As I walked towards my ride, a voice sprang up behind me, bemoaning the lack of recognition for Zlatan. In Yoruba, he says, “That boy Zlatan was treated unfairly.” Well, maybe or maybe not. The perpetual settings of awards will forever be ‘polarizing.’ That is why we are here.
Since nominees were announced on October 1, 2019, be it Naira Marley or Zlatan, we always have something to say and that is why we love to hate awards. On the night, 22 categories were awarded. Burna Boy had the biggest night with four (4) wins and he was closely followed by Falz and Teni on three (3) awards each.
Performers include Wurld, Duncan Mighty, Victor AD, Styl Plus and so forth.
On the night, there was glam, there were awkward moments and there were huge upsets that made people shout. The best moment of the night was when Nigerian DJ, Cuppy and Comedian, Bovi came onto the stage with each of them holding a cone of ‘Gelato.’ Talk about branding…
But as we walk into our homes, one wouldn’t be blamed for thinking Hip-Hop World should have tagged the 2019 Headies, ‘A Series of Shocking Events’ than ‘Power of a Dream.’ That dream might as well have been a nightmare. People’s faves and actual favourites for awards constantly got passed over.
Without further ado, here are the 7 talking points of the night;
Award or Rush Hour 4/The Unthinkable
‘Rush Hour’ is a pop culture reference brought on by the classic Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker flick of the same title. It has now become the direct reference for anything moving at breakneck speed. Well, if one didn’t know better, he might mistake the 2019 Headies for a Formula 1 arena.
The events were simply rushed and it was slightly unattractive. I understand, Hip-Hop World faces an uphill battle to throw a good show that manages to retain the attention of the audience. We also understand that the generation this award targets has a ridiculous attention span, but awards are carried by top performers/performances.
The Headies should have found a replacement for that. As they lacked an alternative, Nancy Isime and Reminisce became masters of fast-track. It was not entirely messy, but it wasn’t really good either.
If social media brought back that famous hashtag, #ThatAwkwardMoment, The Headies might just reign supreme for its role in promoting it. The night was filled with some very awkward moments. First off, I thought Nancy Isime was brought in to host. The night is about the winners, why was she so self-obsessed? Why did she constipate her audience with dry jokes?
Second, why in the world was Regina Daniels’ mother brought in to present an award? Who is she? Since this isn’t an award about Nollywood movies, can we please select better? Why in the world is Ubi Franklin presenting an award on the biggest stage? Will a person of his alleged character present an award in foreign climes? The answer is no.
Paul Okoye was recognized for his outstanding contributions to Nigerian music, but the OG spent the entirety of his speech talking ‘incoherence.’ He then ends his speech with, “I don’t want to talk much…” Well sir, we didn’t realize the five minutes before that was a soliloquy. We’re sure China heard you.
In a weird unfolding of all, Kemi Smallz and DJ Sose forgot the card that bears the name of the award winner. Like how? Another weird moment is Shody celebrating Falz‘s win for Best Rap Album than Falz himself.
However, nothing is as awkward as seeing Nigerian A-listers constantly get their awards by proxy. It was not a good look. They didn’t even have enough decency to make acceptance videos.
We will get to that in a minute.
Great moments: Sentiment and political chatter
One great moment was DJ Cuppy and Bovi reading simultaneously while licking cones of ‘Gelato.’ That moment promotes her latest single, ‘Gelato’ and made angry heads calm.
Another great moment was Styl Plus, the Nigerian R&B darlings of the 2000s thrill their fans who are now all grown up with classic numbers like, ‘Runaway,’ ‘Call My Name,’ ‘Imagine That’ and ‘Olufunmi.’ The audience stood up in synergy with the stage. This was very scarce on the night.
Call Blaqbonez whatever you want, but his ‘It is I’ moment was equally parts goofy and mad. He actually said it three times. Coming after a visibly overwhelmed AQ – his label boss, he lightened the mood, put himself in the spotlight and reveled in it.
Still on AQ, it was really nice to see him finally get that gong – He’s been here for 17 years. After the nominees dropped, he proclaimed that he would love to win and he did. It was also quite ironic that Nigerian legend, Ruggedman presented AQ with the award.
When AQ launched onto the scene, he was basically a troublemaker who went at everybody. In one his earliest singles, he gave Ruggedman the smoke. He never got a reply, but over 10 years later, here we are.
It was great to see Sunny Neji perform and also nice to see Yemi Alade bag Best Performer.
On a night that saw Falz‘s critically acclaimed album, Moral Instruction win big, one would be forgiven for seeing political chatter on the big stage as inevitable.
Leading the way, Falz. As he celebrated his Best Rap Single award for ‘Talk,’ he ended his speech with “Free Sowore.” Well…
Secondly, TV Personality, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu and Toke Makinwa presented an award, Ebuka bemoaned the deaths of Nigerians via tankers. The events unfolded within a few days in Nigerian cities of Onitsha (twice), Lagos and Ibadan.
He said, “Until we start holding the government responsible, Nigerians will continue to die.”
