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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The 15th Headies In Review

In the words of Roman general and statesman Gaius Julius Caesar, ”Veni, vidi, vici’ Latin words translated to English means ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.” Great inspirational words that can inspire courage, belief and total resolve in anyone be it an individual, country or organisation like the Headies, but the question is, did the Headies conquer the United States with this edition of its award show?


The 15th Headies award was held in Atlanta USA on 4th September 2022. The show was hosted by Emmy-nominated actor Anthony Anderson and award-winning Nigerian actress Osas Ighodaro. It was tagged “Stars Are Made In Lagos” with a clarion call to #JoinTheMovement now. Did the tag live up to the hype of the award show?


This year’s edition of the awards may have come and gone but the moments, memories and lessons it left behind can not be overemphasised. In this piece, I will be giving an in-depth review of the just concluded award show for your reading pleasure.



I kick off this review with the bliss of the red carpet which for all intentions should be the showcase of the top and trending cuts in the world of fashion, adored by our beloved celebrities and them answering questions about their glorious wears, their hopes, activities, anticipation and predictions for the night of the award show. The Paparazzi should have a big feast on these displays of style, class and culture but no it was a shadow of itself making you wonder if this was the red carpet of the most prestigious award in the Nigerian music industry.

According to reports many of the members of the Headies Academy were unable to attend the award show due to visa-related issues and even the red carpet host was allegedly the only individual from HipTV that made it to the event and by all accounts, the host was not rooted in red carpet glamour, could the Headies not get the services of Toke Makinwa, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Uti Nwachukwu, Sika Osei or my good friend Miriam Cole to do justice to this joint.


The fashion show would have made sense if it was executed properly, why have a runway show that had no class, style or standard? Just a bunch of fellas on African prints, walking around the runway like amateurs, is the height of unprofessionalism.

The Nigerian factor had its way again, as the show started two hours late, the opening sequence by the hosts was just there for me, no energy, the performance by Pheelz was dope except for the poor transition and unprofessional clearing of the stage. This I blame on those responsible for handling that affair.

You see on paper, Emmy-nominated actor Anthony Anderson and award-winning Nigerian actress Osas Ighodaro would seem like the perfect combination for the hosts of an award show of such magnitude, as they both represent two different cultures with a unifying factor called Afrobeats to the world. But that was not the case, Anthony seem jumpy throughout the show and anxious. His jokes (African Impressions, words and accent) were over the top, maybe he did it deliberately to show the disparity between Africans and Black Americans, I don’t think that was the place to reinforce or showcase such stereotypes about Black people.


Kudos to him though for calling out top Nigerian acts on their B.S for failing to attend the award show. According to him, he was told that he will meet Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tems, Davido, Ckay and a host of others at the award show to his great disappointment. Anthony Anderson is a great actor, comedian and award show host as his records speak for themselves when he co-hosted the BET 2015 awards with his on-screen wife from the ‘Blackish’ franchise Tracee Ellis Ross. The crux of the matter is that it was not just executed well.

Osas Ighodaro, on the other hand, did the best she could do in, I just wished they had used my celebrity crush Nancy Isime, as the female host of this show that girl is solidly grounded in Afrobeats to a fault. This is no shade to Osas, she is a wonderful actress, host and humanitarian. I just wished things happened under better circumstances. But she really did a great job despite all the ‘doings’ of the night.



To me, Ruger had the best performance of the night, as he showcased that he was truly a certified lover boy no diss to Drake, a real bad man in Dior and finally a Yoruba demon to the core with hit record ‘Girlfriend’ which some critics think should be the official anthem of all Yoruba demons and he waited no time in declaring it to all who cared to listen.


BNXN gave a good account of himself just that the poor lad had some technical issues with the band’s instrumentalists, as they were playing off key for him coupled with bad sound and reception. Although he made up for it at the end with his sellar acapella performance of some tracks from his recently released project ‘Bad Since ’97’ which by the way is a good body of work.


Adekunle Gold had a lit performance, as he lived up to the hype of Anthony Anderson when he announced his performance and he called him an African rock star which he most definitely is. Flavour as always killed it with his performance, him winning the Headies for the best live performer in the past was no understatement, as he came true with culture and doings to shut down the event. He even left many people hanging by not finishing a song off his set as his own chosen way of exiting the stage.

