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

He said, “Until we start holding the government responsible, Nigerians will continue to die.”

Nice touch.

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.

Shockers

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.

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.

Falz

He might not have won the most awards, but he might have been the biggest winner tonight. Moral Instruction became the first 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.