The road to Master KG’s MTV EMA Award for global hit Jerusalema

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Master KG. (PHOTO: Lubabalo Lesolle)
Master KG. (PHOTO: Lubabalo Lesolle)
Lubabalo Lesolle

It probably wasn't too much of surprise when Master KG bagged the Best African Act at the 2020 ETV EMAs, which premiered on MTV & MTV Base on Sunday night.

That's not to detract from his competition Nigeria’s Burna Boy and Mzansi’s very own Kabza de Small and Maphorisa – but the Jerusalema hitmaker has really been making waves over the last few months.

Read more | Master KG wins Best African Act at the 2020 MTV EMAs

From being performed here on Heritage Day in September to seeing nations worldwide doing their own renditions of the dance that accompanies the song, Jerusalema featuring vocalist Nomcebo Zikode has taken the world by storm and thrust the two artists' careers centre stage.

We look at how the song gained traction over the past months leading up to Master KG’s MTV EMA win.

Late November 2019 – early 2020

The song was recorded and released late in 2019 and was immediately loved by local listeners. It came second to DJ Zinhle’s Umlilo featuring Rethabile Khumalo as song of the year for Metro FM. But it wasn’t until this year that the hit exploded.

It's hard to pinpoint the first video that was responsible for the dance challenge becoming a global sensation.

The South African reports that Master KG credits a group of friends from Angola that shared a video of them dancing to the song on the internet and, as they say, the rest is history.

The musician also recorded a remix to the song that featured Nigeria's award-winning Burna Boy. The remix currently has over 2 million views on YouTube. 

Read more | Getting to know Jerusalema’s Nomcebo Zikode

August 2020 – Jerusalema surpasses 100 million views on YouTube

In August, Jerusalema surpassed 100 million views on YouTube after having just passed the 50 million mark in July.

It also received numerous reposts from various international celebrities who took part in the viral Jerusalema Dance Challenge. 

September 2020 – Jerusalema certified Gold in Italy

In September, a tweet shared by Warner Music’s official account acknowledged the song’s global success and confirmed that it had been recognised in Italy, Europe.

Still in the month of September, it was revealed that Jerusalema was the second most Shazamed song in the world in the first week of the month. Master KG responded to the streaming site with a tweet that said, “Num 2 in the world” followed by numerous South African flag emoji’s.

Read more | How Jerusalema vocalist Nomcebo Zikode went from singing backup to taking centre stage

October 2020 – Master KG is nominated for an MTV EMA Award

In October, Master KG was revealed as one of the nominees in the MTV EMAs for the hit song alongside Burna Boy and Maphorisa and Kabza, among other African stars. This category is decided by the fans and Master KG wasted no time asking his to cast their votes for him.

Still in October, vocalist Nomcebo Zikode bagged an international recording deal with Sony/ATV South Africa, part of the Sony Music Group.

"With her already impressive achievements, we at Sony ATV are thrilled to be working with her to achieve even greater things", they captioned the post.

08 November – Master KG wins MTV EMA award

In a virtual acceptance speech, Master KG thanked his team, Nomcebo Zikode and his fans for helping him create "one of the biggest songs on the planet".


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