Afrobeats — along with its leading artistes continue to have a strong crossover moment into modern-day pop music, facilitated by the genre’s unique blend of R&B, reggae, hip-hop, and dance sensibilities.
Grammy award-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, Justin Bieber becomes the latest international superstar to jump on the Afrobeats wave.
Recognized for his genre-melding musicianship, the Canadian superstar has played an influential role in contemporary pop music since he broke out as a teen sensation in 2008.
Bieber today is in love with the Afrobeats sound! In a March 2021 interview, he told Vogue: “That’s my favorite style right now, I’m loving the African beats, it makes you want to move and people need to move”.
Here’s our list of 5 times Justin Bieber flirted with Afrobeats!
1. Peaches (Masterkraft Remix)
Dubbed the year 2021’s “Instagram song of summer” Justin Beiber’s Peaches is undoubtedly the most commercially successful song off his sixth studio album “Justice”.
Originally assisted by American singers, Daniel Caesar and Giveon, the chart-topping single found a new home in the unlikely trio of Nigerian acts Alpha P, Omah Lay, and ace Afrobeats record producer Masterkraft who provided a new bouncy Afro-influenced instrumental that slightly differs from the original song.
The Masterkraft iteration of “Peaches” was only the second official remix of the chart-topping record which spawned multiple official and unofficial remixes.
2. Loved By You ft. Burna Boy
“Loved By You” is also lifted from Bieber’s 16-track sixth studio album “Justice”, which was released on Friday, 19th March 2021.
The song sees the Canadian superstar enlist Burna Boy for an afrobeats-inflected tune, as the two artistes take turns in singing about unrequited love.
On working with Justin Bieber, Burna Boy told CTV’s E-Talk, “It was great! Even though we had to work predominantly over Zoom and FaceTime.”
Presumably, because the song was recorded during the height of the pandemic. “Loved By You” is co-produced by Skrillex and ace Nigerian record producer, Leriq. The ecstatic music producer, in a tweet, expressed his excitement about being a part of the project. Leriq tweeted, “Honored to have co-produced the @justinbieberX@burnaboy track!! Supa stoked to be part of this !!”
3. Freedom ft. Beam
“Freedom” is the title track of Bieber’s 6-track gospel-inspired sophomore EP which was released without any prior announcement on Easter Sunday, 4th April 2021. It followed only two weeks after Bieber’s sixth studio album, Justice, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
The project sees Bieber embark on a soul-searching journey to better understand himself and his past through the lens of his religious beliefs.
On the title track, Bieber taps his usual collaborator — Jamaican-American rapper, singer-songwriter, and record producer, Beam; creating a reflective Afrobeats record where they celebrate the freedom they’ve discovered in “salvation”. The duo does this over a laid-back AFro-influenced instrumental.
4. WizKid — Essence (Remix) ft. Justin Bieber & Tems
On 13th August 2021, Grammy-winning Canadian superstar, Justin Bieber featured on a remix of Wizkid’s groundbreaking hit single, ‘Essence’.
The remix is the closing track to the deluxe version of Wizkid’s fourth studio album, Made in Lagos. The original version which features only Tems appears as the eleventh track of the standard edition of the album.
Justin provides a new verse and two new choruses with him singing them, in which he expresses his love for his wife, Hailey Baldwin Bieber. Taking to social media to announce the collaboration, Bieber thanked WizKid, he tweeted: “Thank u for letting me jump on the song of the summer. Essence remix out tonight.” The following day, when it was released, Justin posted an unofficial music video of his verse only on Instagram.
His most successful Afrobeats try-out yet, “Essence” remix became the first-ever Nigerian record in history to crack the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, and Number 1 on the Billboard R&B Charts.
Justin Bieber brought out Wizkid on stage at 2021’s Made in America Music Festival in Philadelphia, for a first-time performance of the remix.
5. Omah Lay — Attention ft. Justin Bieber
Following the viral success of his appearance on the remix of WizKid’s “Essence,” Justin Bieber continued his foray into the world of Afrobeats as he joined rising Nigerian artiste Omah Lay on “Attention.”
“I was in the studio one day with Harv…As soon as I heard the beat, the lyrics were already in my head. We didn’t even spend 30 minutes making the song. Harv called him and I FaceTimed Justin Bieber for the first time in my life. Later on, Harv got to play the song for him, and … before I knew it, he sent in his verse and the song was good just like that.”
The second collaboration by the two artistes, the Harv and Avedon-produced “Attention” offered fans a preview of Omah Lay’s debut album, Boy Alone, which arrived on 15th July 2022.