With the 66th Grammy Award Ceremony on the horizon, the focus of the Nigerian and the continent’s entertainment lens has been shifted to the newly created Best African Music Performance category at the premier global music profile award.
The maiden category would have been an all-Nigerian affair but for the inclusion of ‘Water’ by South Africa’s Tyla.
With hours to the Grammy Award Premiere Ceremony at the Peacock Theatre in Los Angeles, DAILY POST takes a look at the chances of each of the nominees in the inaugural Best African Music Performance category.
Rush – Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr’s Grammy nomination is unique in some ways: ‘Rush’ was nominated in the maiden Best African Music Performance category despite not being released within the eligibility frame – a rare exception in the Grammys.
Also, Ayra Starr became the youngest Nigerian to bag a Grammy nomination at the age of 21.
With the Grammys known for surprises, especially in new or main categories, some music buffs are forecasting that a female winner will emerge in the newly created Best African Music Performance category, with the odds favouring Ayra Starr and Tyla.
‘Rush’s lyrical depth and overall vocal delivery and performance would also boost the song’s chances of lifting the gramophone for the Best African Music Performance category.
Despite its groovy beats, ‘Rush’ still boasts of great lyrical content. The song is about succeeding despite opposition and naysayers.
In a recent interview, Ayra Starr disclosed that she had already prepared her Grammy acceptance speech and outfit.
Amapiano – Asake feat. Olamide
‘Amapiano’ is the only song largely sung in an African language (Yoruba), out of the five songs nominated in the maiden Best African Music Performance category.
The featured artist, Olamide also became the first African rapper to be nominated for a Grammy.
The song finds the artists exchanging slick boasts in Pidgin and Yoruba. Asake delivers his flows on well-arranged Amapiano progressions, fused with other hip-hop elements and even orchestral symphony. Olamide’s smooth rap slides in like icing on the cake, the result is a fascinating piece of melody.
Some pundits are tipping the song to take home the gramophone for the Best African Music Performance, given the meteoric of the Amapiano genre and the artist, Asake.
Tonight might be the main man, Asake’s date with history.
City Boys – Burna Boy
Burna Boy is the only nominee in the maiden Best African Music Performance category who is not a first-time nominee.
‘City Boys’ is one of his four nominations at the 66th Grammys. Others are: ‘Sittin’ On Top of The World’ feat. 21 Savage – Best Melodic Rap-, ‘I Told Them’ – Best Global Music Album, and ‘Alone’ – Best Global Music Performance.
Burna Boy is the first African artist to earn a Grammy nomination in five consecutive years (2019-2023).
‘City Boys’ remains the song to beat in the Best African Music Performance category given the rich lyrical and vocal delivery, and also Burna Boy’s Grammy pedigree.
Moreover, Burna Boy has been announced as a performer at the 66th Grammys. Although he will be performing at the main event, at the Crypto.com Arena (also known as the Staples Center), and not the Grammys pre-show at the Peacock Theatre where the Best African Music Performance category would be presented, the Grammys have been accustomed to performing artists winning at least one of the categories they are nominated in.
Unavailable – Davido feat. Musa Keys
‘Unavailable’ stands out as one of the favourites to claim the gramophone for the maiden Best African Music Performance category. Its lyrical depth and Zulu-themed video which made it the only nominated song with African-styled visuals are some of the factors that have favoured previous winners in the world/global music categories at the Grammys.
Although Davido has also been nominated in two other categories: Timeless’ – Best Global Music Album, and ‘Feel’ – Best Global Music Performance, ‘Unavailable’ is his best bet toward winning a first Grammy.
American prediction site, Early4Cast predicted ‘Unavailable’ by Davido featuring Musa Keys to clinch the Best African Music Performance award at the 66th Grammys.
Water – Tyla
Some may argue that South African singer, Tyla’s ‘Water’ has no element of Africanity in it except for the Afrobeats beat and Amapiano long drums. However, the song seamlessly fits into the definition of the newly created Best African Music Performance category by the Grammys.
According to the Recording Academy, The Grammy “Best African Music Performance” category is open to both contemporary and traditional music from the African continent including Afrobeats, Afro-pop, Amapiano, High Life, Fuji, etc.
The song is inarguably the most popular among the five nominated songs in the category, but popularity only does not win a Grammy as the Grammy does not consider sales and charts but quality music.
Despite being a song about sexual urges, ‘Water’ is a quality tune and would contest with the other nominated songs on the strength of that and not its popularity stateside.
The factor that may work for Tyla against her co-contenders, is the observation by some music buffs that the Grammy voters tend to favour South African nominees over other Africans.
Whatever happens tonight, an African will make history and open doors for more African Grammy winners.