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The Impact of African Music on American Pop Culture

How Hip-Hop Music Influenced By Africa

African music has had a profound impact on the development of American pop culture. While African music has long been regarded as one of the most influential genres in popular music, it is only recently that scholars and artists alike have explored this connection.  Although African roots remain prominent in African American musical culture, African American music is a synthesis of musical traditions from Europe, Africa, and Native American civilizations, as well as other influences from across the world.

African Americans are responsible for the majority, if not all, of America’s musical invention. Most of the popular music genres we are familiar with today wouldn’t exist without the musical contributions of African Americans. Traditional African music genres and the music produced by Africans in America have impacted everything from hip-hop to rock to bluegrass.

This article will provide an overview of how African music has influenced American pop culture, from Elvis Presley to the Beatles to Sub-Saharan Africa itself.

The Influence of African Music on Elvis

Before he became a superstar, Elvis Presley was a big fan of African American music. He loved the blues and gospel music, but his favorite genre was R&B. His favorite singer was Ray Charles, who was very popular in the 1950s with hits like “I’ve Got a Woman” and “Hit the Road Jack.”

When Elvis made his first record at Sun Records in Memphis Tennessee in 1954, he recorded “That’s All Right Mama,” an African American song that had been written for Bill Monroe by Charlie Rich and Roy Brown before being covered by B.B King.

The Influence of African Music on the Beatles

The Beatles were among the first Western bands to recognize the influence of African music on their own work. They had a deep appreciation for the music, especially that of Fela Kuti, who became famous for his use of high-pitched horns and heavy beats.

The band’s use of African instruments such as the kora and djembe was also revolutionary; they helped bring traditional sounds into mainstream popular culture.

The Influence of African Music on Sub-Saharan Africa

In the past, African music has had a major influence on American popular culture. The popularity of African music in America is attributed to its use in modern day commercial and hip hop songs.

In recent times, rap artists have been incorporating elements of African music into their tracks and songs which are currently being consumed by the youth population around the world.

This influence can be traced back to as early as 1983 when Run DMC released their album “Death on Legs” that featured some samples from Fela Kuti’s song titled “I Go Shout Plenty.” The success of this track led other rappers to incorporate elements of Afrobeat into their work as well.


The influence of African music on American pop culture is undeniable. In the 1950s, Elvis Presley collaborated with African-American musicians such as Ray Charles and Sam Phillips to create a sound that was influenced by Black gospel music. The Beatles visited Africa in 1966 and were inspired by the local music they heard while they were there.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, African music has become increasingly popular and influential since the 1980s. This can be attributed to Radio 702 broadcasting from Johannesburg, South Africa. It was one of the first radio stations to play exclusively local artists and encourage people within their community to listen.

The next time you head to a concert or turn on the radio, think about how African music has influenced American pop culture. The soundscape of our country is a rich tapestry of styles and genres that reflect our diverse population and heritage. We’re proud to be part of this great tradition!