In a historic win that echoes the vibrancy of Afrobeats, Burna Boy and Rema emerged as the inaugural winners in their respective categories at the 2023 Billboard Music Awards held on Sunday. Burna Boy clinched the prestigious title of Top Afrobeats Artiste, while Rema made history as the first recipient of the newly introduced award for Top Afrobeats Song.
During a heartfelt acceptance speech, Selena Gomez expressed her gratitude, acknowledging Rema’s pivotal role in the success of “Calm Down.” “This is honestly Rema’s doing. He chose me to be a part of such an incredible song. So I want to thank him and thank all of you for streaming and listening,” said the singer-actress.
Rema, representing Nigeria on the global stage, shared his thoughts on the honour, framing it as a celebration of unity and the global dominance of Afrobeats. “I want to say a big shout out to Selena Gomez, Mavin Records, Josie Ward, as well as the amazing fans who supported us all the way to this point. I want to say a big thank you to Billboard — I’m very grateful. All the way from Nigeria, Rema. One love,” he expressed.
The chart-topping hit, “Calm Down,” also stands as a contender in various categories, including top radio song, top Billboard Global 200 song, top Billboard Global (Excl. U.S.) song, and top collaboration. The track, reaching a No. 3 high on the Billboard Hot 100, signifies Rema’s first song to enter the Hot 100, and it marks Selena Gomez’s ninth top 10 hit on the tally.
In another moment of triumph, Burna Boy, following a Grammy win earlier this year, clinched the title of Best Afrobeats act at the same Billboard Music Awards. Speaking in a recorded video message, Burna Boy dedicated the award to Africa and all emerging artists from the continent. Reflecting on the achievement, he stated, “the future’s bright… This is just the tip of the iceberg, but you’re gonna see the whole vision soon.”
Burna Boy’s global impact, blending Afrobeats, reggae, and dancehall, is evident in his Grammy win and recent Billboard Music Award. Rema’s historic win alongside him highlights Afrobeats’ universal appeal. With unique styles and a commitment to African roots, they symbolise the genre’s borderless influence, leaving an indelible mark on the international music scene.
These wins underscore the global impact of Afrobeats, with Billboard recognizing its immense popularity by introducing a dedicated category. The artists’ successes exemplify the genre’s ability to captivate audiences worldwide, with Rema’s breakthrough and Burna Boy’s continued ascent marking a defining moment for Afrobeats on the international stage.