Afrobeats: Chart show host celebrates ‘beautiful year’ for genre

If you needed proof that Afrobeats has found its way firmly into western pop culture, Eddie Kadi reckons he’s got it.

“I saw Burna Boy having a conversation with Elton John recently,” he says.

Once upon a time, it might have been surprising to see the West African genre’s breakout star chatting to British pop royalty.

But Eddie, who’s been hosting the UK’s first Official Afrobeats Chart Show for the past 12 months, isn’t so shocked.

“It’s a year that’s been really significant for Afrobeats,” he says. “The growth, the sound that’s penetrated around the world.”

The genre – a mix of African and Western influences – has seen a massive rise in popularity over recent years, with songs regularly crossing over into the mainstream.

Burna Boy and Wizkid, two of Nigeria’s biggest stars, have headlined some of the world’s major music festivals and both took home Grammys in 2021.

And some of the premier names in music, like Beyonce and Drake, have also featured Afrobeats artists on their albums.

Eddie Kadi says artists like Burna Boy have “flown the flag for Afrobeats”
Burna Boy, who has dominated the Afrobeats chart since it launched, has been its poster child.

His recent hit Last Last spent a whopping 13 consecutive weeks at number one – the longest time permitted before a track is retired from the top spot.

He’s also worked with top names including Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Jorja Smith and rapper Dave.

“Everyone has seen Burna’s rise transcend the west African Nigerian sound into the UK sound,” says Eddie.

“And more importantly he’s been able to just go around the world waving the flag of Afrobeats.”

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Last Last is among 11 tracks to have crossed over into the UK’s Official Singles Chart Top 100 and Top 40, both peaking in the top 5.

It was pipped to the overall top slot by Fireboy DML’s Peru featuring Ed Sheeran, the best-performing track based on streams and sales in the UK.

“Whether it’s new or established artists breaking new barriers around the world, selling out venues, stadiums, collaborating with other artists, it’s just been beautiful to see the growth,” says Eddie.

“Especially here in the UK where we have at least four Afrobeats songs in the official charts as well.”

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Eddie is preparing to celebrate the Official Afrobeats Chart Show’s one-year anniversary later on BBC Radio 1Xtra.

And he’s hoping year two is going to be even more exciting.

“For me the collaborations are going to get crazier and crazier,” says Eddie, thinking back to Burna Boy’s chat with Elton John.

“Wouldn’t we want to see that sort of collaboration as well?

“I see it getting wider and wider and a new generation taking on to it.

“I’ve always felt the music was going to get here – it’s been about people having the privilege of being able to catch up with this music.”