South Africa and Nigerian artists dominate the nominees list for the first-ever MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs).
The 10-category list of nominees revealed in Johannesburg last night (Oct. 7) saw South African acts take 18 nominations, followed by Nigeria with 16. Also ensuring a presence at the event, taking place in the Nigerian city of Abuja on Nov. 22, are Kenya, with three nominations, and Ghana with two. Artists from Mozambique, Gabon, Tanzania and Uganda picked up single nominations for the awards, which are sponsored by Kuwait-based mobile telecom company Zain.
According to Johannesburg-based Elouise Kelly, head of editorial at MTV Networks Africa, “this is a measure of the prevalence of the South African and Nigerian music industries on the African continent. When we launched MTV Base [in Africa] three years ago, South African [music] dominated but over the years Nigeria has caught up and even overtaken South Africa.”
An indication of this came with the leading five nominations received by Nigerian R&B duo, P-Square who are up for best group, best live performer, best R&B, best video and artist of the year.
They are closely followed by another Nigerian, D’Banj, who picked up three nominations, including best male and artist of the year. He’s facing competition from the leading South African nominee, HHP, who is up for MAMAs in the best male, artist of the year and best hip-hop categories.
Best hip-hop is where the majority of international artists picked up nominations: U.S. acts Lil Wayne and The Game are going against HHP, Nigeria’s 9ice and Tanzania’s Professor Jay in the category. Other non-African nominees include female U.S. stars Alicia Keys and Rihanna for best R&B, and the U.K.’s Coldplay and Portugal’s Buraka Som Sistema in best alternative.
Nominees were voted for by a pan-African academy of 150 industry experts from 30 countries. Voting by the public determines the eventual winners. Speaking after the nominees were announced, South African R&B artist Loyiso said he was hoping his nomination in the best R&B category would secure him a spot on the awards show.
“More than just the few seconds of having my name up there as a nominee or even winning, I would love to be able to have a few minutes to show the world my music and performing skills,” he told Billboard.biz.
U.K. radio presenter and club DJ Trevor Nelson will host the inaugural event. International and African Live performers will be announced within the next week.