Apala is a socio-religious music style that takes root in Yoruba philosophy and poetry. Apart from Haruna Ishola who popularized this Yoruba genre of music in the 70’s, Ayinla Omowura made the genre acceptable to the public by loading his lyrics with instructive messages. As a result, Apala became the toast of everyday people— commercial drivers, meat sellers, motor mechanics, etc.


Apala is one of the earliest forms of Yoruba Popular Music developed by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Apala evolved from the fusion of traditional Yoruba music and Islamic practices. It developed as non-liturgical Islamic music performed during Muslim festivals and events in Yoruba land. It is a blend of Islamic Were music vocal style with traditional Yoruba musical elements and instruments. It was birthed out of the need to create non-liturgical Yoruba Islamic music that was still enjoyed at social events of the Yoruba Muslims. Apala music started out as highly proverbial folklore and transcended to a broader context, cutting across different socio-political and socio-cultural topics. The themes of Apala music may thus be religious, political, eulogical, satirical, educational, liturgical, etc. Many artists have distinguished themselves in the performance and practice of Apala music. Some of the major exponents who nurtured Apala to popularity include Ligali Mukaiba, Haruna Ishola, Ayinla Omowura, Adisa Aniyameta, Raimi Dogo, Lasisi Layemi, Aminu Olaribigbe, Lasisi Onipede, and Kasunmu Alao. Some of the present artists are, Musiliu Haruna Ishola, Y.K. Ajadi, Dauda Epoakara, Bode Davies, Tunji Sotimirin, Femi Lewis, amongst many others.

Form and Style

Unlike Fuji, Apala music genre does not incorporate western musical instruments or synthetic sounds. Also, the singing/ideas communicated through Apala songs are central to the genre.

Singing Style

The lead singer, usually male, sings with an Islamic cantillation tonality The call and response singing style is a given as the backup singers either reply or harmonize the lead's melody in a chorus form. The singing is usually a rendition of a story or proverb, with the story narrated through out the duration of the track. Dynamic chorusing mostly advances the central story or idea of the song.


Storytelling Egoism (egotism) Praise singing - Often singing the praises of the elite and super-rich Morality


The predominant cultural influence on this genre is the Yoruba folklore In addition, Yoruba proverbs and Yoruba Spirituality also have a significant influence on this genre


Most Apala music will often present with a polyphonic, coarse and sharp timbre.


Musical scholars are generally in agreement that the arrangement of most Fuji music is often done with a beat signature close to the 4/4, 6/8

Key Instruments