BETting on Africa to win big

2014-06-22 15:00

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Africa’s footballers have had a torrid time at the World Cup, but some of the continent’s hottest musicians?–?among them South Africa’s Mafikizolo?–?will be hoping to score big at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards.

The awards take place at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday and the Best International Act: Africa category nominees represent a constellation of established and rising stars.

The nominees are Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz, Nigeria’s Tiwa Savage, her compatriot Davido, Ghana’s Sarkodie, Toofan from Togo and Mafikizolo.

This will not be South Africa’s first appearance on the nominees’ list?– Teargas, Lira, Toya Delazy and Donald were among previous artists who were featured.

Bongo Flava recording artist Diamond Platnumz was nominated for an MTV Africa Music Award. He is also the top seller of ringtones and CDs in Tanzania. The artist carries the hopes of the entire east African region on his talented shoulders.

He is rumoured to have recently spent studio time with Mafikizolo and has collaborated with Davido who, at 21, seems to have a knack for churning out the hits.

Savage, who was a contestant on the UK’s X Factor talent show, has worked with some of the world’s best in her genre?–?Collard Greens & Cornbread, a song she wrote for US singer Fantasia, was nominated for a Grammy in 2010.

That experience, and her Lagos street savvy, led to Once Upon a Time, her debut album, a polished and convincing blend of R&B and Afro-pop.

Top Nigerian names like her label boss Don Jazzy and Warren “Oak” Felder (who has written/produced songs for Rihanna, Chris Brown and Alicia Keys) were enlisted to produce the 21-track album.

Sarkodie’s nod this year is his second. He shared his win the first time around in 2012 with Nigerian wunderkind Wizkid.

Sarkodie’s tongue-twisting rhymes in his Twi dialect and pidgin sets him apart. It is also part of the reason Ghana’s Azonto dance movement is so popular in many parts of Africa and among the diaspora.

The linguistic divide in Africa renders Anglophone audiences clueless on what goes on in other regions like French-speaking Togo’s scene. If we have to draw comparisons, Toofan is the Togolese equivalent of Nigeria’s P-Square as far as style and sound is concerned.

They’re the most prolific proponents of Ogbragada, a local mixture of indigenous music, hip-hop, funk, reggae, R&B and rap invented in Ivory Coast and popular among Francophone Africans the world over.

As for home-grown heroes Mafikizolo, it’s been two years since their lead song for the current album, Reunited, dropped and they’re still being referred to as comeback kids.

Beyond our borders, the primal, Afro-House-leaning track Khona has crossed over remarkably. It has transcended language barriers to become a crowd favourite in clubs and on radio playlists across the continent.

Mafikizolo, Sarkodie and Savage will perform as part of BET’s Music Around the Globe presentation on Saturday.

The awards will premiere on the BET International TV channel in Africa on July 1 at 9pm Central Africa Time.

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