BY UMAR SA’AD HASSAN
That the Headies is still undoubtedly Nigeria’s biggest music award is a testament to the work Ayo Animashaun and his Smooth Promotions company have put into the brand over the last 12 years. So much so that the Headies have not been shaken much by three successive controversial editions.
But on the flip side, that it is still our biggest music award also says how insusceptible to positive change Africa’s largest entertainment industry is.
We have learnt to live with unprofessional record labels and look the other side when anyone wonders why our musicians still make little or nothing from record sales in this digital era but a decent ‘official’ award show is a must-have and it is shocking how artistes, brands and other stakeholders have remained firm in their support of the curse called the Headies.
This year’s edition got controversial as early as 72 hours to the main event. Nonso Amadi’s ‘Tonight’ was pulled out of the Best Male Vocal Performance and Best R&B categories for falling before the period under review and Flavour’s ‘Virtuous Woman’ got credited to Masterkraft instead of Cobhams in the best producer category.
Tekno was also listed in that category for his song ‘Rara’ which was produced by Selebobo. It got as disgraceful as that.
The awards proper.
BEST RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Simi’s sweet little voice will sound good on just about anything but its the attention to every other detail that makes Joromi a true masterpiece. The right delivery on the right beat for a borderline classical music style. Well deserved, but in all honesty, the songs she had to ward off can’t be said to be the best four other recordings of 2017. The competition wasn’t the best possible.
BEST POP SINGLE
1.ALL OVER YOU-TIWA SAVAGE
2.MAD OVER YOU-RUNTOWN
4.ISKABA-WANDE COAL FEAT DJ TUNEZ
There is simply no way to explain Davido’s ‘IF’ winning best pop single over Runtown’s ‘Mad Over You’. No hit song after has quite measured up the heights it reached. Asides from being without a doubt the country’s favourite song on the whole nomination list altogether, it is unarguably still Nigeria’s reigning global hit. Coca-Cola didn’t pair Runtown to make ‘Said’ with Nasty C because he had dreadlocks. They did so because they were the biggest artistes on the continent.
I would understand IF breezing past Wande Coal’s ‘Iskaba’ and Kiss Daniel’s ‘Yeba’ on a list without ‘Mad Over You’ but certainly not one with it.
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
4.COBHAMS (VIRTUOUS WOMAN, BUTTERFLIES)
5.SARZ (MARADONA, COME CLOSER)
6.SPELLZ (ISKABA, MA LO)
This was between Kiddominant, Spellz and Tekno before the organizers credited one of the songs Tekno was nominated for as produced by Selebobo. The statement issued by the headies did not tell us what would happen to the votes Tekno had gotten for both songs. The organisers would have been better off leaving out Cobhams and Selebobo instead of adding them to the list 48 hours to the awards; when voting had effectively closed.
Spellz could ride to this Headie on the back of Ma Lo alone if votes really counted. It is the freshest hit in the memory of the voters and it becomes a no contest when you accompany it with Wande Coal’s Iskaba. The Headies is as much a scam as it is a sham.
1.ROCK YOUR BODY-BURNA BOY
2.LOVE YOU DIE-PATORANKING FEAT DIAMOND PLATNUMZ
3.DANCE-TIMAYA FEAT RUDE BOY
Personally, I think 2baba’s song was the best of the lot and that it truly deserved the Headie. But this is a voting category and frankly speaking, as good as Holy Holy may be, it was one of the most slept on songs of 2017. It is hard to believe it would garner more votes than Wizkid’s Come Closer or Burna boy’s Rock Your Body. Well, 2baba is a good friend of the Headies.
BEST RAP ALBUM
2.TRIP TO THE SOUTH-ERRIGA
6.EL HADJ-REMINISCE (Winner)
First of, I really don’t understand why a category as huge as Best Rap Album is a non-voting one. It is not done anywhere else. Having said that, I can understand a Phyno snub because The Playmaker was largely pop and highlife. Like we already know Glory is arguably Olamide’s worst album ever and Erriga and AQ owe their places to a dearth of quality rap music; mere slot fillers whose nominations were in themselves victories.
This should have been a stroll in the pack for Falz’s 27. We saw a mature artiste who not only introduced us to the sober side of his game but one who was bold enough to try new things. He rapped for the first time in the mainstream without his signature Yoruba accent and even spiced things up with a little French. Whats more? On Something Light and La Fete, he made hits and that is something Reminisce’s El Hadj can’t boast of. It is at best a compilation of good songs with nothing to stand out.
