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Afro B

Afro B is the working moniker of rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, and former DJ Ross-Emmanuel Bayeto. He calls his signature meld of electronic dance music, hip hop, Afro-pop, reggaeton, Afrobeat, and dancehall, "AfroWave." Though he DJ'ed in the London club scene for years, and produced and participated in various recording projects from 2015 on, it was 2018's "Drogba (Joanna)" that broke him internationally and inspired the international #DrogbaChallenge dance craze. The single peaked at number 23 on the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart in 2019, and has inspired several remixes. The track became a club staple on both sides of the Atlantic for more than two years. He followed it with the singles "Melanin" and "Shape Nice," the latter with Jamaican stars Vybz Kartel and Dre Skull. He released three numbered full-length mixtapes entitled AfroWave. Two were self-released while the third, AfroWave 3, was issued by the U.K. independent EMPIRE in 2019.

Born in the Greenwich region of London in 1993 to French-speaking Ivorian parents, Ross-Emmanuel Bayeto began playing piano while in secondary school and eventually assumed the role in his church choir. From listening to the radio and the recordings of friends, he became obsessed with turntablism and mixing. His early DJ tracks included 2013's "My Sweet Coco" in collaboration with Mista Silva, and Baba God” in collaboration with SK, a modern gospel worship song. During a long tenure at a Jamaican club called NW10, he began promoting the scene that has become "Afrobeats" in London, a hybrid, multilingual music that crisscrosses genres, origins, and languages, not to be confused with Nigerian Afrobeat. The Londoner then moved into producing. Carefully curating his integrative new style, it caught on and other DJs and producers began spinning, mixing, and recording music as Afrobeats. Afro B's debut mixtape AfroWave appeared in 2017. "Drogba (Joanna)" was cut as as an homage to Didier Drogba, a Chelsea and Ivory Coast National Team football star. A 2018 re-release and initial "garage" remix produced by Team Salut climbed to the upper rungs of the U.K. dance charts. Afro B then developed the dance that became the "#Drogba Challenge" that quite literally took over the U.K. dance scene for the better part of two years, while the single ran up the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart and peaked at number 23. The video, shot in multiple locations including New York and Paris, featured the artist and a bevy of Afrobeats dancers moving to the song's infectious chorus. It also highlighted some of the viral Drogba Challenge videos from social media, and included clips of Didier Drogba himself. Afro B issued the "Stepped In (Sexy Back)" feat. Swift single in May and the AfroWave 2 mixtape compilation later in the year.

Ghazi Shami, president and CEO of U.K. independent EMPIRE signed Afro B to the label in June of 2019 as the French Montana remix of "Drogba (Joanna)" was rampaging over the dancefloors of clubs in the U.K., the U.S., and the Caribbean. The single "Melanin" (feat. Yemi Alade) appeared at the same time and was followed by "Shape Nice" (feat. Vybz Kartel and Dre Skull). Afro B made his own guest spot on Ashanti's "Pretty Little Thing" single and followed it with his own "Go Dance" (feat. Busy Signal) and "Fine Wine & Hennessey" (feat. Slim Jxmmi), and appeared on Josey's "Touch My Body." AfroWave 3 appeared before the end of the year and included the track "Condo" in collaboration with T-Pain. Afro B kicked off 2020 with two club smashes in "Slow Wine" (feat. Machel Montano) and the streaming hit "Safety 2020" in collaboration with Chris Brown and DJ Snake. ~ Thom Jurek

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