How Burna Boy’s ‘Last Last’ Conquered Hip-Hop Radio

Over the past several years, Burna Boy has grown into a legitimate international star, with each of his last three albums achieving higher and higher slots on the Billboard 200 and his 2021 album, Twice As Tall, winning a Grammy for best global music album. And as his music has grown in popularity in the U.S., he’s been able to reach new milestones like selling out Madison Square Garden, which he did earlier this year. But one aspect of stardom had until recently eluded him: U.S. radio airplay.

That has changed over the past few weeks, as his single “Last Last” from his latest album Love, Damini has begun climbing the Billboard radio charts. And this week, it has finally crowned one of them, having reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart, a testament to the work put in by his label Atlantic Records. And it helps earn Atlantic’s executive vp of black music promotion Kevin Holiday the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.


Here, Holiday explains the strategy that brought a song that was originally released in May to the top of the airplay charts in October. “Radio is a long game, and it takes time for records to organically connect with an audience,” he says.

This week, Burna Boy’s “Last Last” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. What key decision did you make to help make that happen?

The key decision was to ask urban radio to collectively move in one direction at the same time. Another crucial decision was making sure we highlighted all the latest and greatest information on Burna Boy the week prior to achieving the No. 1. These decisions put us in position to attain our goal.

The song has not just reached the top of that chart, but it’s also climbing the all-format Radio Songs chart, reaching a new peak of No. 24 this week. How are you expanding its airplay audience?

The regions with the highest populations aid the growth in audience airplay. With that said, we are expanding Burna’s airplay audience by targeting the major markets, in hopes they play the record more.

The song has been out for five months now, since first being released in May. Why is it climbing and peaking at radio now?

It takes some time to get folks on the same page and increase airplay. Radio is a long game, and it takes time for records to organically connect with an audience.

Last year, Wizkid‘s “Essence” broke through on U.S. radio, opening up a lane for music by African artists that hadn’t really existed before. How has that changed what’s possible for Burna at radio?

Wizkid helped reshape the sound of traditional U.S. radio from just playing American hip-hop and R&B records. Burna Boy’s music has a grassroots structure of R&B mixed with a “feel good” vibe, which doesn’t completely break the boundaries of the music played within the formats. Ultimately, the possibilities are endless for Burna Boy.

Recently, we’ve seen songs make inroads at pop radio with a pop artist remix. Is that something you guys are exploring? What could that do for a song like “Last Last”?

Although “Last Last” is perfect as is, a pop remix can give a different twist and widen the audience. As of now, I believe there are no plans for such a remix… But never say never!

How can success at radio like this help boost Burna Boy’s career moving forward?

As U.S. radio continues to create global superstars, the sky is the limit for Burna Boy and his future endeavors. We are just getting started!

Dan Rys