Why the Nigerian Music Industry needs to lose more Grammys
This article seeks to explain why Nigerian artists, fans, and the music industry should direct more focus on losing the Grammy rather than complaining about the losses.
On Sunday, 5th February 2023, Burna Boy failed to pick up any of his two nominations at the 65th Grammy awards. It was his 4th Grammy loss in 4 years, in which period he garnered 4 nominations as a lead artist. While many of his fans felt he was slighted by the academy, this writer believes the losses aren’t enough.
Where we are coming from: 10 years ago, it was inconceivable for Nigerians to lose their heads over the Grammy awards as the Nigerian music industry had no stake in it. Things are however very different in 2023 as Nigerian music stars are beginning to become recurring actors in the global categories.
The only Nigerian who was able to get the Grammy nod in the 2000s and 2010s is the legendary Femi Kuti whose globally celebrated Afrobeat music earned him nominations for the World Album Category in 2022, 2009, 2011, and 2013. He would go on to lose every single nomination but his inclusion carried significant value for Nigerian music as it inspired hope that the industry would someday produce a Grammy winner.
Where we are: If there was a list of Nigerian mainstream (Afrobeats) artists with the talent to bring home a Grammy award, Burna Boy would rank high on such a list. And it was the supremely talented superstar who made history by becoming the first Afrobeats artist to be nominated for the Grammys in 2020 for his 4th album ‘African Giant’.
While he lost the nomination to the global icon Angelique Kidjo, the nod allowed him to have one foot in the door, and with his 5th album ‘Twice As Tall’, he kicked the door open by bringing home the Grammy. Since then, Nigerian megastar Wizkid has earned two nominations for his album ‘Made In Lagos’ and hit single ‘Essence’.
Between 2020 to 2023 Nigerian artists Burna Boy, Wizkid, Tems, Made Kuti, and Femi Kuti has earned 11 nominations between themselves in the Global Music Categories.
In comparison between 2000 – 2020, the Nigerian music industry had 5 nominations with Femi Kuti’s 4 nods and Seun Kuti’s 2019 nomination.
Outside the Global categories, Wizkid has earned two nominations. One for Drake’s ‘One Dance’ which was one of the singles on Album of the Year nominated ‘Views’ and the other in 2021 for Best Music Video for Beyonce’s ‘Brown Skin Girl’ which he won.
Burna Boy has earned one nomination as a featured artist on Justin Bieber’s ‘Justice’ Album of the Year nominated project.
Tems also has 3 nominations with Future’s ‘Wait For U’ for Best Melodic rap Performance which she won and Best rap song, Beyonce’s Album of the Year nominated ‘Renaissance’.
When all the categories are considered the Nigerian music industry has garnered 22 nominations since 2000 with 16 of those nominations and the three wins coming after 2020.
Nigerian music is now at a point when mainstream artists are joining the traditional Afrobeat acts in competing for the biggest prize in music. There’s no other music industry on the African continent that can boast of the same.
Why the losses aren’t enough: The Nigerian music industry has won 3 of its 23 nominations since 2000 (Wizkid for ‘Brown Skin Girl’ & Tems for ‘Wait For U’) with only Burna Boy’s 2020 ‘Twice As Tall’ win coming as a lead artist. While this is a paltry figure, it shows the current growth in the industry and the need for more artists to compete and grow the nominations list.
Nigerian artists and fans must understand that while it hurts to lose awards, throwing tantrums on social media or embarking on an embarrassing rant as we saw with does the industry no good.
Nigerian artists must be prepared to raise their quality and continue to compete for the eligible categories in the spirit of growing the nominations list which will invariably lead to more losses.
The entitlement that we must win every award because Afrobeats songs are far more popular than that of its competitors is an illusion. Any reader with a basic understanding of the Grammys knows that popularity doesn’t play a significant part and is even sometimes a demerit.
So, while it hurts to lose, the Nigerian music industry should be excited at the prospect of more losses. Beyonce is the joint most-nominated artist in Grammy history with 88 nominations and also the most awarded with 34 awards. She has lost more than half of her total nominations.
So dear Nigerian artists and fans, wipe your tears and cease the tantrums. 14 nominations as lead artists since 2000 isn’t a number that should create entitlement or pride.
The industry is growing and it’s time to lose some more Grammys.