Proof of the ever-growing popularity of hip-hop in South Africa, young rappers Emtee and Fifi Cooper, both relative newcomers to the music industry, were the big winners at the 15th annual Metro FM Music Awards (MMAs) ceremony, held on Saturday 27 February at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban.
Emtee (real name Mthembeni Ndevu) won four awards: Best Hip Hop album (for Avery), Best Music Video (for ‘Roll Up’), Best Remix (for ‘Roll Up Re-up’, featuring AKA and Nigerian star Wizkid) and the Listener’s Choice award.
Motswako rapper Fifi Cooper (real name Refilwe Mooketsi) won Best Newcomer, Best Produced Album and Best Female Album for her debut album 20Fifi.
This year’s winners received a R100 000 (US$6350) cash prize for each category win, meaning that Emtee walked away with R400 000 ($25400) while Fifi Cooper took home a cool R300 000 ($19050). The pair represent the same talent stable, Johannesburg-based Ambitiouz Entertainment. Both are just 23 years old.
Another newcomer, Cici, picked up two awards: Best Styled Album (for Runaway) and Best R&B Single (for the album’s title track). Kwaito pioneer Arthur Mafokate earned a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution both as solo artist and a head of 999 Music. Arthur's ongoing relevance in the industry was underlined by his work with two-time winner Cici, as well as his label's win in the Best Compilation Album category for Summer Ya Di Summer.
The most anticipated award of the evening, Song of the Year, went to Nathi for ‘Nomvula’ (featuring in our most recent video playlist). Nathi also picked up Best African Pop Album for Buyelekhaya. Rapper Cassper Nyovest, last year’s big winner with five trophies, had to be content with only one award this time around: Best Male Album for Refiloe.
This year’s ceremony saw the introduction of a new pan-African category, dubbed the One Africa Award. The nominees were all Nigerians: Burna Boy (for ‘Soka’), Wizkid (‘Ojuelegba’), Patoranking (‘My Woman, my Everything’), The Mavins (‘Dorobucci’) and Reekado Banks (‘Katapot’). Burna Boy ended up winning the category. He also featured on another MMA-winning track: AKA’s ‘Baddest’, also featuring Khuli Chana and Yanga, which won Best Hit Single and Best Collaboration. The win made it two in a row for Burna Boy and AKA, who last year won Best Collab for 'All Eyes on Me'.
The all-Naija list was a disappointment to the organisers. Metro FM station manager Sibongile Mtyali recently confessed to the Mail & Guardian: “When we took the decision to introduce this category, we were not aware that at the end of the day it would come to this… This was an awakening of some sort to us and it’s a call to action for the music and broadcasting industry, to say we cannot have a situation like this. However, we’ve just introduced this category. We want to grow it and we believe that next year we’ll present a different picture, but the reality of our picture is that most of the MMAs submissions that we received were from Nigeria, and this is reflected in the nominees.”
Taking far more of the media shine off this year’s MMAs were the recent allegations from jazz musician and producer Don Laka, who in a series of stinging social media posts and public interviews over the past month has singled out Metro FM, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s biggest commercial radio station, as "the single biggest destroyer of our industry and culture, harbouring American agents responsible for most of our royalties leaving this country”. Many of the station’s DJs were also slammed by Laka for releasing (and promoting) their own albums – for example, Metro FM hosts Sphectacula and DJ Naves were frontrunners with five nominations, although they ended the night empty handed.
The full list of MMA winners is as follows:
- Song of the Year: Nathi – ‘Nomvula’
- Best Male Album: Cassper Nyovest - Refiloe
- Best African Pop Album: Nathi - Buyelekhaya
- Best Compilation Album: 999 Music - Summer Ya Di Summer
- Best Dance Album: Prince Kaybee - Better Days
- Best Female Album: Fifi Cooper – 20Fifi
- Best Duo or Group Album: Dbn Nyts - Believe
- Best Hit Single: AKA ft. Burna Boy, Khuli Chana & Yanga – ‘Baddest’
- Best Music Video: Emtee – ‘Roll Up’
- Best Hip-Hop Album: Emtee - Avery
- Best Urban Jazz Album: Nomfundo Xaluva - From Now On
- Best Kwaito Album: DJ Bongz - Game Changer
- Best New Artist: Fifi Cooper – 20Fifi
- Best R&B Single: Cici – ‘Runaway’
- Best Remix: Emtee - Roll Up Re-Up
- Best Urban Gospel Album: Worship House - True Worship 2015 (Live)
- Best Collaboration: AKA ft. Burna Boy, Khuli Chana & Yanga – ‘Baddest’
- Best Produced Album: Fifi Cooper – 20Fifi
- Best Styled Album: Cici - Runaway
- Listener's Choice Award: Emtee
- One Africa Award: Burna Boy
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Arthur Mafokate