Afrobeats artist Rema made history on Tuesday night as the first Afrobeats artist to win an award at the VMAs and the very first to win the ‘Best Afrobeats’ award for his song “Calm Down” featuring Selena Gomez.
Rema, whose real name is Divine Ikubor, is a Nigerian singer and rapper who rose to fame with his song “Dumebi,” released in 2019. His collaboration “Calm Down” with Selena Gomez in 2022, however, launched his career internationally, with the song peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also one of the best commercial Afrobeats records, sitting on the U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart for a record-setting 52 weeks.
The song also achieved a major feat just this week as it became the first Afrobeat song to hit a Billion streams on Spotify. Rema reacted to the song’s achievement in a feature for Spotify’s Top Hits feature.
“That’s huge. I’m grateful to God for the inspiration, for the grace, for the favor,” he said in a video posted to Instagram. “It’s a blessing. It’s not just a big one for me, my team, my family, it’s also a big win for the culture. I feel really happy and I’m really proud of the fans as well,” he said.
“First Afrobeat song to hit a Billion stream did that! Thank you all,” he also wrote on Twitter. He thanked fans and Selena Gomez in another tweet. “I feel really blessed, thank you all for supporting us! I love you so much [Selena Gomez],” he tweeted.
Rema is not the first VMA newcomer. Ice Spice also won the Best New Artist award.
“Thank you so much. This is so cool. I just want to thank my munchkins; I love you guys so much,” she said while thanking God and shouting out her Bronx community.
The VMA was hosted this year by Nicki Minaj as the show celebrates 50 years of Hip Hop being in existence. As part of her contribution to the show, Minaj teased a new track from her ‘Pink Friday 2’ album.
Minaj also won another Best Hip Hop Song for “Super Freaky Girl”. This is her fifth VMA award in that category and extends her record for the most ‘Best Hip Hop’ wins in VMA history.
Other veterans who performed include Diddy, who brought out Yung Miami and Keyshia Cole for what appears to be an R&B teaser for his upcoming album.