Kcee’s performance was fair enough, Asake may be the hottest thing now in the Nigerian music industry but things were not aligning for him that night in respect to his performance, as those technical issues I spoke of earlier concerning BNXN, affected him also and he at some point was singing off-key. Though he held his own as the superstar that he is to that effect. Fireboy DML did his best but I guess these technical issues na national cake, as the thing touch everybody.


D’banj is the Koko Master and he even in the past said no long thing but in all sincerity, he overstayed his time on stage. I understand that he was the one who had the last performance for the night but come on, it was quite something guys. By the way who off the lights while he was still performing on stage notwithstanding he gave a performance, worthy of an entertainer that he is and Psquare made a cameo appearance on stage and graced him out of the stage.



Over the past few years, the Headies has become more inclusive in the nominations and awarding of outstanding acts over the years in Nigeria and beyond. This year’s edition was quite fair in terms of the nominations and almost all those awarded were deserving except the category for the ‘Best Digital Artist’ which clearly belongs to Ckay, not Davido. I mean Ckay has had a great run this year with streams, multiple certifications, records and shut-down concerts around the world to show for it. One may argue that Davido has more of these to speak for him cumulatively. But we are talking about the year in review not years.


Another thing I found disturbing was the lack of ushers for the presentation of the awards, poor award presentation, some of the presenters even had to go backstage to get the right materials for the awards they were going to present and we had too many foreign award presenters, is this necessary or maybe it’s due to the location of the award show.


The production of this year’s edition did not fail to meet the history of poor production the Headies is known for and this year’s award show was not an exception despite its relocation to the United States, though some critics argue there were some improvements in the production quality but it made no big change to the status quo. The Headies in all honesty has an infamous reputation of being very disorganized. This has resulted in a lack of proper planning, bad execution, no structure and poor production quality. A lot of technical issues ranging from sound, lights, nominations/award montage and the ineffective band, abound in the course of this show.


There are different perspectives on the reason why the award was held in the United States. It works for all sides of the conservations, the glitz of hosting an African award on foreign has its perks, as it is a great way to postulate the agenda for Afrobeats. In the past, there have been awards by MTV Base, for Africa when they felt the heat in the music on the continent. Right now there is a serious power dynamic going on, the Grammys, BET and MTV awards are way more desirable than our awards. There is way more interest in American pop culture than African/Nigerian pop culture, this is no caps but facts.


So they have more leverage in this joint than us which is why we are pushing the movement to the globe. This edition of the award show is one of the most attended, as Nigerian artistes don’t attend award shows in Nigeria, let alone have regard for them. So it was great that many attended the show though it can be attributed to the award being held in America. The AMVCAs is, without doubt, the number one award show in Nigerian according to critics. This year’s AMVCAs just confirmed it, the Headies need to do better and get their acts together. Though their consistency for the past 15 editions of this award show should be venerated.




Mr Ayo Animashaun and Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu

Mr Ayo Animashaun the man behind the Headies, needs to be applauded for his contributions to the industry and culture. According to Veteran actor, musician and director Baba Dee, it takes the Nigerian spirit to do what he did by taking the award to the states. In his words, ”We are owning the narrative on Afrobeats, if you don’t control your narrative, somebody else will. So what the Headies did was to stamp theirs as the first Afrobeats award, rewarding the right thing.”


Baba Dee

He added that Afrobeats is no longer Lagos, Festac, it is a global thing and if we are not positioning ourselves in the global space, somebody will help us position it and change the narrative. He praised the initiative of the Headies as it will help us own the narrative on Afrobeats.

The Headies needs to do a lot to create a great legacy of excellence and make a positive impact across all boards. There need to set up a board of trustees, better-voted academy members, a more democratised structure and proper planning. They have been here since 06 writing this great story of Hip-hop and Afrobeats like the noble words of Fireboy DML, which I just referenced.

Well, I hope fate deals the Headies better cards in the years to come.

Solomon Obi
Solomon Obi
Solomon Obi is a writer and content creator. He loves sharing his innate thoughts on Nigerian pop culture. His hobbies include reading and movies. We all are on a voyage of discovery to unearth the never-ending infinite of knowledge.

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