Dear Nigerian artists, please learn how to perform
Ladies and gentlemen, Nigerian artists need to learn how to perform. For the love of God, what was Victor AD doing on stage? Granted, it might have been hard to stir a cynical crowd, but what was that choral/angelic back-up doing on ‘Wetin We Gain’?
The same thing goes for Rema and Wurld. It almost seemed like the stage was too big for them to manage. This has to change; a good song cannot make a good performance. Most of the time, you need stage craft.
The night was filled with more shockers than commendable events. Granted, what social media will tag ‘shocker’ might not necessarily be the most contextual argument, but we saw some shockers earlier this morning. This is why this writer feels the event should have been tagged, ‘A Series of Shocking Events’
First off, why do the Headies keep naming a song of the year when that song won’t win its genre category? How did ‘Case’ win Best Pop Single over Burna’s ‘Ye’ which won song of the year? It makes no sense and it’s not even a voting category. Something smells and it’s not party jollof rice.
The worst case of twists is Seyi Shay winning Best R&B Single for ‘Gimme Love’ featuring Runtown. Like how? It’s not a voting category, so it should be about quality in songwriting, production, themes, vocal performance and production. This should have gone to ‘Serenade’ by Funbi. ‘Gimme Love’ is also not the most impactful song in that category.
Mayorkun‘s win for Best R&B/Pop Album is ridiculous. While Mayor of Lagos might the better and more enjoyable album, but Outside should have won this.
Teni’s win for Best Recording of the Year is almost as hilarious as Johnny Drille winning Best Alternative Song over Brymo’s ‘Olanrewaju.’ We’re talking about composition and songwriting here.
How is Teni’s vocal performance on ‘Uyo Meyo,’ which is a great song better than GoodGirl LA‘s on ‘Bless Me’? How is she better than Falana on ‘Repeat’? This is about vocal performance. Anybody can tell. It’s also not a voting category. How did Teni win Viewer’s Choice over ‘Ye’ by Burna Boy? The award is about popularity and success on streaming. So, how?
The wildest win was Chinko Ekun for ‘Able God.’ The criteria for the category reads, “…For the artiste whose songs are inspired by the streets. Such song should captain lingua, which may also be originated by the artiste and popular on the street…”
This criteria screams ‘Leg Work’ by Zlatan. The song championed a dance movement and ‘Gbese.’
Absenteeism of stars
We understand, ‘afrobeats to the world’ is in full swing and western capitalists are buying into it. We understand that the chance of making money in a more profitable industry is appealing. We also understand that having a shot at this means bigger schedules. We also know that Nigerian awards aren’t as glamorous or bougie as foreign awards.
It’s fine. It’s also fine to have grievances against an award show for snubbing you. It’s fine if you then decide to have your revenge that snub when you make it big by the big bad ‘boycott.’ It’s all good. But then, there is another side to this conversation. Ego comes with achievement and ego can also be disruptive.
‘Afrobeats to the world’ is only a phase for America. It happened with Dancehall, Reggae and Eastern European Dance Music. It will soon come to an end. By that time, some people will have become genuine cross-over stars, but the truth is that only a few people will be in that class. People outgrow things, but feeling too big is a problem of stardom.
One of the reasons the Headies became a drab affair at times tonight was because the A-listers were missing. Their performances would have rallied a crowd. Win after win was met with an acceptance by proxy and terrible acceptance speeches from most of those proxies. It’s also fine if the Headies denied certain people awards for lack of attendance.
Even Johnny Drille missed the show. Zlatan missed the show and Killertunes, a producer who doesn’t realize that even the top producers have ephemeral careers missed the show. You can choose to do whatever with your presence, but be careful how you portray yourself.
When ‘afrobeats to the world’ ends, what will become of certain people? Will they start catering to a media they ignored and spat on? Wizkid is understandable, but the rest are just laughable. These artists will not do this to MTV. Yes, life comes in stages, but sometimes, you honour things out of respect.
If certain artists were snubbed tonight because they missed the show, I don’t have a problem with that. People seldom win Grammy awards when they don’t attend.
Snub for an award is not about disrespect. If you prove the award wrong, then it’s about you, not the mistake of that award.
He might not have won the most awards, but he might have been the biggest winner tonight. Moral Instruction became the fourth rap album to win Album of the Year. Say what you want, but it deserves it. Of the nominated albums, it is better produced with the best themes and it is a more enjoyable listen.
Falz’s Moral Instruction is the only one of the nominated albums that ticks all boxes of overall quality, good production, content, commercial success and genuine impact. That is not cheap. It’s not about rappity-rap. What does your rap do? Who is listening? How accessible is this rap?
Look no further than when the silence was deafening, with no cheer from the fans as some of our favourite rappers were called out by name. A lot of people don’t know them. Falz has trascended that into a space of accessibility to the mainstream. That is why he is more popular. That’s why he gets the cheers.
Is he the best rapper? No. But does he make the most appealing music? Definitely.
Some of these talking points will get individual articles.