Wizkid’s “Essence,” featuring Tems, reaches No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart (dated Sept. 4) in a milestone achievement for the Afrobeats genre. The track by the two Nigerian artists jumps from No. 3 with an 11% improvement to 18 million in audience in the week ending Aug. 29, according to MRC Data, making it the most-heard song at the radio format.
Wizkid grabs his second No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and first as a lead act. He previously reigned through a supporting role on Drake’s nine-week champ “One Dance,” also featuring singer Kyla, in 2016. As a lead act, Wizkid’s only other showing is “Come Closer,” featuring Drake (No. 29 peak, 2017).
Tems, meanwhile, achieves her first No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, with “Essence” marking her first entry on the list.
“Essence” crowns R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay in its ninth week, notably one of the fastest times in recent years for a lead act without much history on the chart. Although other songs in the past year — such as Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open” and Drake’s “Laugh Now Cry Later,” featuring Lil Durk — have topped the chart in as many or fewer weeks, those acts tend to generate near-automatic acceptance at radio based on a strong track record of successful singles and wide superstar appeal with U.S. audiences. Wizkid, though, becomes the first act to rule R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay in under nine weeks without having notched any previous top five hits on the chart since DaBaby sent “Suge” to the pole position in its eighth frame in June 2019.
In addition to its coronation on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, which measures audience on mainstream and adult R&B/hip-hop stations, “Essence” ascends 4-2 on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. It climbs with a 14% boost in plays in the week ending Aug. 29, achieving the largest percentage gain at the format for the second consecutive week.
Beyond its mainstream R&B/hip-hop base, “Essence” gains traction on three other radio charts. It debuts on Adult R&B Airplay at No. 25; knocks on the door of the Rhythmic Airplay top 10, advancing 15-11; and continues its early progress on Pop Airplay (40-36, up 76% week-over-week in plays). “Essence” traces part of its emergence on the latter two formats to its remix with Justin Bieber, released Aug. 13.
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