- by E. Nriezedi
- 9:00 PM December 02, 2021
A few months after Wizkid’s ‘Essence’ featuring Tems, and Justin Bieber was released, the song has gone ahead to make history as the first African song to reach Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100 Chart. ENIOLA OYEMOLADE writes on this remarkable feat by the afropop singer.
Wizkid’s afropop song, Essence, featuring Tems and Justin Bieber, in its 14th week on the chart, has become the first African song to reach Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
The song was released on August 13, 2021, almost one year after the original song was released on October 30, 2020, with the music video, shot in Accra, Ghana, released on April 9, 2021.
In addition to being the first African song to reach Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100 Chart, it is also the first African song to chart on the Billboard Global 200.
Carl Lamarre, one of the Billboard staff who spoke on the song, noted that the song rates 9.5 on the musical and cultural importance of the song going top 10, especially with the fact that the album in which the song originally featured in, Made in Lagos, dropped October 2020.
“So, the fact that people were so late to the party on the album and ‘Essence’ is beyond criminal. And in some respects, it’s even more disrespectful that so many needed a Bieber appearance for people to appreciate the richness of ‘Essence’. Either way, I think this record propelling into the national spotlight bodes well for a rising genre looking to makes waves on American soil.”
Heran Mamo said, “This is 10-level monumental. Two singer-songwriters from Lagos, Nigeria are putting Afrobeats on the map after the song’s year-long global expedition to the top 10 region of the all-genre tally. And with ‘Essence’ containing Yoruba and Nigerian pidgin lyrics, it exposes casual listeners to the sheer essence (pun intended) of Afropop and its intimate moments that are similar to what’s heard in R&B.”
Mamo also noted that the chemistry between Wizkid and Tems on the track, which has a sensual, feel-good vibe to it, is one the reasons it reached heights that no other Afropop single has in the country.
“Down to the core of ‘Essence’, the song’s structure of a man and woman intimately singing about longing to be with one another is a song we’ve all heard before, regardless of how it sounds or what dialect it’s sung in.”
Jason Lipshutz added that the combination of the toasty production, inviting hook and pitch-perfect interplay between Wizkid and Tems turn ‘Essence’ into the type of song that’s difficult to dislike, or play once and let drift out of memory.
He added that he has played ‘Essence’ driving around in the daytime, before falling asleep, in a party playlist and during dinner with his wife. “It works everywhere. That’s usually a good sign for a slow-growing hit to keep climbing.”
On which of the two artists they think is more likely to return to the top 10 in the near future, Heran Mamo said, “With Wizkid now securing stateside smash hits with the help of two Canadian superstars, his music moving forward will enter more global territories and higher chart positions, including a highly likely return to the top 10. But I’m still betting on Tems…”
Neena Rouhani said, “I think they’re neck and neck. Obviously Wizkid has been around far longer than Tems and is a superstar in his own right, but Tems has been doing her thing, too.”
This is Wizkid’s second time of appearing on the Billboard chart, the first time being as a featured artist alongside Kyla on Canadian singer Drake’s ‘One Dance’, which was a 10-week Hot 100-topper in 2016.
It›s the first appearance of any kind for the song›s original featured guest, singer and songwriter Tems, and the 25th for Canadian pop superstar Justin Bieber, a late addition for the song›s remix.
After the song’s initial release in 2020, it dominated the mainstream, charting in various global charts. The song was included on Spotify’s Song of the Summer playlist in June 2021. Former president of United States, Barrack Obama, also listed ‘Essence’ as part of his favourite songs for 2020.
Generating attention of American celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, Rihanna, Toni Braxton, DojaCat, Swae Lee, Kylie Jenner, Snoop Dogg, Kevin Hart, among others, ‘Essence’ became popular with the American audience earlier this year.
On August 31, 2021, ‘Essence’ was announced as the most shazamed song in the United States of America, and just recently, the song reached platinum status barely a month after it was certified gold in the US.
According to the BRITS Certified Awards website, songs are awarded platinum status when they achieve 600,000 units of sales. The records are awarded the gold status for 400,000 units and silver for 200,000 units, but this would be based on Official Charts Company data.
Wizkid had told Tems, “I love you, baby girl, you’re a superstar. This is your time. This is your moment. This is your time and moment and the world needs to hear this because it is special to me.”
He continued, “We have a Platinum record and I just want to say thank you to everyone involved in this, from Tems to the producers, Legendary beats, these are my brothers from way back. I want to say we made a good beat.
“Thanks to the whole team for believing in the dreams from early, to my fans I appreciate you all and I pray God blesses all of you.”
Made in Lagos is Wizkid’s fourth studio album.
The 31-year-old with real name Ayodeji Balogun, rose to the limelight after releasing ‘Holla at Your Boy’, the lead single from his debut studio album, Superstar in 2011.