In the first half of 2023, the Afrobeats music genre experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity, captivating audiences around the globe. Nigerian artists such as Burna Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Rema, and Tems played a significant role in driving the genre’s rise and breaking numerous records.
These artists, often referred to as Afrobeats ambassadors, have sold out prestigious venues worldwide, garnered international awards, and shattered previously unimaginable chart records. Their collective efforts have propelled the global appeal of Afrobeats and showcased the immense talent emerging from Nigeria.
Tiwa Savage, known as the Queen of Afrobeats, made history by becoming the first Nigerian artist to perform at the coronation of an English monarch. On May 6, she joined other top artists in a memorable performance at Westminster Abbey during Prince Charles’ coronation. The news of her participation elicited mixed reactions in Nigeria, with some viewing it as a progressive milestone for Afrobeats, while others expressed disappointment, highlighting Britain’s colonial legacy in Nigeria.
A standout collaboration between Rema and Selena Gomez titled “Calm Down” achieved unprecedented success, emerging as Afrobeats’ biggest crossover hit to date. The song soared to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June, making it the highest-charting hit from an Afrobeats lead artist in the history of the chart. This accomplishment marked Rema’s debut on the chart and became Selena Gomez’s second-highest peaking hit of her career. Selena Gomez expressed her gratitude towards Rema on Instagram, acknowledging the song’s impact on her own career.
Tems, an emerging artist, made headlines by becoming the first female Afrobeats artist to win a Grammy award. She secured the Best Melodic Rap Performance category for her contribution to the hit song “Wait for U” alongside Future and Drake. Fellow Nigerian artists, including Tiwa Savage, Waje, and Omowunmi, celebrated her achievement on social media, hailing her as the first Nigerian female artist to win a Grammy. However, some disputed this claim, arguing that British-Nigerian singer Sade had previously won the award four times.
Tems gained significant recognition in 2020 after being featured on Wizkid’s single “Essence,” which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Following the release of the remix version featuring Justin Bieber, the song garnered further attention and solidified Tems’ position in the music industry.
Davido’s fourth album, ‘Timeless,’ marked his comeback after a hiatus in 2022 due to the tragic loss of his young son. The album garnered immense anticipation and set new standards in the music industry, with the highest number of pre-orders by an African artist. ‘Timeless’ surpassed the previous record set by Burna Boy’s Grammy-winning album ‘Twice as Tall’ and achieved the highest number of streams in a single day by an African artist, surpassing the previous record held by Wizkid’s ‘Made in Lagos’ album.
Burna Boy made waves across the globe by becoming the first African artist to sell out the London Stadium. A massive crowd of 60,000 people attended his historic concert in Britain, solidifying his status as a groundbreaking figure in the Afrobeats industry.
The remarkable rise of Afrobeats can be attributed to its fusion of African and Western influences, captivating audiences worldwide. The contributions of artists like Burna Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Rema, and Tems have played a pivotal role in elevating the genre’s global recognition and establishing Nigerian artists as forces to be reckoned with in the music industry. With their record-breaking achievements and remarkable talent, Afrobeats continues to thrive and captivate audiences around the world.
Words By: Daniel Nzohabonimana