The Official Charts Company has launched the Official UK Afrobeats Chart, a new Top 20 weekly rundown spotlighting the rising scene in the UK.
Understood to be the world’s first official chart for the genre, the Official Afrobeats Chart is to be compiled on behalf of the British music industry, using Official Charts Company sales and streaming data.
The very first chart will be unveiled in The Official UK Afrobeats Show on BBC Radio 1Xtraon Sunday, July 26 from 1pm-3pm, featuring a range of hosts and artists from around the world celebrating the launch.
The Top 20 chart will then be published every Sunday at 2pm via a weekly Spotify Official UK Afrobeats Chart playlist, featuring the 20 biggest Afrobeats tracks of the week plus a bonus slot on a new release for listeners to discover. A weekly video countdown will run on the social channels of festival brand Afro Nation and Official Charts, with the full chart published on OfficialCharts.com.
Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Afro Nation in the launch of this new Afrobeats Chart. This fast-growing genre is having an increasingly powerful impact on the music landscape right now, both in the UK and further afield, through artists including the likes of NSG, J Hus and Burna Boy. We’re thrilled to be helping cast a spotlight on this success through the development of the genre’s own dedicated weekly chart.”
Mark Strippel, outgoing head of programmes at BBC Radio 1Xtra, said: “1Xtra has been committed to championing the Afrobeats scene since our formation and we’re excited to support the launch of the first-ever UK Afrobeats Chart. This is much-needed and long overdue. We’re proud to be a part of history.”
Kofi ‘Funkz’ Kyei, artist manager and head of marketing at independent record label Moves Recordings and one of the team responsible for the chart’s creation, said: “It has been amazing to witness over the past decade the sheer growth in African music being welcomed by the UK and the international market. A scene that defines a culture, a people and countless generations, its music has soundtracked underground culture for years, being the go-to sound in clubs, parties and communities in a way that’s shaped our very culture.
“For too long, Afrobeats artists have had to work tirelessly to get their voices heard. Now African music/Afrobeats is finally being seen as a leading sound that global superstars turn to on a regular basis. The Official UK Afrobeats Chart will help open up the culture to new audiences, giving emerging artists the opportunity to be heard whilst celebrating the sound of a continent that has gone global. Its importance can’t be measured and I look forward to celebrating the biggest and best tracks each and every week!"
The Official UK Afrobeats Chart will help open up the culture to new audiences
Kofi ‘Funkz’ Kyei
UK Afrobeats artist Mista Silva said: “I believe that the rise of Afrobeats has played a massive role in shaping the music scene within the UK and across the globe. For the last 10 years it has provided inspiration, confidence in identity, confidence in culture and pushed the boundaries of the music industry. It’s beautiful to see the growth and exciting to see where it goes.”
South London female rapper Darkoo, whose track Gangsta (with One Acen) is the biggest female-led Afrobeats track of the past 12 months, said: “Africa to the world and back! It’s nice to see recognition of our music in the Official Charts, it’s a real game changer. We’ve gone from listening to Afrobeats on a more cultural level to now seeing it in a commercial space – nice to see!”
While the genre has thrived on the club and underground scene in Britain for some time, 2019 was the moment when artists such as Nigeria’s Burna Boy (pictured), WizKid, NSG and ZieZie broke through, with several hits impacting the Top 10.
Own It by Stormzy/Ed Sheeran/Burna Boy, went to No.1 and has 1,111,015 sales to date. Location by Dave, also featuring Burna Boy, has 1,342,904 sales.
New analysis from the Official Charts Company illustrates the rise of Afrobeats. In 2019 Afrobeats artists collectively spent 86 weeks in the Top 40, a big swing upwards from 24 weeks in 2017, while the number of tracks entering the UK Top 40 with either a lead or featured Afrobeats act more than doubled in the same period.
In 2017 just one artist from the genre broke into the Top 10: Kojo Funds, who collaborated with Mabel on Finders Keepers. In 2019, the number of Afrobeats tracks achieving a Top 10 placing rose six-fold, spending 18 weeks inside the Official Singles Chart Top 10 across the year.
According to Official Charts Company data on the biggest Afrobeats tracks from the last 12 months, J Hus’ hit Must Be is the biggest single (309,515 sales to date).
Burna Boy, who performed alongside Stormzy at the BRIT Awards, had UK chart entries with Own It (with Stormzy and Ed Sheeran), Be Honest with Jorja Smith and Mahalia’s Simmer. The OCC identified his track Ye as the second biggest pure Afrobeats song of the past 12 months.
Other big hitters in the list include six-piece NSG, hailing from Hackney, East London, and Croydon/Congolese rapper ZieZie.
The surging popularity of Afrobeats in Britain is another example of the growing globalisation in the streaming era. K-pop acts from South Korea such as BTS and girl group Blackpink have enjoyed UK chart success, alongside Latin acts J Balvin and Luis Fonsi.
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