With Nigerian artists now more globally visible and celebrated than ever, thanks to the ongoing efforts of pioneers like Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido, this feels like the year they could finally be shown some serious love at the Grammys.
While many hoped that Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift would help score nods for all the Nigerians involved, it turns out the album isn’t being submitted for consideration, with her acclaimed Homecoming album getting the major push instead.
Thankfully, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any Nigerian stars jumping for joy when the nominations are announced on November 20. So, we decided to highlight five stars who have a legitimate shot, while also indicating the hurdles they’ll have to overcome.
Burna Boy (‘Best World Music Album’ for ‘African Giant’)
Throughout the 2000s, the ‘Best World Music Album’ category has only recognised Nigerian artists with the last name, Kuti. That seems set to finally change, with Burna Boy primed to bag a nomination for his critically acclaimed LP, African Giant.
The hurdle? As odd as it sounds, Burna Boy’s biggest hurdle might be his youthfulness. This dated category is usually filled with much older musicians, and at just 28, the afro-fusion star would be the youngest nominee in years.
Wizkid (‘Best Pop Duo/Group Performance’ for “Brown Skin Girl”)
Due to the cultural impact of “Brown Skin Girl”, we are counting on Wizkid to land his second Grammy nomination for his work on the Lion King: The Gift standout. Also, Beyoncé is a Grammy darling, and since it’s one of the few songs she submitted this year, a nod feels like a given.
The hurdle? While it was the most commercially successful song off the soundtrack album – peaking at no 76 on the Billboard Hot 100 — it still wasn’t a major hit in the US, and based on Grammy history, the pop categories are usually reserved for chart-toppers.
Maleek Berry (‘Best Rap/Sung Performance’ for “Zulu Screams”)
For the past two years, GoldLink has been nominated for ‘Best Rap/Sung Performance’. We think he could make it three for three with the Maleek Berry-assisted “Zulu Screams”, which has been enjoying an outpouring of love since it appeared on the FIFA 20 soundtrack.
The hurdle? Although “Zulu Screams” received praise from critics, it wasn’t a commercial hit — failing to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. This means it will have to use just acclaim to try and sneak past hits like Post Malone’s ”Wow” and Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”, both vying for a spot as well.
Yemi Alade (‘Best World Music Album’ for ‘Woman of Steel’)
Before you roll your eyes, just know that Yemi Alade has as good a chance as any artist on this list to actually end up with a nod. From the production to its themes, her career-best LP, Woman of Steel feels tailor-made for the ‘Best World Music Album’ category, and we think voters could take the bait.
The hurdle? Yemi Alade’s biggest hurdle is Burna Boy. It seems unlikely (but not impossible) that two Nigerian projects will be nominated for ‘Best World Music Album’, and since Burna Boy’s nomination feels like a certainty, it might end up hindering Yemi Alade from making the cut.
Davido (‘Best R&B Performance’ for “Blow My Mind”)
Chris Brown reportedly submitted “Blow My Mind” for consideration in the ‘Best R&B Performance’ category, and while Davido scoring his first Grammy nomination for this song doesn’t feel as plausible as the other hopefuls on this list, stranger things have happened.
The hurdle? Granted, “Blow My Mind” was a big hit over here, but it never really crossed over like “Fall” managed to. Also, the song is up against a much bigger Chris Brown hit, the Drake-assisted “No Guidance”, which was reportedly submitted in the same category.