Nigeria’s Burna Boy has become the first international Afrobeats artist to secure a number one album in Britain with “I Told Them…”, the UK’s Official Charts Company said on Friday. The Nigerian-born global star, whose real name is Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, shot straight to top spot in the British charts with his fifth full-length release.
He had come close to earning the accolade with last year’s “Love, Damini”, which climbed to second in the UK album rankings. Homegrown British talents making Afrobeats music, such as J Hus, have enjoyed chart-topping success but Burna Boy is the first foreign artist to do so.
The feat marks the continued rise of the Afrobeats genre in Britain and around the world, as artists like Wizkid and Davido also enjoy mainstream success and increasingly shape segments of popular culture.
Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company, paid tribute to Burna Boy for “blazing the trail” and landing a “fantastic achievement”.
“British music fans have always been renowned for their love of new music and embracing cultures from around the world, and the explosion of interest in Afrobeats’ musical culture over the past decade has been a concrete example of this,” he said.
Afrobeats takes its name from the Afrobeat musical genre of the 1970s popularised by the music icon Fela Kuti and which exploded in Nigeria.
Western audiences were discovering its scene in 2016 thanks to the hit “One Dance”, featuring Canadian superstar Drake and Wizkid.
The tune soared in popularity to secure a place as the most played song of all time on Spotify, surpassing one billion streams.
Alongside Nigerian stars like Burna Boy and Wizkid, with millions of social media followers, Ghanaian musicians are also emerging to take their turn in the global spotlight.
Gyakie and Joey B boast hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers while KiDi, Sarkodie and Shatta Wale — who enjoyed success with a 2020 track featuring Beyonce and Major Lazer — are also gaining in prominence.