Afro Nation, the world’s biggest afrobeats festival, which spanned from March 24th – 26th, took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico this year. The three-day experience was filled with beautiful people, pouring rain, all the right vices, and of course amazing music and talent. Every night was like a gigantic family reunion where a sea of melanin rejoiced over lyrics and ear delicious instrumentals.
Although it was an inspiring cultural experience, like any major event, there were a few mishaps. One is that fans were promised to see the sensational singer Tems and reggae artist, Koffee but they pulled out leading into the start of the festival.
Another disappointment was that headliner Burna Boy on the first day of the event, unfortunately, “pulled out.” These cancellations were met with plenty of outrage due to the fact that fans planned months ahead to see the specific artist.
Filling Burna Boy’s absence was none other than Mr. Maybach Music himself, Rick Ross. Rick Ross’s set was about an hour-long full of his classics. His distinct booming voice was heard all throughout the atmosphere but his presence wasn’t nearly as felt. Let’s just say his energy didn’t really match with the majority of fans.
Other well-known performers such as Omah Lay, Olamide, King Promise, Rema, Naira Marley, and Yemi Alade killed their performances. They each brought their own uplifting energy, inspiring the crowd to move fearlessly with joy. One downside is that each performer seemed to love this trend of playing the soundtrack, to which they perform with, for about a minute and then stopping it for an acapella moment. While I enjoyed this strategy for the first few performances, it became redundant by the third day of the festival. In between sets, DJ’s and MC’s would keep the party bumping by playing music that catered to the black diaspora from old school hits like Daddy Lumba’s “Aben Wo Aha” to the V.I.C’s “Wobble.”
Not only were some of the biggest names in the afrobeats genre at the festival but also one of the biggest hip-hop stars was in attendance: Megan Thee Stallion. Her performance was magnificent in every aspect. Her stage presence commanded undivided attention and the uncanny strength of her knees received massive gratitude. There were also a couple of moments where she invited fans on stage, in which they were given the spotlight to shake what their mamas gave them! Afterward, they also shared their deep love and appreciation to Megan which not only moved her but the entire crowd.
As rain was pouring from the Puerto Rico skies, the two-man boy band, P-Square, serenaded the crowd with soulful belts and bold lyrics, which made for a memorable performance. They had all the tricks and gimmicks; there was choreography, ballads, fireworks, etc. They performed hits such as “Personally,” “Chop My Money,” “Collabo,” and “Shekini.”
Afrobeat giant, Davido, who was added late to the festival lineup, also blessed the stage with an electrifying set. He performed all his hits such as “Fall,” “If,” “Assurance,” “Dami Duro,” and plenty more. The crowd couldn’t get enough of him; you could tell his energy radiated with almost everyone.
Closing out the festival was the infamous Wizkid. Fresh off the success of his 2021 summer single, “Essence” featuring Tems and his album Made In Lagos, fans were excited for his arrival to Afro Nation. But once again, there was a mishap. Wizkid’s original set time was at 12 AM but he didn’t come on till around 2 AM.
As you can imagine, many fans were disappointed by his tardiness and decided to leave the event. But the dedicated fans stuck around till his arrival. Due to his delay, the performance didn’t quite reach fan expectations. Nonetheless, he performed with high energy and charisma all his fan favorites such as “Brown Skin Girl,” “Joro,” “Mood,” “Come Closer,” and “Show You The Money.”
Afronation, despite its flaws, was a magical experience filled with awe-inspiring beauty. People from all walks of life shared three days listening to music that is rooted in rich culture and history. It was therapy on vibrant ground, where bodies gyrated to fluid tempos, kisses were shared with no hesitation nor speculation, and where eyes clung to their heroes. Every fan that attended the three-day event understood the assignment: live in the moment, with love.
Afronation is set to be in Portugal from July 1st to the 3rd with a lineup that consists of headliners like Burna Boy, P-Square, and Chris Brown. Let’s hope they all show up.