The VMAs Embrace Afrobeats: Following AMAs & Grammys, a New Category Emerges

The VMAs Embrace Afrobeats: Following AMAs & Grammys, a New Category Emerges

The music industry is witnessing a significant shift towards recognizing the global influence of Afrobeats, as the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) announce the addition of a new category – Best Afrobeats. This move follows the footsteps of other major music awards shows like the American Music Awards (AMAs) and the Grammys, which have also introduced categories dedicated to African music.


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The Best Afrobeats category at the VMAs comes as a nod to the genre’s growing impact and popularity. The Grammys introduced a similar category, Best African Music Performance, scheduled for the awards ceremony on February 4, 2024. The AMAs made history by adding the “Favorite Afrobeats Artist” category during their broadcast on November 20, 2022. Wizkid clinched the inaugural win, triumphing over contenders like Burna Boy, CKay, Fireboy DML, and Tems.

A strong contender for the Best Afrobeats category at the VMAs is “Calm Down” by Rema & Selena Gomez. The song has also secured nominations in the Best Song and Best Collaboration categories. “Calm Down” has achieved remarkable crossover success, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It continues to maintain its popularity, currently at No. 6 on the Hot 100 in its 49th week and has spent a notable seven weeks atop the Radio Songs chart.

Ayra Starr has scored two nominations in the Best Afrobeats category at the VMAs. She is recognized for her own track “Rush” and her feature on Wizkid’s “2 Sugar.”

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

The Best Afrobeats category becomes the third genre-specific addition at the VMAs in the 21st century, following the introductions of Latin (2006) and K-pop (2019) categories. The VMAs previously introduced five genre-specific categories in the last century, including rock (1989), alternative (1991), R&B (1993), and pop and hip-hop (both 1999).

As anticipation builds, the Grammy nominations are set to be revealed on November 10, unveiling the nominees for the newly established Best African Music Performance category. The Recording Academy unveiled this category, among three others, on June 13. The description for the category reflects its inclusivity of various African cultural elements and influences.

The 2023 VMAs are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, September 12, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, live from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. This celebration promises to showcase the global diversity and unity of music.

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