7 years on from the birth of the amalgamated sounds of what has come to be described as ‘Afroswing’ the momentum that was garnered by the likes of Timbo, J Hus, Sneakbo and many others has diminished some what in the last couple years. However, in light of some recent events it’s looking like the sounds and styles of the UK Afrowave may have a new lease of life.


Over the last few years it’s fair to say that the sound of Afroswing has been relatively conservative and considering the broad influences of the genre, that wasn’t an issue in it’s first few years. But in the last couple of years, outside of projects from front running acts such as J Hus and NSG, the amount of artists that seemed to be fueling the scene’s progression had faded some what, and with it, the force that was evolving the sound. Stylistic stagnation had set in and the music – despite its many influences – was lacking diversity. Well, that was until November last year when Pa Salieu dropped his heavily anticipated debut album ‘Send Them To Coventry’.

The critically acclaimed project that earned the 23 year old rapper the winning spot in the ‘BBC Music’s Sound of 2021 poll’ has been a breathe of fresh air in the UK Rap scene, not just because it masterfully encompasses a lot of the styles that are prominent today, but what makes it especially significant are the Afroswing productions that strongly suggest the potential to for a precursor to the sounds of the future.

Songs like ‘Block Boy’ and ‘Over There’ are stand out selections that really highlight the potential for this new creative direction on the instrumental side of things. Where a lot of ‘Afroswing’ selections of the past have favored the warm synths you commonly find in Afrobeats, these two tracks take a traditional approach to the rhythm and bass, while introducing a colder range of synths to deliver a more electronic sound reminiscent of the various forms of EDM music – but, with an Afro twist.

Fusing the synths and textures of the Post-Dubstep variety with the rhythm section of the Dancehall variety is a direction for the sound that could and should be explored further. Not to say the warm sunshine vibes of the likes of Belly Squad, Swarmz and Hardi Caprio don’t still have their place, but this could be a good point expand on what Afroswing has to offer to the masses. Similar to the ‘Jazz, Grime & Cross Pollination in the Capital’ post I wrote a little while back, a shift in thhe approach of veteran Afroswing producers by introducing more electronic dance elements, or possibly even collaborations with open-minded producers from the “EDM” sphere such as Skream or Joy Orbison could also be an interesting way of shaking things up. In any case, figuring out how to incorporate new influences is a job that will have to fall to the producers, but the good news is, some have already started.

While the prominence of the marimba sound that defined the scene could likely fade into obscurity if producers continue to take the sound down this experimental road, when you factor in the plethora of post-lockdown raves that are likely to pop up due to the 18 month withdrawal from the turn up, this new take on the sound could be an additional soundtrack to the return of the rave scene, and the perfect way to further embrace the ‘swing’ in Afroswing.


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