Fast-rising rapper Cardi B on Monday topped nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards, where Jay-Z and Beyonce’s ornate work shot at the Louvre and the politically charged “This is America” also enjoyed recognition.
Cardi B, who in little more than a year has become one of the most prominent women in the male-dominated world of hip-hop, received 10 nominations for the awards show that will take place on August 20 in New York.
The Bronx native born as Belcalis Almanzar was in the running in both hip-hop and Latin categories as well as Artist of the Year and Best New Artist.
The 25-year-old, who recently became a mother, was nominated for Video of the Year as the featured artist on “Finesse” by funk revivalist Bruno Mars. The video pays tribute to “In Living Color,” the trailblazing African American television comedy show of the early 1990s.
Cardi B stormed into pop culture prominence last year with “Bodak Yellow,” a song in which she touches on her former life making ends meet as a stripper, but was controversially passed over at the latest Grammy Awards — which Mars dominated.
Beyonce and Jay-Z were nominated for eight awards, all for “Apeshit,” the meticulously attired and tightly choreographed production shot at the Louvre, opening with music’s first couple standing like a painting in front of the Mona Lisa.
“Apeshit” was part of the surprise album “Everything is Love” by “The Carters,” who celebrated their marriage in soulful hip-hop after a rough patch that was thoroughly aired in previous music.
Childish Gambino and Drake each received seven nominations. Childish Gambino, the hip-hop alter ego of actor Donald Glover, received all his nods for “This is America,” his much-discussed meditation on the contemporary political landscape of the United States.
The video for “This is America,” directed by Hiro Murai, depicts Glover in acts of violence that reflect gun massacres and racism in the United States, complemented with dancing in homage to African traditions.
– Recognizing activism –
“This is America” was also in the running for best Video With a Message as MTV for the second straight year tried to capture the political moment by honoring works with an activist bent.
Other contenders in the category include rapper Logic’s “1-800-273-8255,” named for an anti-suicide help number and featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, and feminist singer Janelle Monae’s “Pynk,” whose video depicts her at a slumber party with other women bonding over a shared love of their vaginas.
Drake, rarely seen as a political artist, was nominated for Video With a Message for “God’s Plan,” in which he doles out charity money, while emerging Canadian singer Jessie Reyez is in the running for “Gatekeeper,” a #MeToo-era song about an established music producer who tries to pressure her into sex.
Despite the serious side, the MTV Video Music Awards is best known for made-for-the-cameras pop culture moments with less attention paid to who ultimately wins than the music industry’s Grammys.
Previous spectacles at the VMAs have included Lady Gaga sporting a dress made of meat, Britney Spears and Madonna locking lips and Kanye West declaring his aspirations for the White House.
Like other awards shows, MTV has been coping with declining viewership as audiences are increasingly spoiled for choice on what to watch.