The newly established Best African Music Performance category at the prestigious global Music Profile award has taken center stage in Nigerian and African entertainment circles as the 66th Grammy Awards Ceremony approaches.

If Tyla from South Africa hadn’t added “Water,” the maiden category would have been exclusively composed of Nigerian contestants.

ZINGTIE examines the prospects of each nominee in the first-ever Best African Music Performance category as the Grammy Award Premiere Ceremony approaches at the Peacock Theatre in Los Angeles in a matter of hours.

Rush – Ayra Starr

In many aspects, Ayra Starr’s Grammy nomination is exceptional: “Rush” received a nomination in the inaugural Best African Music Performance category even though it wasn’t released inside the eligibility period—a very uncommon occurrence at the Grammy Awards.

At 21, Ayra Starr also made history by being the youngest Nigerian to receive a Grammy nomination.

Some music enthusiasts predict that a female winner will emerge in the newly minted Best African Music Performance category, with the odds favoring Ayra Starr and Tyla. The Grammys are infamous for shocks, especially in new or main categories.

Rush’s entire vocal ability and delivery, together with the depth of the lyrics, will help the song stand a better chance of winning Best African Music ability.

Even with its funky beats, “Rush” has excellent lyrical depth. The message of the song is overcoming doubters and resistance to succeed.

Ayra Starr said in a recent interview that she had prepared her Grammy acceptance speech and dress beforehand.

Amapiano – Asake feat. Olamide

Of the five songs nominated in the first Best African Music Performance category, “Amapiano” is the only one primarily sung in Yoruba, an African language.

Olamide, the featured musician, was also the first rapper from Africa to receive a Grammy nomination.

In the song, the performers trade sly jabs in Yoruba and Pidgin. Asake performs his lines over masterfully composed Amapiano progressions mixed with symphonic symphonies and other hip-hop components. Like frosting on a cake, Olamide’s silky lyricism seamlessly blends in to create an intriguing tune.

Given the rise of the Amapiano genre and the popularity of the musician Asake, some critics believe the song will win the Grammy for Best African Music Performance.

Perhaps Asake, the leading man, will meet history tonight.

City Boys – Burna Boy

Burna Boy is the only contender in the first Best African Music Performance category, not a first-time recipient.

One of his four nominations for the 66th Grammy Awards is “City Boys.” The others are “Alone” (best global music performance), “I Told Them” (best international music album), and “Sittin’ On Top of the World” (best melodic rap) featuring 21 Savage.

In five years (2019–2023), Burna Boy is the first African artist to receive a Grammy nomination.

Given Burna Boy’s Grammy history, the song “City Boys” remains the front-runner in the Best African Music Performance category due to its powerful vocal delivery and lyrics.

In addition, Burna Boy’s performance at the 66th Grammy Awards has been confirmed. The Grammys are used to performing artists winning at least one of the categories they are nominated in, even though he will be performing at the main event, which takes place at the Arena (also known as the Staples Center), rather than the pre-show at the Peacock Theatre, where the Best African Music Performance category would be presented.

Unavailable – Davido feat. Musa Keys

One of the favorites to take home the first-ever Best African Music Performance Grammy is “Unavailable.” Some elements that have favored previous winners in the world/global music categories at the Grammys are its lyrical profundity and the Zulu-themed video, making it the only nominated song with African-styled visuals.

Davido is best-positioned to win his first Grammy even though he is also nominated in two other categories: “Unavailable” for Best Global Music Performance and “Timeless” for Best Global Music Album.

The 66th Grammy Awards’ Best African Music Performance winner, “Unavailable,” by Davido featuring Musa Keys, was predicted by the American prediction website Early4Cast.

Water – Tyla

Some would contend that the Afrobeats beat and Amapiano lengthy drums are the only aspects of South African artist Tyla’s song “Water” that is African. Nonetheless, the song easily conforms to the guidelines of the recently established Grammy Award category for Best African Music Performance.

The Recording Academy states that African music, including Afrobeats, Afro-pop, Amapiano, High Life, Fuji, and other genres, is eligible for consideration in the Grammy “Best African Music Performance” category.

Though the song is undoubtedly the most well-known of the five nominees in the category, popularity alone will not bring home a Grammy; instead, great music—rather than sales and charts—will be honored.

Though it is a song about sexual desires, “Water” has a great melody and would compete with the other nominated songs based on that rather than its widespread appeal in the United States.

The finding by some music enthusiasts that Grammy voters tend to favor South African nominees over other Africans is one aspect that could work in Tyla’s favor against her fellow hopefuls.

An African will create history tonight, whatever happens, and this will pave the way for many African Grammy winners.

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