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Photo by Brad Ogbonna, courtesy of Ibra Ake.

Nigerian-American Artist Ibra Ake Wins Grammy for 'This is America'

The visual artist won a "Best Music Video" Grammy for producing Childish Gambino's viral video.

We were "rooting for everybody African" last night at the 61st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, and this year we have multiple artists to celebrate.

Aside from the Soweto Gospel Choir picking up their third Grammy for "Best World Music Album" during last night's show for their album Freedom, another win for came when Nigerian-American visual artist Ibra Ake picked up a Grammy for his work on Childish Gambino's seminal "This is America" music video, which—unsurprisingly—won "Best Music Video" at last night's show. The song also won for 'Best Rap/Sung Performance," "Record of the Year" and became the first rap song in Grammy history to win "Song of The Year."

READ: Ibra Ake Is On a Mission To Show African Creatives the Value of Ownership & Telling Honest Stories

Ake, who produced the music video, took to Twitter after his win in celebration. "I can't believe i just won a grammy," he wrote. "'Where is the catch?!' royalty forever."

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Still from La Même Gang's "Kemor Ame." (Youtube)

5 Young African Music Video Directors to Look Out For In 2019

The new wave of African music video directing is here .

From the burgeoning alté scene to the mainstream, the new school of African directors are injecting fresh energy into the music videos of some of the continent's biggest artists and more.

With their unique perspectives and innovative visual concepts, these young directors and filmmakers are defying many of the cliché music video ideas seen in the Nigerian and Ghanaian scenes—and having a lot of fun every step of the way.

Here are the brilliant new talents behind the lens in the African music scene: David Duncan, Scilla Owusu, Ademola Falomo, Babs Direction and Daviid Anthony.

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Yemi Alade.

7 Reasons Why Yemi Alade Is A Music Video Icon

Here are the reasons why Yemi Alade is the Nigerian queen of music videos.

Never less than impressive, Yemi Alade's videos are frequently a visual feast of enviably agile dancing, burlesqued acting, inventive costuming and full-on pizazz. The Nigerian singer has a magnetic presence, seen video after video, and rivaled by few in a very competitive afropop sphere.

Here are seven reasons that prove that the self titled Mama Africa is the most iconic video artist, yet.

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Juls & Burna Boy's "Gwarn."

The 10 Best Music Videos of 2017

The best music videos of the year—featuring must-see music videos from Cherrie, MHD, Juls & Burna Boy and more.

As everything in the music world seems to move towards streaming, the importance and weight of music videos only gets bigger.

2017 saw a long list of artists across Africa and its diaspora share some incredible music videos. Some acts looked towards their background to deliver new takes on their roots, while others broke the mold completely, presenting a visual aesthetic that felt wholly fresh and new.

Here are the 10 Best Music Videos of 2017 below.

Listen to our Best Songs of 2017 playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

Cherrie "163 För Evigt," featuring Z.E

Buzzing Somali-Swedish singer Cherrie dropped the amazing video for "163 För Evigt" ("163 Forever"), which despite her singing in Swedish, blew up online on both sides of the Atlantic, being posted in several Instagrams, Tweets and everything in between. "163" is the area code for Rinkeby, the largely immigrant populated Stockholm suburb where Cherrie grew up. Throughout the video, she reps Somalia hard—just take a look at the Somali flag waving proudly throughout the whole video or the very first line of the song in which she shouts out Mogadishu. —Kam Tambini

Oumou Sangaré "Kamelemba"

Grammy Award-winning Malian singer Oumou Sangaré teams up with South African director and fashion photographer Chris Saunders in the surreal music video for "Kamelemba." The video features members from the Swaggers dance crew, set before a gloomy, futuristic landscape. The director has mentioned that their performance is meant to portray a varied interpretation of afrofuturism and modern beauty. "The video references traditionally masculine performance cultures, like the competition of the Congolese Sapeur, portrayed here by a group of women in a gender-free setting," said Saunders. —Damola Durosomo

