Christian Slater’s statement: “good judgement comes from experience. Sometimes, experience comes from bad judgement” should be made into a tape and played on rotation at the venues where the winners of this year’s music awards would be decided. The history of music awards in Nigeria is not without debatable verdicts.
These verdicts sometimes develop into controversies like Olamide’s outburst at the 2016 Headies Awards and the saga between Young Jonn and Kiddominant following the 2017 SoundCity MVP Awards. The forthcoming award events present new opportunities for music award judges to make accurate decisions and the opportunities must be seized if the awarders are to fix the cracks in their reputation.
BurnaBoy’s History With Headies
This year, eyes would be on the ratings of Burna Boy at the Awards; and on whom among Teniola and Peruzzi the awarders would tip to become the next superstar after Mayorkun and Maleek Berry.
There’s a lot of interest in what the Headies’ panel of judges would say of Burna Boy’s outing this year, after wrongly leaving the judgement of his potential to the fans, in 2013, resulting in a verdict which remains one of the biggest misses of the Headies since its announcement as a body which places a premium on artistic ingenuity.
Burna Boy’s breakthrough single, “Like To Party”, was welcomed as a genre-transcending phenomenon which ticked the box of artistic ingenuity. He built on his mainstream success with the release of the futuristic “Tonight”, which, as at 2013, already had the element of vibe that characterises some of the top pop Nigerian music today. Sean Tizzle’s club-music habit, however, turned out to be more popular among the deciding fans.
Burna Boy reacted to the decision by excusing himself from the Headies hall and from all that has to do with the award. Instead, he searched for fulfilment in delighting his fans who enjoy the intimacy of listening to his reflections about life’s bittersweet experiences on his records.
Burna Boy’s Successful 2018 Run
This year has perhaps been the most eventful for Burna Boy since the start of his career and the first time in a longtime that his creative brilliance is getting due acknowledgement from the wider audience.
Burna Boy made the best of a good start. The early timing of “Heaven’s Gate” and the cross-continental popularity it achieved, set the tone for the success of his sixth project – the home-inspired “Outside” album. The 13-track album was released at a time when most of his peers were searching for substance for their first single of the year in the “Shaku Shaku” trend.
By combining both positive critical reception and commercial success, “Outside” is among the albums to beat this year. The popularity of one of it’s constituent songs, “Ye”, is one of the biggest success stories in the industry in 2018. The song embodies the spirit of a Nigerian hustler who would go after his or her goals even in the face of a scary reality. This message resonates with the Nigerian populace, particularly the youths who have asked that “Ye” be adopted as the new National anthem because the song reflects their case better than the two stanzas of the Nation’s official anthem.
The popularity of “Ye” made it into the book of lore as it inspired an iconic performance which saw about 5000 Brixton fans voluntarily switch to the role of performer, while Burna watched from the stage in a rare moment of greatness. His soaring profile as an Afrobeats ambassador on the International stage was reaffirmed when he was named YouTube Music’s Artiste On The Rise, with his image on the famous billboard in Times Square, New
Burna Boy’s 2018 form extended to his singles, collaboration and even his freestyles are impressing. “Gbona”, one of Burna’s brand of feel-good music climbed the charts in the U.K. and here in Nigeria. His most recent single “On The Low” is already showing the potentials of a hit song. He gave essence to the star-studded “Baba Nla” which has gained social relevance owing to his attenuation of his time with the cops concerning his alleged involvement in the attack on Mr. 2Kay. “Barking”, which is originally a cover to Ramz’ wavy debut song, was introduced to the Nigerian pop scene by Burna Boy’s cover version, which turned out to inspire more covers.
When the big musicians choose their producers strictly on the basis of profile size and trends, how would the yet-to-be-known producers get their names heard? Burna Boy’s confidence in Kel-P and Phantom, this year, has resulted in successes for him, and the promising producers. “Ye” for instance, comes with a tone that’s distinct from what is popular in the Nigerian music scene, yet the brilliance of its makers and the reality in the message that it carries, helped it to the peak of popularity. If inventiveness is to be rewarded, Burna Boy would give that acceptance speech on the Headies stage this year.
From the history of the awards, the major factors considered in the selection of Artist of the Year are: commercial success, International achievement and general influence on the music scene. Burna Boy meets these criteria with his 2018 show of consistency, ingenuity, popularity (both on the local and International field) and his impact on the Nigerian music culture. His strongest competitors, I believe, would be Wizkid and M.I Abaga (for his role in
reviving Hip-hop in Nigeria and for pushing out 2 impressive projects). Because the final verdict would come from the adjudicators this time, not the fans, the stakes are high.
Some of their decisions in the past raised questions of the system’s credibility – questions raised by the likes of Lil Kesh’s former manager, Wale Applause, who inferred in his jarring publication that the Awards are not free from external influence. These questions need answers – answers the world would be looking for in the verdicts at the end of the year, particularly in the case of Burna Boy who the same fans who denied him at the 2013 Headies Awards are now cheering him to victory.