Afrobeats isn’t a particular rhythm, like dancehall or dembow. It’s more like a magnet, drawing on and realigning possibilities from across Africa and the African diaspora with a Nigerian sensibility. Davido’s songs have elements that are familiar to American audiences: crisp programmed drum-machine sounds, computer-processed vocals, guest rappers and R&B singers. Like rappers and reggaeton artists, he devotes most of his songs to bragging and romancing.
But in Davido’s music, the programmed beats also mesh with African percussion, twisty guitar and keyboard lines and rhythms from across Africa and the Caribbean. Lyrics in English share space with African languages. And even with Auto-Tune, the personality in Davido’s voice still comes through. His Afrobeats is world music with an African aesthetic of smooth omnivorousness and calm mastery. JON PARELES
STAGECOACH Of the many mainstream country music festivals that pepper the United States each spring and summer, Stagecoach has historically been the least preoccupied with orthodoxy. In part, that’s because of where it’s held — the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., the same field that hosts Coachella — and who throws it: the Coachella promoter Goldenvoice, which isn’t unreasonably beholden to Nashville’s illuminati.
But also, in recent years, country has been loosening up at the fringes, a movement well captured by the 14th iteration of this festival, which runs from April 24 to 26. At the superstar level, it offers an unlikely blend: the soaring Carrie Underwood and the swaggering Alan Jackson, the snarling Eric Church and the genial Thomas Rhett.
But the middle section of the bill is most intriguing — the Southern rock titans ZZ Top; the soft-rock crooner Brett Young and also the hip-hop-conversant LoCash; the unerringly sincere Dan + Shay and the pitch-perfect ironists Midland. Stagecoach also showcases an impressive array of female singers: Gabby Barrett, Ingrid Andress, the Haden Triplets, RaeLynn, Nikki Lane, and naturally, Tanya Tucker, still collecting her flowers.
And finally there are the outliers, acts that might not be booked at any other country festival, but make plenty of sense nonetheless, like the D.J.-producer carpetbagger Diplo and the queer country performance artist Orville Peck. And also the viral country-rap phenom Lil Nas X, who is a pop star though maybe not a country star (or for that matter, a rap star), but makes complete sense at a festival that’s an open-eared revue of the genre and the directions in which it may someday venture. JON CARAMANICA