Burna Boy performs at Glastonbury and a brief history of Afrobeats

On Sunday evening, Grammy award-winning artiste Burna Boy will electrify the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, marking his debut on the festival’s most iconic platform, per bbc.com. This milestone is not just significant for Burna Boy but also a testament to the meteoric rise of Afrobeats, a genre that has swiftly moved from West African origins to global prominence.

Burna Boy’s performance follows the footsteps of fellow Afrobeats stars Ayra Starr and Tems, who also graced Glastonbury stages this weekend. Ayra Starr encapsulated the sentiment shared by many in the Afrobeats community, stating, “It’s our time. It’s been a long time coming, and we deserve this.”

Afrobeats originated in Nigeria and Ghana and began its ascent in the 2010s with artistes like Fuse ODG and D’banj. Not to be confused with “Afrobeat”—a genre pioneered by Fela Kuti in the 1960s and 70s—Afrobeats blends traditional West African sounds with elements of Western pop, rap and dancehall. This modern genre has gained significant traction, particularly among younger audiences, partly due to the power of social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube.

The genre’s breakthrough moment in the UK can be traced back to D’banj’s 2012 hit “Oliver Twist,” which broke into the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart. Since then, Afrobeats has seen exponential growth, with Spotify reporting a 1,200% increase in Afrobeats streams since 2017.

Collaborations with major international artistes have further propelled Afrobeats into the global spotlight. Notable examples include Drake featuring Wizkid on “One Dance” and Beyoncé working with several Afrobeats artistes on her Lion King: The Gift album.

Burna Boy’s historical performance at the London Stadium in 2023, where he became the first African artiste to headline a sold-out stadium show in the UK, is a testament to the genre’s global appeal. As DJ Edu from BBC 1Xtra’s AfroSounds show notes, “Afrobeats has ignited a global revolution, and its captivating trajectory shows no sign of slowing.”

With its infectious rhythms and positive vibes, Afrobeats continues to win over audiences worldwide. As Burna Boy’s mother aptly puts it, the genre’s rise is “a work in progress” but undoubtedly a phenomenon that has forever altered the landscape of global music.


  • Featured image: Burna Boy performing onstage/Getty Images


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