Would Nigeria’s superstar, Burna Boy, win the Best International Act at the 2021 Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards for the third time in a row, when the show holds next month? Or would it be Wizkid, who now sits as the most nominated African artiste with six nominations and three wins?
It is a tough call to make between the two Grammy-winning stars, and even a tougher one with the array of artistes contesting the same award. With the BET awards debuting this category in 2010, many Africans have been selected based on their achievements for the particular year in review and not just old glory.
With his massive global acclaim trailing his 2019 and 2020 studio albums, Burna Boy clinched the last two awards. Now, with the buffet of albums and activities unrolled by artistes during the pandemic, last year, the duel is more intense.
Apart from Wizkid and Diamond Platinumz of East Africa, the Latinos, French and English are making a fierce run for the title. 26-year-old French-Malian pop singer, Aya Nakamura, who has also been described as the most popular French-speaking artiste abroad, charged her way through 2020 with the release of her third album, dubbed Aya, which has already won Best Urban Album award at the France Music awards, as well as clinch two diamond certifications in France. Her French counterpart, Youssoupha, who currently sits at the heart of criticism amid Far-right political spectators in France, is another rapper who has remained relevant enough to represent France at this auspicious award.
On the Latino front, Emicida, also wore his boots to the high table, clinching a Grammy award for his 2020 album, ‘AmarElo’, which was the start of a stellar year for the 35-year-old rapper.
The Londoners are not too far off as Young T and Bugsey (who is also of Nigerian heritage), also had one of the biggest viral songs of the pandemic. Their single Don’t Rush dominated not just tiktok and Instagram challenges, but also peaked at the US 100 Billboard Chart at no 56, while also crossing several markets to be certified Gold in the US and France.
With this array of singers and their award-winning discography, will the stellar works of Burna Boy in Twice as Tall, or of Wizkid in Made in Lagos be strong enough to pull through? While Made in Lagos was more celebrated than most of the other titles under review, Twice as Tall remains the most critically acclaimed and impactful work.