Nicki Minaj, D’Angelo Among Artists Of Color Nominated for AMAs

By Sameer Rao Oct 13, 2015

Joe Jonas and Charlie Puth announced this year’s American Music Awards nominations this morning, and surprise: Taylor Swift leads the nominations!

Just kidding. Swift’s presence is pretty par for the course, given the logic guiding the Awards’ nomination process, as explained by Billboard

AMAs nominees are based on key fan interactions as reflected in Billboard Magazine and on, including album and digital singles sales, radio airplay, streaming, social activity and touring. These measurements are tracked by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen Entertainment and Next Big Sound.

So basically, the biggest artists—that is, those with the biggest public profiles and more often than not the biggest industry backing—get the most nominations. Which, predictably, leads to many deserving and acclaimed artists of color being snubbed. 

But withstanding that, a number of chart-topping and otherwise-recognized musicians of color penetrated the listings. Some of them had their chart-topping success recognized with multiple nominations, with Nicki Minaj and The Weeknd both nominated for Artist of the Year. The Weeknd tied Ed Sheeran for second-most nominations (five each) behind Swift, largely off the success of his breakout single "Can’t Feel My Face," which was nominated for Song of the Year. Minaj received four nominations, going up against her old friend Drake in the Favorite Artist—Rap/Hip Hop category.

Most of the nominations are pretty predictable, with Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Fetty Wap, Wiz Khalifa, Rihanna and Kanye West, J. Cole, and other stand-out artists of color being recognized across several categories (many for collaborations). But some stood out to us. In particular, the nomination of RnB trailblazer D’Angelo’s "Black Messiah" (in concert with his band, The Vanguard) for Favorite Album—Soul/R&B, where he goes against The Weeknd’s "Beauty Behind the Madness" and Chris Brown’s "X," is of note. While we don’t predict that he will win, the inclusion of this acclaimed album (D’s first since 2000’s landmark "Voodoo") suggests that the music industry’s top execs are paying attention to more than album sales; while "Black Messiah" sold hundreds of thousands in the United States, it hasn’t come close to Swift’s multi-platinum "1989." 

The fan-decided AMAs will be hosted by Jennifer Lopez at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater on November 22 on ABC. Click here to see the full list of nominees, and click here to vote.