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Introduction To Afrobeat Drumming – African Kings

“I am not a bushman!” says a bloke at the beginning of the track African Kings by Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra. What does he mean?

I don’t know.

I don’t know a lot about Afrobeat either but since I started listening to Antibalas a while back I have been getting into this style of music and, of course, the attendant drumming style. Getting to grips with Afrobeat means listening to Fela Kuti and the legendary Tony Allen who is considered the father of Afrobeat drumming. Allen’s drumming is funky, driving and very busy. His independence is impressive and I’m struck by his ability to move around the kit using different voices without disrupting his groove or the band’s flow, something Antibalas’ Miles Arntzen emulates very well.

So I’ve been working on some exercises to develop my Afrobeat playing which I’ll post here soon but to start the journey off let’s look at African Kings by Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra. This track is the opposite of busy. Drummer, Eddie Hick sits on his groove and plays the same two-bar pattern pretty much throughout the composition. The main groove has a couple of the elements I found to be common to the style – the hihat pattern and the double snare strokes on 4 and 4e. Try to dig the lope and get into it.

Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra - African Kings Main Groove

After the breakdown the drums come back in with a fantastically funky beat that you should take the trouble to learn.

African Kings - Other Groove

Have a listen to it here:


Download the PDF: Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra’s African Kings Drum Grooves.