The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), famed for recognising the best in the music video medium, has this year introduced a new category in their annual awards: Best Afrobeats. This addition comes in response to the rising global popularity of the Afrobeats genre, and several international award shows including Afrobeats genre anong’s their nominee lists.
The 2023 VMAs nominees for the newly minted ‘Best Afrobeats’ category include a dazzling array of African artists who’ve made significant strides on the global scene in the year in review. The nominees are:
Ayra Starr for “Rush”
The Nigerian singer-songwriter has gained a massive global fanbase with her unique blend of Afrobeats and soul. “Rush” is a testament to her vocal prowess and her ability to create a song that resonates with fans worldwide despite the famous chorus of the song written and voiced in Pidgin English.
Burna Boy for “It’s Plenty”
Known for his distinctive fusion of Afrobeats, dancehall, and reggae, the ‘Big 7’ singer has had an explosive impact on the global music scene on streaming platforms and on international stages. His nomination for ‘It’s Plenty’ underscores his continued relevance and appeal.
Davido ft. Musa Keys for “Unavailable”
An Afrobeats powerhouse, Davido’s collaboration with South African artist Musa Keys on ‘Unavailable’ from his last album has drawn international acclaim making the song ‘Timeless’. With its catchy lyrics and special dance moves, the song is a reflection of the growing interconnectedness of the global Afrobeats scene.
Fireboy DML & Asake for ‘Bandana’
Fireboy DML and Asake have both gained recognition for their ability to blend traditional Afrobeats sounds with contemporary pop. “Bandana” is a testament to the YBNL duo’s combined talent and has found a massive following globally.
Libianca for ‘People’
A rising star in the Afrobeats world, Libianca’s ‘People’ is a track that has taken the world by storm, proving her place among the top Afrobeats artists with its infectious rhythm and global appeal.
Rema & Selena Gomez for ‘Calm Down’
The unexpected yet harmonious collaboration between Nigerian artist Rema and international pop star Selena Gomez in “Calm Down” has drawn global attention, marking a significant milestone in the integration of Afrobeats into mainstream pop music. The song has gained its place among the charts in the US and is poised to be a strong contender to win the inaugural category.
Wizkid ft. Ayra Starr for ‘2 Sugar’
As one of the pioneers of the Afrobeats sound, Wizkid’s nomination for ‘2 Sugar’ a collaboration with fellow nominee Ayra Starr, is a testament to his long-lasting impact on the genre and his continued relevance on the global stage. Being one of the most popular names among the list the nomination could see him win another first of an Afrobeats international award category.
The introduction of the ‘Best Afrobeats’ category at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards is a significant acknowledgement of the genre’s influence and popularity worldwide. It is a testament to the power of music to break barriers, transcend borders, and bring people together.
Taylor Swift and SZA lead the pack with eight and six nominations each. Both were recognised in the Video of the Year category, for “Anti-Hero” and “Kill Bill,” respectively. Trailing them are Doja Cat, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Olivia Rodrigo, and Sam Smith and Kim Petras, all of whom are tied with five nominations.
There are 35 artists who are first-time nominees this year, including Boygenius, GloRilla, Ice Spice, PinkPantheress, Flo Milli, Reneé Rapp, and Peso Pluma, among others. The ceremony takes place on September 12 at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center. Check out all the nominations below.