BEST R&B/POP ALBUM
3.IJELE THE TRAVELLER-FLAVOUR
5.THIS IS ME-NINIOLA
6.SOUNDS FROM THE OTHER SIDE-WIZKID
Wizkid’s SFTOS was bound to benefit from the major buzz it enjoyed. The very first ‘true’ international album by a Nigerian artiste with guest appearances from some of the biggest names in world music. But on the scale of quality, it would get knocked out by Simi’s Simisola; the industry’s ‘official’ best album of 2017. Hell, it would even lose to Adekunle’s Gold. What’s a decent album to a great one?. A Headie winner. Sad.
BEST MUSIC VIDEO
1.LIKE DAT-DAVIDO (DAPS)
2.FOCUS-HUMBLESMITH (CLARENCE PETERS)
3.YOLO-SEYI SHAY (MEJI ALABI)
4.BEEN CALLING-MALEEK BERRY (MEJI ALABI)
5.MA LO-TIWA SAVAGE FEAT WIZKID (MEJI ALABI)
6.COME CLOSER-WIZKID FEAT DRAKE (DAPS)
This is one category the Headies hardly ever gets right but what makes this year’s edition more pathetic, asides the fact that the nominations were weak, is the huge disparity between deserving nominations and the eventual ‘chosen’ ones.
Conceptualisation, originality, creativity and costumes come to mind when people see a best video nominee list and it’s hard to rationalise the choice of Come Closer over Seyi Shay’s Yolo or Maleek Berry’s Been Calling. Not just one video better than Wizkid’s Come Closer but a solid two. Two very original videos with little or no dependence on digital effects.
I feel sad for Meji Alabi who everyone thought had made it a non-contest with Yolo and Been Calling. The Headies lists excitement as a criteria and Yolo in particular ticks that box way better than a Come Closer ever would. Nollywood actress Dorcas Sola Dapson captured it all in one word before she called out the winner – Ojoro!
BEST R&B SINGLE
2.ROMEO & JULIET-JOHNNY DRILLE
3.LET ME KNOW-MALEEK BERRY
4.LOVE YOU BABY-BANKY W
5.SMILE FOR ME-SIMI
Nonso Amadi’s Tonight was by far the best R&B song shortlisted for this award before it was withdrawn for falling outside the period under review. That made an already weak category much weaker. Admittedly, there was a dearth of quality R&B music in that period but categorising non-R&B songs as such demeans the organisers’ understanding of music. Simi’s Smile for me belongs in the alternative music category and Johnny Drille’s Romeo & Juliet was even much farther out from R&B. Well, Simi won. Girl can’t go wrong.
1.TEMPER REMIX-SKALES FEAT BURNA BOY
2.JUICE-YCEE FEAT MALEEK BERRY
3.COME CLOSER-WIZKID FEAT DRAKE
4.NO FORGET-ADEKUNLE GOLD FEAT SIMI
5.MA LO-TIWA SAVAGE FEAT WIZKID (Winner)
The Headies would sell this choice with a narrative on how voters are likely to vote for more recent songs. One of the very few cases they should win if asked to defend their choices but on a scale of merit, Ycee and Maleek Berry’s Juice would weigh more.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
I had heard the Fargin song a long time ago but I didn’t hold onto the artiste’s name. I only got to know it was Teni after she won this category. Music blog, tooxclusive.com ran a poll on who the public thought most likely to win Rookie Of The Year days before the event and that poll had only two names: Airboy and Junior Boy.
Those are the artistes people know most and are likely to vote, not Teni. On merit, Airboy deserved to win this Headie. He has generated quite a buzz with his songs and Ayepo is hot till this day.
Peruzzi stood no chance against the frontline two and for the love of God, what is a Ghanaian artiste doing here?
If the organizers loved Kidi so much, they should have slotted him into the best African act category. This is as huge a sham as the wrongful nomination of songs made outside the period of review and ones produced by the wrong persons. A disgraceful spectacle what the Headies has turned into.
BEST RAP SINGLE
1.UP TO U-SDC FEAT FUNBI
2.ME VERSUS ME-ICE PRINCE
3.SOMETHING LIGHT-FALZ FEAT YCEE
4.LINK UP-PHYNO FEAT MI AND BURNA BOY
5.YOU RAPPERS SHOULD FIX UP YOUR LIVES-MI
Here we see another huge gap between the eventual winner and the other songs on the list. In terms of quality, MI’s YRSFUYL would rank last. On the basis of fairness, this would be a fight between Phyno’s Link up and Falz’s Something Light with the SDC’s Up To U having the best outside chance of winning. MI’s YRSFUYL was powered solely by the controversy it generated. Not only ranking it among the best rap songs of the last year but also handing it the grand prize is much like throwing an A-list party for mediocrity.
BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE (MALE)
1.ROMEO & JULIET-JOHNNY DRILLE
3.LOVE YOU BABY-BANKY W
Nonso Amadi was my favourite to clinch this with Tonight and in his absence, it was a stroll in the park for Praiz. He really did pull some chords on Folashade. Well deserved.
BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE (FEMALE)
1.IN THE AIR-WAJE
2.GONE FOR GOOD-SIMI
3.WHERE IS THE LOVE-NIYOLA FEAT ADEKUNLE GOLD
Here we see an exception to the Simi golden voice rule but I would hand this to three songs before Omawunmi’s Butterflies. Vocal performance isn’t only putting a good voice to intense use, it is also putting it to the best use and as far as Omawunmi’s performance on Butterflies goes, there was a disruption of rhythm at key points and that affected fluidity.
Niniola was brilliant with a mildly intensive style on Saro and as usual, Simi’s vocal game on Gone For Good was excellent but Aramide deserves this better than anyone. On Jowo, she hit her notes and rode her rhythm fabulously in a breathtakingly simple style.
This award has generated the most controversy over the years but the Headies got it right this time. From Eleko, his break out hit to Che Che, everything Mayorkun touched turned to gold. The only competition in the line-up was Maleek Berry who himself has stayed consistent but overall, it must be said – the best man won.
LYRICIST ON THE ROLL
4.YOU RAPPERS SHOULD FIX UP YOUR LIVES-MI
First, this category is a weak one. The songs here are in no way the dopest lyrical offerings of 2017. SDC and Ikon’s Respect My name, Uzi and Dremo’s Stamina. Even Falz’s La Fete beats everything on this list.
People like me tagged MI’s YRSFUYL a hypocritical song not only because he hadn’t been on A-game as well but also because he was chastising rappers on having lost their way in the lamest possible lines. In an article I wrote criticising the song, I referred to it as a call to order in a baby’s voice that would infuriate more than intimidate. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing out of the ordinary about the lyrics of those songs. Though in pidgin, Erriga’s Industry Nite is my one-eyed king in the land of these blind nominations. He tells a unique story in some very brilliant lines.
BEST STREET HOP ARTISTE
2.SHEPETERI-IDOWEST FEAT DAMMY KRANE & SLIMCASE
3.PASS THE AGBARA-SKUKI
4.LEGBEGBE-MR REAL FEAT OBADICE & IDOWEST
6.PENALTY-SMALL DOCTOR (Winner)
This was, frankly speaking, the tightest category of the night. The organisers got the nomination spot-on. Penalty was a huge song no doubt but this is a voting category and since Legbegbe is still one of the hottest jams in the country right now, it should clinch this. Mr Real, Slimcase and Idowest are credited with introducing the Shaku Shaku wave that has swept through the industry and a lot of the songs they’ve released or featured on are still as fresh as day one. Shepeteri is almost as huge as Legbegbe and it is simply impossible to sell Penalty as the voted choice.
BEST ALTERNATIVE SONG
4.ROMEO & JULIET-JOHNNY DRILLE
5.FUN MI LOWO MI-ARAMIDE FEAT SOUND SULTAN & KOKER
This is where Johnny Drille’s Romeo & Juliet belongs and not the R&B category. Since ‘alternative’ in music connotes a break from regular musical trends, it is impossible for a song to be both alternative and R&B at the same time. Having said that, Aramide’s Fun Mi Lowo Mi tops every other song listed here if you count quality but if you really want to talk votes, Adekunle Gold’s Money will take this home.
HIP HOP WORLD REVELATION
4.REEKADO BANKS (Winner)
I said this two editions ago and I’ll say it again-there has to be some relationship between Ayo and Reekado Banks we don’t know about. The love the Headies have for the young man transcends what we can see.
With only a Dorobucci chorus and verse as the only concrete thing to point at, he was handed the Rookie of the year award in 2014 and in the following year, he was named next rated ahead of Kiss Daniel and Lil Kesh. That singular act handed the Headies its most memorable moment in recent times; rapper and YBNL boss, Olamide cursing out the organisers on stage. It didn’t stop there.
