explanation for this particualr name in multiple interviews in the past. Which then led to the name being picked up by Julie Adenuga who went on to create the Apple Beats playlist of the same name; despite ‘Afro-Bashment’ being another front runner for the title after the Spotify playlist was created not long before.

The general outlook on what it should be called has been a mixed bag based on the conversations I’ve had. In the opinion of UK Afrobeats pioneer ‘Mista Silva’: “For me everyones tryna sugar coat the ting – that’s how I see it. To make it seem like
it’s not directly African, but at the end of the day I think everyone should just call it Afrobeats init. It’s in the UK now, so it should be called UK Afrobeats. We’re UK and we’ve blended the two cultures for it to be what it is…”. Which makes sense all things considered, but the heavy Bashment influence can’t be overlooked. It’s relationship with Dancehall was even questioned in the VladTV interview – as he rightly recognised that the sounds were incredibly similar – which in many regards makes the name ‘Afroswing’ more accurate.

With that said, UK Super-Producer ‘Steel Banglez’ had his own opinion when I mentioned the name ‘Afro-Bashment’ which I was running with at the time in a prior interview. “We’re just calling it UK rap. The reason why it’s not Afro-Bashment is because it’s still got strong elements of Rap. It’s a tricky one. I don’t know if it’s “Afro-Bashment” though…”. A fair comment, and although the Afro-Bashment name was and still is quite popular, something about it just isn’t right.

There’s been many names over the years. ‘Afrohop’ coined by Timbo – a pioneer in the sound who, along with his crew ‘STP’ really set pace circa 2014 and have been key players in shaping the path for guys like J Hus, MoStack & Kojo Funds to come through today. But with the name ‘Afrohop’, you also had Blairy Hendrix and Joshua Beatz – the production duo who created the belting beat for J Hus’ breakthrough anthem ‘Dem Boy Paigon’ – who referred to their sound – or the sound – as Traprobeats’ back in 2014. With the aforementioned ‘Afroswing’ and ‘Afro-Bashment’ title contenders surfacing this year.

The reality is, the sound is an amalgamation of strong African and Jamaican musical, and cultural influences tied together on British shores with heavy “Urban British” dialect, style and attitutde in the mix. So, given how the name ‘Afroswing’ has come to be defined by Kojo, plus the Apple Beats/Julie Adenuga cosign, and the fact that Vlad has recognised it as a bonafide UK sound – on a global media platform – I think it’s safe to assume that, whether you like it or not, it’s looking like the Jury is in on Afroswing.

You can check out the full VLADTV X Kojo Funds interview below:

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