AFRIMA 2021 and the battle for ‘Artiste of the Year’

It is less than one month to the seventh edition of the much-anticipated All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) 2021, and votes from fans have long been stacking up for all 38 categories created to celebrate the best of African music. AFRIMA 2021 holds at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, Nigeria from November 19-21 with live broadcast to 84 television stations in 109 countries.

Public voting is ongoing and ends on Saturday, November 20, 2021 on AFRIMA’s website. Tickets to the music festival coming up on Friday, November 19, and the award on Sunday, November 21 will be on sale on AFRIMA website from Sunday, October 31.

The ‘Artiste of the Year’ category is one juicy nomination that, like the midas touch, if wielded by any artiste has the power to turn almost every situation into gold. This year is quite interesting as it is not just a battle of the greats, but a battle that infuses some of the most prominent voices ever in Africa’s music scene. Past winners in the ‘Artiste of the Year’ category are Davido (Nigeria – 2014); Diamond Platnum (Tanzania – 2015); Wizkid (Nigeria – 2016); Wizkid (Nigeria -2017); Davido (Nigeria – 2018); and Burna Boy (Nigeria- 2019).

Take a look at some of the favourites for the ‘Artiste of the Year’ category because  this year, it is a continental battle;

  • Focalistic (South Africa)

Pretorian-bred Amapiano Prince, Lethabo Sebetso, popular as Focalistic, is no strange name to African music lovers. The 25-year-old singer has been one of the biggest exports of Amapiano for the past few years. Asides getting an RIAA gold certification for his recent smash hit, ‘Ke Star remix’ (featuring Davido), Focalistic’s sounds have sound tracked the entire summer of 2021.

And this is the sound that is pushing the singer as one of the most acclaimed African acts in a single year. Apart from his nomination in the ‘Artiste of the Year’ category, Focalistic also has six other nominations making him one of the most nominated artistes in AFRIMA 2021.

  • Burna Boy (Nigeria)

Perhaps being touted as the ‘African Giant’ is no longer enough description for Damini Ogulu, better known as Burna Boy. The Rivers State indigene is not just a Grammy-winning singer, but also one of Africa’s biggest musical exploits since Fela Kuti. The 30-year-old has a very mature and hit-laden discography that stirs both hearts and feet, with political satires, love narratives, and party groove.

When it comes to making music with an attitude, Burna Boy, remains at the front guard. Burna Boy won the coveted ‘Artiste of the Year’ award as well as ‘Best Male Artiste in Western Africa’ award in 2019. In the 2021 edition of awards, he also has nominations in the ‘Best Male Artiste in Western Africa’ and ‘Album of the Year’ categories.

  • Davido (Nigeria)

Another page-turner in the records book of Afrobeats will be David Adeleke, professionally known as Davido. This 29-year-old Afro-pop maverick is undisputedly one of Africa’s biggest musical exports. Davido won ‘Artiste of the Year’ award in AFRIMA 2014 and 2018. He is one of the highest nominees in AFRIMA 2021 with four nominations.

  • Fally Ipupa (Congo)

To some people, Fally Ipupa N’simba might be the 43-year-old singer who still released a smashing album as recent as last year. And to some others, he might just be the Grammy-nominated musician who’s famous for always packing an arsenal of beautiful melodies (which significantly was the title of his debut album). Across the African scene, the Kinshasha-born’s rumba rhythms have traversed diverse ears, even those of non-Congolese origins.

Fally Ipupa won ‘Best Male in Central Africa’ in 2014 and 2018. He also has nominations in the ‘Best Male in Central Africa’, ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Songwriter of the Year’ categories in AFRIMA 2021.

  • Wizkid (Nigeria)

For this battle of stars, Ayodeji Balogun, better known as Wizkid, is a fierce contender. The Grammy-winning singer emerged in the middle of a pandemic with an album that continues to shake the world, even till date. With the successes of Made in Lagos, still towering above the musical skies till date, one can only wonder at what drives the Lagos-bred musician who continues to soar in a field full of stars.

Wizkid won the coveted ‘Artiste of the Year’ in 2016 and 2017 as well as ‘Best Male in Western Africa’ in 2017 and ‘Song of the Year’ in 2019. He has six nominations in AFRIMA 2021.

  • Makhadzi (South Africa)

Limpopo-bred singer, Ndivhudzannyi Ralivhona, better known as Makhadzi, is a South African singer that’s easily found on the lips of her fellow countrymen, both for her culturally-relevant music, or her endless litany of controversies. The 25-year-old became one of the most streamed artistes of 2020, with the massive reception garnered from her album dubbed, ‘Kokovha’ (Crawl), which was released that same year.  Makhadzi currently has no AFRIMA nomination, but is clearly a strong-contender, whose Venda-laden (an official SA language) Amapiano and RnB fusion is one of the most vibrant on the scene.

  • Omah Lay (Nigeria)

Stanley Omah Didia, professionally known as Omah Lay, is one of the most vibrant new acts emerging out of Africa. The Rivers State indigene rose to the spotlight with a marathon of hit songs, last year, including a collaboration with the US artiste, 6lack.

Omah Lay also has nominations in ‘Best Male in Western Africa’, ‘Best Artiste, Duo or Group in African Pop’, and Breakout Artiste of the Year’ categories of AFRIMA 2021.

  • Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania)

NASEEB Abdul Juma Issack is a child of humble beginnings. From selling clothes on the streets of Kigoma at age 17, to breaking into mainstream stardom three years later, in 2010, Issack, who is professionally known as Diamond Platnumz, has become a face of motivation for most young teenagers in Tanzania. Asides from his vivacious vibe, Platnumz is also one of Africa’s biggest music exports.

The BET-nominated singer was featured, last year, by American Grammy-winning singer, Alicia Keys on the single dubbed, ‘Wasted Energy’. Diamond Platnumz has featured in major categories of AFRIMA since inception, having won the ‘Best Male in Eastern Africa’ in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and ‘Song of the Year’ category in 2015 and 2016. Diamond Platnumz has five nominations in AFRIMA 2021.

  • Blaq Diamond (South Africa)

Ndumiso Mdletshe and Sphelele Dunywa are, arguably, your favourite 27-year-olds in South Africa. The non-fraternal duo, under their moniker Blaq Diamond, are one of the most vibrant voices in SA’s music scene. After their debut project dubbed, ‘Inqola’, dropped in 2017, these young acts have refused to snooze from the spotlight. Their sophomore album which was released last year and is dubbed, Umuthi, already glimmers with two Platinum-certified records dubbed, Ibhanoyi and Love Letter, respectively. From having rap cyphers in a school bus around Ladysmith in KwaZulu Natal, to touring different African cities, BlaQ Diamond’s rise has been steady, strong-willed and significantly captivating. BlaQ Diamond leads AFRIMA 2021 nominees list with eight nominations.

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