In a historic moment for the Afrobeats genre, Nigerian sensation Divine Ikubor, widely known as Rema, made waves at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards. The singer and songwriter took home the inaugural “Best Afrobeats Song” award for his collaborative hit track “Calm Down,” featuring American superstar Selena Gomez. This groundbreaking achievement not only recognizes Rema’s immense talent but also highlights the global appeal and growing influence of Afrobeats music. In this blog post, we delve into Rema’s remarkable win and his heartfelt tribute to Afrobeats legends who paved the way for the new generation.
Rema’s victory in the newly created “Best Afrobeats Song” category was a momentous occasion for both the artist and the Afrobeats music genre. “Calm Down” emerged as the first-ever winner of this prestigious award, triumphing over stiff competition from fellow Nigerian artists like Wizkid, Burna Boy, Fireboy, Asake, Davido, Ayra Starr, and even Cameroonian singer Libianca. Rema’s partnership with Selena Gomez on the track showcased the genre’s ability to bridge cultural divides and create compelling musical fusions.
When Rema took the stage to accept his award, the emotion was palpable. With Selena Gomez by his side, he expressed his gratitude to his fans, his team, and his collaborator. However, what truly stood out was his heartfelt tribute to the pioneers and legends of Afrobeats who paved the way for artists like himself. He acknowledged the significant contributions of legends like Fela Kuti, 2Baba, Don Jazzy, D’banj, D’Prince, Runtown, Timaya, Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido.
In his acceptance speech, Rema said, “This [award] means so much; seeing Afrobeats grow and being on this stage representing Afrobeats tonight. I’m so happy. But one thing I will not forget to do this night is to shout out the people who opened the door for me.”
Rema’s acknowledgment of Afrobeats pioneers and legends highlights the genre’s rich history and the diverse influences that have contributed to its evolution. Fela Kuti, often referred to as the “Father of Afrobeats,” laid the foundation for this vibrant musical style. Subsequent generations of artists, including 2Baba, Don Jazzy, D’banj, and more, played pivotal roles in popularizing Afrobeats on the global stage.
In recent years, the likes of Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido have taken Afrobeats to unprecedented heights, earning international acclaim and collaborations with artists from around the world. Rema’s win at the 2023 MTV VMAs symbolizes the continued ascent of Afrobeats and the genre’s ability to resonate with audiences worldwide.
Rema’s historic win at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards not only showcases his talent and the universal appeal of Afrobeats but also pays homage to the trailblazers who paved the way for the genre’s global recognition. As Afrobeats continues to gain prominence on the international stage, artists like Rema serve as ambassadors for the genre, carrying the torch passed down by the legends who came before them. With each award and milestone, the future of Afrobeats looks even brighter, promising to delight music lovers across the globe for years to come.