He also won best video ahead of Davido’s lovely ‘Dubai’ video for The Sound.
Now, Ayo and his gang of illusionists want us to believe Nigerians voted Reekado Banks the best artiste with a debut album in a category that includes Adekunle Gold, Niniola and Mr Eazi?. It’s just not possible. Adekunle Gold had Money and Niniola had Sicker and Saro. Mr Eazi had Leg Over in addition to enjoying the extra edge of being a fans’ favourite. Which hit did Reekado’s Spotlight album give us?
Nigerians would actually vote Reekado Banks over Mr Eazi, Adekunle Gold and the artiste with the freshest hits amongst the lot; Niniola? Gimme a break.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
1.IJELE THE TRAVELLER-FLAVOUR
4.SOUNDS FROM THE OTHER SIDE-WIZKID
This was indeed the people’s choice. Simisola had to kill everything on that list. It was a masterpiece.
This is a new category the organisers have listed as non-voting and surprisingly, they got it right. Yemi Alade ticks all the right boxes on stage. That I agree.
SONG OF THE YEAR
2.MAD OVER YOU-RUNTOWN
Other songs, maybe but the tsunami called Mad Over You would sweep away Davido’s IF in any fair fight. It is simply unjustifiable and I really feel sorry for Runtown. He lost out to IF in the best pop single category as well.
HEADIES VIEWER’S CHOICE
5.MAD OVER YOU-RUNTOWN
6.COME CLOSER-WIZKID FEAT DRAKE (Winner)
Virtually every music TV station across the globe has a viewer’s choice award and the Headies introduced it this year but this category has never made any sense to me. What is the point of having viewers vote for nominees you select for them? To qualify as a genuine people’s award, they would have to vote in the nominees first before the eventual winner. MTV introduced it in 1984 and it had the same nominees with its best video category up until 1994.
It really is pointless if the people don’t get to choose who and who vie for the award. And onto the nominations, the organisers in piecing up their winners’ list really should have taken into consideration the fact that the average Nigerian music enthusiast did not love Wizkid’s Come Closer extraordinarily.
It was driven more by the Drake collabo than its quality and we have passed the stage where we go bunkers for a song just because it has a superstar on it. Every other song on that list with the exception of Tekno’s Yawa were legit hits that Nigerians really loved.
And to further break it down, they loved Runtown’s Mad Over You most.
BEST AFRICAN ARTISTE
5.NASTY C (Winner)
Nasty C was the clear favourite for this category and it was great to see him win. South African rappers killing us out here and that right there is the number one hitman. However, it must be noted that this category wasn’t properly set out. If it was, Shatta Wale would not be missing from this list and he would have been C’s most formidable competition.
INDUSTRY BRAND SUPPORTER
LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
It was sapping to watch representatives of each of these ‘supporters’ called on stage to collect an award on their behalf. It took way too much time.
Picking one yearly and celebrating them more elaborately by specifically highlighting their contributions would not only save time but would also afford the general music public more insight as to their efforts at supporting the industry.
As the Nigerian music industry has grown over the years, a lot more people are getting involved either as dance instructors or choreographers. This special lady paved the way for them all. She literally made dance fashionable in these shores. Honour well deserved.
HALL OF FAME
Nigeria being a one-city music industry, Chris Ubosi’s Beat FM stands out as the number music station at the entertainment capital. He also owns Classic FM and Naija FM as part of his Megalectrics Limited. I am in no way saying this man hasn’t supported music in Nigeria but a music hall of fame should have names like King Sunny Ade, Onyeka Owenu and Sir Kollington Ayinla before inducting the Chris Ubosis of this world.
ARTISTE OF THE YEAR
This really was a most pleasant surprise. Prior to the night, I told someone my money was on Wizkid who had created so much buzz with his international status and mega collaborations but my heart was with Davido because he deserves it more.
While Wiz had consistency issues when it boiled down to the art itself, Davido was unstoppable-from IF to FIA to Like Dat. He kept the hits coming and it was great to see him get rewarded for that.
Conclusion: The Headies hit an epic low in its 12th edition with wrongful nominations, withdrawals, late nominations, wrongful categorisations and poor nominations. Add that to a high dose of the usual controversial winnings and you know it is time for the industry stakeholders to act fast in the best interests of Nigerian music by either supporting other existing award shows like the Soundcity MVP or pushing for the creation of new ones. This simply has to stop being our Grammys.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano and is on [email protected]
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