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Playing Fela’s ‘Water’ in error, other controversies surrounding Grammy 2024 awards

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Nigerians have taken to several social media platforms to express their disappointment in the outcome of the 2024 Grammy Academy Awards, which signalled a poor outing for Nigerian artistes as none of them bagged the prestigious annual award.

The award, which marked the 66th ceremony, was held at the Peacock Theatre in Los Angeles, United States on Sunday.

Eight artistes of Nigerian descent – 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 all lost out of the Grammy in their combined 10 nominations across different award categories.

In November 2023, the eight artistes were nominated for the 2024 Grammy 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 last night, music producers, artistes, songwriters and netizens have taken to social media platforms to vent their reactions about the recording academy’s choice. In this report, PUNCH Online highlights the major controversies identified in the prestigious event.

After the South African artiste Tyla Laura Seethal, popularly known as Tyla, was announced the winner of Best African Music Performance, it was Fela’s evergreen record, ‘Water No Get Enemy’ that came up instead of Tyla’s sexualised mid-tempo tune. This gave the impression that the organisers did not even know the song they had judged to be the best of African music performances.

Reacting, 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 artists 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?

“They had no clue about the award they were given.”

Another controversy arose in the category of the Best Global Music Album that had Epifanías — Susana Baca, History — Bokanté, I Told Them… — Burna Boy, This Moment – Shakti, Timeless — Davido. With ‘This Moment’ winning the category.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Global means ‘of or relating to the entire world: Worldwide.” Something is adjudged global when it is generally accepted and known. Hence, a Global Music Album is expected to be worldwide either by streams or social media usage, amongst others.

Checks by PUNCH Online revealed that the winning song, ‘This Moment’ by Shakti released on June 23, 2023, had so far scooped less than 100k views in total, the highest stream, Shrini’s Dream only has 20k views since seven months ago. On the other hand, Davido’s “Timeless” amassed close to 100m streams in ten months of its release and Burna Boy scooped more than 50m 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.”

Meanwhile, Jay-Z faulted the Recording Academy Award for maginalisation. He took a moment to acknowledge his fraught history with the Recording Academy, which he has long accused of marginalising Black artists.

The hip-hop mogul specifically noted that his wife has won more Grammys than any other artistes — but never the prestigious Album of the Year despite a smattering of nominations.

“Think about that, most Grammys, not one Album of the Year — that does not work,” he said.

“Some of you are going to go home tonight and feel like you have been robbed. Some of you may get robbed,” he continued to laughter.

He then laid in with a final dig while receiving the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, saying, “Some of you don’t belong in the category.”

Killer Mike was arrested at the Grammy Awards on Sunday after the rapper and activist won three Grammy awards including his first in more than two decades.

In a video posted by the trade website The Hollywood Reporter, Mike was escorted in handcuffs by Los Angeles police at Crypto.com Arena after some joyous moments for him at the Grammys’ Premiere Ceremony on Sunday, where he won his awards in quick succession.

Police spokesperson Officer Mike Lopez said Mike’s detention stemmed from an altercation inside the arena around 4 pm. He was booked on a misdemeanour.

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