But back in the day, the tempo used to be a lot faster and if your song couldn’t be danced to, it wasn’t gonna become a hit.
Of course, guys like Olamide, Davido, and WizKid ate good off the fast-paced thing doing a lot of hits (a few times together even) with the uptempo style.
Fast forward to 2020 and all the songs are extremely laid-back, Wizkid doing an album and not hitting the 120bpm mark, Olamide doing a completely solemn album, and Davido sticking to cool amapiano sounds. We’ve really come a long way from when everything was just all high-tempo drums and all that stuff.
But who actually made it happen? The first person that comes to mind is Runtown, who in 2016, pioneered a fresh wave of alkayida-influenced afro sounds that gave birth to such hits as “Mad Over You.”
The sound, later christened ‘pon pon’, became the rave of the town and for a year Runtown kept making hits with that same mid-tempo template. It was a real paradigm shift and the industry followed suit with most artists (including rappers) switching up to do the bestselling sound of that time.
Since then, the industry has never been able to return to that fast-paced “On Top Your Matter” kind of thing. So, in a way, maybe Runtown actually started it? But hold that thought.
In 2016, he made waves with “Final (Baba Nla),” a very relaxed mid-tempo song, and then went on to release “Daddy Yo,” the first single off his “Sounds From The Other Side” LP.
When he finally released SFTOS, it received a lot of backlash for being un-African, mostly because WizKid stuck to mellow sounds that people couldn’t dance to. He kind of saw the feature. A perfected version of the music on SFTOS is what we now heard with “Made in Lagos,” that the whole world has now fallen in love with.
So, while Runtown kinda inspired the ‘pon pon’ wave that drastically slowed down our tempo, Wizkid was already making moves to push a new kind of Afrobeats that was just as slow and cool.