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African Artists At The Grammys: Angélique Kidjo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Rocky Dawuni & Jidenna Earn 2016 Nominations

Angélique Kidjo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Zomba Prison Project, Rocky Dawuni, and Jidenna have all been nominated for 2016 Grammys.

Angélique Kidjo at the 2015 Grammys. (Photo courtesy of Angélique Kidjo)


The 2016 Grammy nominations have been announced and a few of our favorite artists have made the cut.

Renowned Beninese singer and activist, Angélique Kidjo, is once again nominated in the “Best World Music” category for her album Sings. Kidjo took home the award last year–with an exceptionally graceful speech—for her album EVE and also in 2008 for Djin Djin.

South African all-male chorus Ladysmith Black Mambazo are also contenders for the “Best World Music" award for their album Music From Inala. This is the group’s 16th nomination in a career that has spanned over 50 years. Their most recent win was in 2013 when they received the award for their album Live: Singing For Peace Around The World. The Zomba Prison Project, an album conceived of by American writer and producer Ian Brennan (Tinerwan, TV On The Radio) and comprised of recordings by prisoners at the Zomba Central Prison located at the border of Malawi and Mozambique, is also nominated in the category.

Though we’re excited for the nominees, we’re still side-eyeing The Grammys’ continued use of ‘World Music’ as an all-encompassing tag for all non-Western music of blatantly different genres. One in which, this year, Kidjo and Ladysmith Black Mambazo are placed in the same category as Gilberto Gil’s samba album and Indian sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

However, African artists have been nominated in other categories as well. Rocky Dawuni becomes the first Ghanaian to be nominated for “Best Reggae Album” for his latest project Branches of the Same Tree. The “African Thriller” singer expressed his elation about the monumental nomination to Accra’s Starr 103.5FM radio station, “it’s a good day for Ghana and Ghanaian music” exclaimed the musician.

Nigerian-American singer Jidenna, earned his first-ever nomination for his hit single “Classic Man.” The song is up against records by Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Common and others for the title of “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.”

Check out some of the nominated songs and albums below and tune in on February 15 to see which of Africa’s star musicians take home golden gramophones at the 2016 Grammys.

Update, 12/8/15:  South African artist Wouter Kellerman's Love Language is also nominated, he's in the running for "Best Contemporary Instrumental Album." Also, as Loyiso mentions on our Facebook, South African gospel artist Neville Diedericks is nominated for "Best Gospel Performance/Song" for his part in Israel & New Breed's "How Awesome Is Our God (Live)."

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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