African artistes once again proved their mettle at the 2023 African Entertainment Awards USA (AEA/USA), which was announced in the United States on November 11, 2023.
Top winners included Tanzanian musician and entrepreneur Harmonize who took home the Artiste of the Year and the award for Best Music Video.
Nigeria’s DJ Neptune won Best DJ, while Davido and Rema-Gomez’s Calm Down, won Album of the Year and Song of the Year respectively.
First presented in 2015, the scheme celebrates African entertainment and achievements globally, and it aims to unite Africans, including those in the Caribbean, and promote “a strong, self-sufficient Africa capable of driving social change worldwide.”
Best Male Artiste went to Burna Boy as he beat competitors including Davido, Diamond Platnumz, Black Sherif, and others. Fast-rising performer, Tyla, was adjudged Best Female Artiste while Mali’s Iba One won Best Hip Hop/Rap Artiste.
Other highlights included P. Square (Best Duo/Group); Endurance Grand (Best Dancer/Group) and Portable who was crowned Best New Artiste while Akon was named African Icon of the Year.
The list also included African actors and actresses, as well as Entrepreneurs and Footballers.
Burna Boy and Rema need no introduction but let’s zoom in on the new artiste, Portable and Harmonise, who has been in the game for several years. The award was said to be the first international recognition for Portable, known in real life as Habeeb Okikiola.
The 29-year-old reportedly became famous after contributing to the song ZaZoo Zehh featuring Nigerian rapper Olamide and Nigerian dancer Poco Lee. He is somewhat controversial and adopts a unique style to his compositions.
Portable has a number of songs but one that propelled him, especially on social media, was his live performance of the song Apostle, in which he spoke about the ostentatious lifestyle of some African pastors who don’t want to go to heaven but tended to preach about the Kingdom of Heaven to their followers.
Other recordings by Portable include: Testimony, All Eyes on Me, Pay Me My Money. He was nominated Best Street Artist at the 2022 Headies Awards and is said to have five children with different women.
Meanwhile, Harmonize, born Rajabu Abdul Kahali, has been on the music scene since 2010, and mixes the East African ‘bongo flava’ and catchy Afro-pop as his style. He debuted in 2015 with Aiyola, a sunny and melodic single which he followed up in 2016 with Bado, his first collaboration with fellow Tanzanian Diamond Platnumz.
The song earned him a WatsUp Africa Music Video Award for Best African Newcomer Video.
The 2018 club hit Fire Waist, with Skales, continued to expand his popularity in advance of Afro Bongo.
He launched his debut Extended Play (EP) and record label, Konde Music in 2018 and went ahead to collaborate with artists including Sheebah, Eddy Kenzo, and Phyno before delivering his debut full-length, Afro East, in 2020.