Why Burna Boy Is Truly Afrobeats Biggest Giant


Over time and from fan perspective, several popularity metrics have been employed to determine who the biggest artistes of an era are.

In the 1980s Michael Jackson’s thriller album was reportedly selling over a million copies per week, months after its release. Today, Canadian hitmaker, Drake holds the records for highest first day streams for an album both on Apple Music and Spotify.

On stan Twitter, fans of artistes congregate under Chart Data’s twitter page to vehemently tout chart positions, first week album sales and certification as the reason for the superiority of their artiste against others.

All of these metrics, valid in their own right omit the true test of an artiste’s fanbase and the bedrock of longevity. Touring.

A hot single or video can lead to great album sales, the Thriller video and Billie Jean Motown’s performance did for Michael Jackson. Labels and artistes have been known to engage in commercial trickery to boost album sales, most recent of which was merch bundling, which Billboard prohibited from contributing towards album sales.

Sponsored placements and heavy playlisting also play a role in inflating an artiste’s streaming numbers. In 2020 and 2021 respectively when Tekashi 6ix9ine and Tory lanez were removed from curated playlists of top music streaming platforms, the consumption of their music noticeably reduced. It is more common for artistes with bigger label budgets to stream better than independent artistes.

The true reflection of an artistes fanbase is evidenced in the number of fans that are willing to pay for tour and show tickets.

The big trio of Afrobeats, Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy have firmly placed Nigeria’s flag on the surface of global music. Together they have cumulatively amassed streams in the billions, garnered platinum and gold certifications as well as having multiple international awards. To prove their primacy and settle conversations around the leader of their musical generation, these artistes have upped the stakes by selling out international venues.

This is where Burna Boy takes the crown.

In fairness to Wizkid and Davido, both artistes have sold out the O2 Arena in London on multiple occasions, with Wizkid selling out the venue on back-to-back nights in 2021. Wizkid has also gone on to have the biggest and highest-grossing US tour for a Nigerian Act, with the Made In Lagos Tour, but Burna Boy’s feats regarding touring are much more astronomical than his counterparts.

Burna Boy

Burna Boy sold out the O2 Arena in 2021 as part of his Twice as Tall album tour, although under disputed circumstances and has not looked back since. The ‘Ye’ singer has gone on to become the first Nigerian artiste to sell out all tickets at the 20,300 capacity Accor Arena event centre in Paris, France twice in his career, sell out the 8,094 Hovet Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, as well as the  5,500 capacity Partille Arena in Partille, Sweden and headlined the 17,500 capacity Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, among other venues.

In April 2022, it was reported that Burna Boy sold out the 20,000 capacity Madison Square Garden in New York, USA. The first and only Nigerian to achieve such feat.

In comparison, Wizkid sold an impressive 54,050 tickets across 18 outings in the US leg of his Made in Lagos Tour, averagely selling just over 3000 tickets per show. This is not in any way a mean feat especially as an African act, However, in comparison with the figures reported for Burna Boy for Hollywood Bowl and the Madison Square Garden shows it is safe to infer that Burna Boy has the bigger touring audience in the United States.


Asides filling up the O2 Arena and despite selling out the Royal Albert Hall in the United Kingdom and a 10,000 venue in Suriname respectively, both Wizkid and Davido are yet to rival the touring capacity of Burna Boy.

The Nigerian and African music audience is smarting up to understand that above streaming numbers and certifications, ticket sales are the biggest source of income and bragging rights for artistes, an awareness that was championed quite early on among contemporary African artistes by South African, Cassper Nyovest. In 2015, the SA rapper started the Fill Up The Dome movement, his attempt to become the first local artist to sell out the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg.

Cassper Nyovest

As far as Afrobeats go, the sky is just its starting point and why it has many apostles spreading its tidings beyond the shores of Africa, currently Burna Boy is its chief apostle.

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