See The Reactions To The American Music Awards & Its New Afrobeats Category

here's what the people are saying

A lot has been said about the Afrobeats to the World movement. For musicians and their fan bases, rubbing shoulders with global music figures holds a very tantalising prospect. For others, mostly business professionals in the industry, they had considerably lesser faith about the Westernisation of Afrobeats, especially considering how the term wasn’t designed with the intricacies of African music in mind. 

That growing desire to include Afrobeats in global selling points reached a new high last week when the American Music Awards announced a new category for Afrobeats in the forthcoming award ceremony. The conversation was rather concise, because it was only a few weeks ago, at the Ghana-held Global Citizens Festival when the Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason Jr. revealed that the festival was consulting with relevant parties about the Grammys’ plan to carve out an Afrobeats category.

It seems that the American Music Awards has put this in place first, ahead of their next iteration next month. Among the nominations this year includes a talented spate of Afropop artists such as Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tems, CKay and Fireboy DML who were recognised by AMA under the “Favourite Afrobeats Artists,” category, which has inevitably spurred a lot of conversation over the past few days.

Let’s get into them, shall we?

Obviously, the AMA establishing an Afrobeats category is considered a good thing by many, but should an all-Nigerian representation be the typical? There’s no doubt the West African country is making perhaps the finest Afropop music right now, but what happens when the needle shift, and somewhere else (maybe not even in Africa) takes the flag? I don’t know much about the politics of geography, but I do know it’s barely right to focus solely at the zenith of a mountain without recognising the similarly important contributions of smaller influences which surround it.

All five artists recognised in the newly-helmed category are equally brilliant and talented in their own regard, however can it be said that they represent the vast terrain of Afrobeats as it is now known. Many fear that the new category will fall victim to the one-size fits all approach that is taken for “World Music.” It’s quite telling that media personalities in the diaspora are picking up on how the Nigerian dominance is essentially leading to the gentrification of African music – soon, we might be thinking that anything that doesn’t sound Nigerian isn’t “proper” Afrobeats.

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