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2024 Grammy Awards: Nigerians React After Losing Out

By Patience Chat Moses

It was a disappointing outing for Nigerian artists, none of whom bagged an award at the just concluded Grammy Awards ceremony held at the Peacock Theatre in Los Angeles, United States, on the 4th of February, 2024.

In November 2023, over eight Nigerian artists were nominated ahead of the 66th edition of the Academy Awards.

 David Adeleke, aka, Davido; Damini Ogulu, aka Burna Boy; Ahmed Ololade, aka Asake; Olamide Adedeji, aka Baddo; Oyinkansola Aderibigbe, aka Ayra Starr; Chukwuka Ekweani aka Ckay; Adedamola Oyinlola Adefolahan aka Fireboy DML; and Temilade Openiy aka Tems and Divine Ikubor aka Rema, who  were nominated lost out of the Grammy in their combined 10 nominations across different award categories.

In reaction to this, Nigerians took to social media platforms to express their disappointment in the outcome of the awards.

Davido lost three categories with ‘Feel’ nominated for the Best Global Music Performance category, ‘ Timeless’ nominated for the Album of the Year category, and his ‘Unavailable’ nominated for Best African Music Performance.

Burna Boy lost four with the artiste’s song ‘Alone’ lost to the trio of Zakir Hussain, Bela Fleck and Edgar Myer’s song ‘Pashto’, which won the Global Music Performance category.

The second award lost by the Nigerian artiste was the Best African Music Performance category, which was won by South Africa’s female rapper, Tyla. Her song, ‘Water’ saw off competition from Burna’s ‘City Boys.’

Third on the list was the Best Melodic Rap Performance category, won by American rappers Lil Durk and J Cole.

Their song titled ‘All My Life’ was rated above ‘Sittin’ On Top of the World’ by Burna Boy and 21 Savage. Burna Boy lost his fourth nomination – Best Global Music Album.

Countering the choice of the awards winners, music producers, artists, songwriters, and fans have taken to social media platforms to vent their reactions about the recording academy’s choice.

The fact that Fela’s ‘Water’ was used as a background song to announce South African artiste Laura Seethal, popularly known as Tyla, winner of Best African Music Performance, was considered disrespectful by Nigerians. Nigerians saw Fela’s evergreen record, ‘Water No Get Enemy’ that came up instead of Tyla’s mid-tempo tune “Water” as inappropriate.

Fans argued that this gave the impression that the organizers did not even know the song they had judged to be the best of African music performances, while others saw this as a mockery to Nigerian music legend Fela.

Reacting to this, a self-acclaimed Afrobeats ambassador, Adesope, popularly known as Shopsydoo, said it was clear that the Grammy Recording Academy was only taking advantage of Nigerian artistes by making their award trend and popular with the nominated stars for the African continent category.

He added, “They used Davido for their platform marketing strategy and dumped him.”

The podcaster further advised African artists to stop submitting their songs to the recording academy, adding, “Why would they be playing Fela’s ‘Water’ while Tyla’s ‘Water’ won an award for a category they claimed to know well?

This particular incident at the Academy Awards was responsible for instigating the online crisis between Nigerians and South Africa after Nigeria beat them to qualify for the finals at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Another controversy which came up was in the category of the Best Global Music Album that had Epifanías by Susana Baca, History by Bokanté,’ I Told Them’ by Burna Boy, ‘This Moment’ by Shakti, and Timeless by Davido with ‘This Moment’ winning the category.

Online checks by Valuechain revealed that the winning song, ‘This Moment’ by Shakti released on June 23, 2023, had so far scooped less than 100 thousand views in total, the highest stream, Shrini’s Dream only has 20 thousand views since seven months ago. On the other hand, Davido’s ‘Timeless’ amassed close to 100 million streams in ten months of its release and Burna Boy scooped more than 50 million streams with his ‘I Told Them’ on YouTube.

However, explaining how awards are given, the recording academy said, “Musicians, singers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and others who have made an impact in the industry make up the voting members; Every voting member is entitled to cast their votes in the four general categories: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist; In other categories, voters cast ballots only in their areas of expertise like pop, rock, hip-hop, country, jazz, classical, etc.”.

In both voting rounds, Academy members are required to vote solely based on quality, without consideration for sales, chart performance, personal friendships, regional preferences or company loyalty.”

Despite the outburst of anger from fans, artists involved still took out time to celebrate their colleagues who emerged winners.