African Acts in Hollywood- Have We Finally Arrived?

Nigerian acts, Davido and Tiwa Savage were at the just concluded BET awards in LA after both receiving nominations for the best African Act Category.

The experience, some would argue sealed Africa’s rising profile in the international entertainment industry in an era of multinational collaborations that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

The duo regaled us with pictures (and selfies of course) of themselves ‘balling’ in LA in the run up to the awards and at the BET experience concert which featured music from around the world where other African artists including South African A- listers Mafikizolo and Ghanian artist Sarkodie also brought some colour and Afro vibe to the concert.

The awards are held every year in celebration of Black talent and this has now been extended to African artists with the introduction of the Best International act- Africa category.

BET also regularly features African artists; particularly Nigerians on the channel and in concerts, with D’banj, M.I and Nigerian rapper Mode9 all having been featured in shows.

The African award category has been heavily dominated by Nigerian acts with Wizkid and Iceprince as previous winners in 2012 and 2013. This year was no different as Davido  (Real name: David Adeleke), won the award having scooped the same award at the MTV MAMA awards ceremonies in South Africa recently.

Davido shows off his trophy after winning the best International act- Africa category at the BET awards in LA photo: Davido/Instagram

Davido shows off his trophy after winning the best International act- Africa category at the BET awards in LA
photo: Davido/Instagram

Despite the recognition of African artists, fans and critics believe it isn’t Hurrah yet for the African music industry.

While some are quite happy for the fact that African artists are getting to rub shoulders with the high and mighty in Hollywood, others question the validity of the category as it beggars the question of whether African artists are perceived to be ‘good enough’ to be showcased to the general American public like their American contemporaries.

Davido Poses with 'Happy' singer Pharell at rehearsals for the BET awards Photo: Davido/Istagram

Davido Poses with ‘Happy’ singer Pharell at rehearsals for the BET awards
Photo: Davido/Istagram

Watching Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage strut her stuff on the red carpet in the midst of Hollywood greats like Kerry Washington,  whilst Davido bounced his way round the same Red Carpet as T.I, Nelly and Tyrese, surely, this says something for how far we have come, doesn’t it?

Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage with Eva Marcille on the BET awards red carpet Photo: Tiwa Savage/Instagram

Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage with Eva Marcille on the BET awards red carpet
Photo: Tiwa Savage/Instagram

TV host and renowned Media personality Adesope Olajide told Naija Living that he understands the concerns felt by many in the industry as he views the African marriage with BET/America with scepticism.

“Their points are genuine,” he said. He concedes that ‘America is a fertile land’, full of opportunities for African artists but is not fazed by the barrage of celebrity selfies and Instagrams that have had many a fan gushing about how far their Nigerian idols have come.

He insists that the celebrity selfies and collaborations are just a mirage and African artists still have a long way to go to break into the mainstream.

“The fact that we have artists photographed with US artists is only because they’ve got American artists managing them”- in reference to Wizkid’s recent romp with the likes of Bieber and Chris Brown.

Adesope added that “African pop music doesn’t have a clear path because sometimes, it sounds like American music and this ‘may’ be where African artists are missing the trick in distinguishing themselves as ‘African’ acts but, he says this isn’t even the main issue.

That African artists are getting airplay on BET has little to do with our hard work he says, and more to do with the fact that the channel is now owned by media conglomerate Viacom, who also own MTVBase, hence the ‘African’ connection.

“When we have African music being played on American mainstream stations, then we can say we’ve arrived.”

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