The VMAs Add an Afrobeats Category, Following the Lead of the AMAs & Grammys – Billboard

The MTV Video Music Awards are adding a new category this year – best Afrobeats. The Grammys are adding a similar category, best African music performance, this year (for the awards that will be presented on Feb. 4, 2024). The American Music Awards were the first major music awards show to add such a category. They added favorite Afrobeats artist at the show that aired on Nov. 20, 2022. Wizkid was the inaugural winner, beating Burna Boy, CKay, Fireboy DML and Tems.

The apparent front-runner for best Afrobeats at the VMAs is Rema & Selena Gomez’s “Calm Down,” which is nominated in two other categories, best song and best collaboration. “Calm Down” has been a giant crossover hit, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song dips a notch to No. 6 in its 49th week on the Hot 100, as it spends a seventh week atop Radio Songs.

Ayra Starr has two nominations in the VMAs’ best Afrobeats category – for her own “Rush” and as the featured artist on Wizkid’s “2 Sugar.”

The other nominees in the category are Burna Boy’s “It’s Plenty,” Davido featuring Musa Keys’ “Unavailable,” Fireboy DML & Asake’s “Bandana” and Libianca’s “People.”

Best Afrobeats is the third genre-specific category to be added at the VMAs in this century, following Latin (2006) and K-pop (2019). The VMAs’ five other genre-specific categories were all introduced in the last century — rock (1989), alternative (1991), R&B (1993), and pop and hip-hop (both 1999).

The Grammy nominations will be announced on Nov. 10, at which time we’ll learn the nominees in their new best African music performance category.

The Recording Academy announced the category (one of three being added this year) on June 13. The Rules and Guidelines for the upcoming 66th Annual Grammy Awards describes the category thusly: “Eligible recordings include vocal and instrumental performances with strong elements of African cultural significance that blend a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content and/or musical representation found in Africa and the African Diaspora. The African Diaspora is the worldwide collection of communities descended from native Africans or people from Africa, predominantly in the Americas.”

The 2023 VMAs will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT live from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

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