A year after the launch of the Billboard Global Excl. U.S. and Billboard Global 200 charts, we may have found the most global hit yet. Nigeria’s CKay debuts on both lists at Nos. 21 and 30, respectively, with “Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah).”
The Afrobeat sleeper hit drew 27.8 million streams and sold 1,200 downloads worldwide in the week ending Sept. 16, up 257% and 404%, respectively, according to MRC Data. The bursts follow two years of buzzing interest on the back of several international collaborations and remixes.
Since its arrival on CKay’s set CKay the First in August 2019, the song has flown around the world and back, with official North African, East African and South African remixes, plus versions in German, French, Spanish and Italian, all featuring collaborators from each corresponding region or country.
“Love Nwantiti” follows a similar path to wide global exposure as another recent breakthrough by two Nigerian acts. Wizkid’s “Essence” debuted on the Global 200 in July, with a feature by Tems. With radio airplay steadily rising, a new version sporting a verse from Justin Bieber shot it further up the chart (to No. 28 in late August) and led to a debut on the Global Excl. U.S. chart in August.
But while Wizkid has focused on one remix featuring an international superstar, CKay has made his play for worldwide success by deploying multiple regional acts to infiltrate global audiences, one corner of the world at a time. Plus, a slew of dancers and choreographers have taken to “Love Nwantiti” on TikTok.
Streams and sales in the latest tracking week for “Love Nwantiti” skew 86% and 79% outside the United States, respectively, compared to averages of 26% and 46% for all titles, with its barrage of international remixes providing perhaps the easiest explanation for its reach.
A larger stateside crossover could be ahead for CKay. While only 14% of the song’s global streams in the latest tracking frame were from America, far below the week’s average, the share has crept from 11% a week ago and 10% the week before.