Juls "Gwarn" feat. Burna Boy

"Gwarn" is the ultra-smooth afrobeats collaboration from British-Ghanaian producer Juls and Nigerian star Burna Boy. It's music video follows an animated Juls and Burna as they serenade their girls in through several hilarious scenes. Watch them both lounge with their girls in this incredible Poka-directed video. —Kam Tambini

J Hus "Spirit"

J Hus had a breakout year with his excellent debut album, Common Sense. In the music video for "Spirit," one of the release's standout tracks, the UK-Gambian MC heads to Jamestown, Ghana for a lively affair packed with motor bike swerving, boxing, fishing and loads of contagious energy. —Kam Tambini

Yemi Alade "Charliee"

Yemi Alade's video for "Charliee" is simply a joy to watch. The Paul Gambit-directed clip is a bright and vibrant deep-dive into the sweet pop sound and aesthetic of this Nigerian diva. Yemi had a good year marked by the recent release of her highly-anticipated third album, Black Magic. Even more so, her old video for "Johnny" became the most watched Nigerian video on Youtube ever earlier this year. —Kam Tambini

Kelela "LMK"

Kelela serves all kinds of looks in her sultry music video for "LMK." The energetic video begins with the Ethiopian-American singer offering chic, 90s "it-girl" looks as she enters a packed club in a shiny blonde wig and statement frames. She then dons fiery red tresses for a dance number in a flashing hallway, before switching back to her signature locs during an all-white party. It's all major hair and style inspiration in just under four minutes. —Damola Durosomo

MHD "Afro Trap Part 9 (Faut Les Wet)"

The highly-buzzing young rapper MHD celebrates his roots by making West African-inspired "Afro Trap" music—an eclectic mix of hip-hop and afro-pop styles that's gone viral. The French rapper of Guinean and Senegalese descent has sparked an "Afro Trap" phenomenon in the past few years, with each one of his songs and its accompanying videos typically gaining tens of millions of views when he uploads them to Youtube. MHD continued his impressive Afro Trap series with Part 9, which follows the young rapper flanked by two amazing kid dancers and some goofy CGI effects across the streets of Paris. —Kam Tambini

Major Lazer & DJ Maphorisa "Particula"

Major Lazer and South Africa's DJ Maphorisa enlisted a bevy of buzzing African artists—Nasty C, Jidenna, Ice Prince, and Patorankin—for 'Particula.' Shot in Johannesburg, the 70s-inspired video sees the artists head to an exceptionally groovy party filled with vibrant gqom, pantsula and Fela Kuti-inspired dancers. The retro-tinged visual, directed by Adriaan Louw, transports viewers to the funkier days, when disco and bell-bottoms ruled. —Damola Durosomo

Olamide "Love No Go Die"

Olamide's video for "Love No Go Die" is the perfect meeting of animation and Nigerian pop music. The video, which was produced by the YBNL Toons, begins with Olamide's 3D avatar, in his signature black shades, lovingly staring at a girl in a hospital bed. The segment then cuts to better times—a flashback of the two animated characters playing video games. Their gaming session soon escalates as they start getting more intimate, while a larger-than-life portrait of Olamide hanging in the background looks on. Everything then turns to a spy-meets-Casino Royale ordeal. There are levels to this thing. —Jacqueline Traoré

Wizkid "Come Closer (Redux)"

When Wizkid dropped an alternate music video for his Drake-assisted hit "Come Closer," we have to say, we enjoyed it much more than the first. The video—directed by the acclaimed video director and husband of Solange Knowles, Alan Ferguson—sees Wizkid and some stylish friends at a dreamy summer get-together, brimming with rich color, bold fashion, and gorgeous melanin. The 3 and-a-half minute music video boasts features from Khoudia Diop (aka Melanin Goddess) , and even Davido's reported ex-girlfirend Sira Kante, who plays Wizkid's love interest. With its fun dance numbers and vintage Malik Sidibé vibes, the video is a visual stunner that had us wondering why Starboy didn't just drop this version in the first place. —Damola Durosomo


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