FLIPPING THE SCRIPT BACK AND FORTH: SOME REMARKS ON THE HEADIES, 2015

“Flip the Script”, the theme of the 10th edition of this year’s Headies award presentation indeed, either paradoxically, or, true to its theme, proved to be a flipping of the script. Sadly, I must say, it ended with flops. Lol. Well, this piece was written in the heat of the moment—after Olamide pulled an ill-advised stunt: coming on stage to declare that his boy, Lil Kesh, the shoki-crooner, deserves the award for next-rated more than the winner—Reekado Banks of the Mavins’ crew. What I hope to do in this piece is to comment on what I consider sensitive twists and turns in the event and the lessons to be learnt from’t. The most sensitive—which is the Kanye stunt pulled by Olamide’s led YBNL crew—will be given the final thump. Read on… Read well.

I wasn’t surprised when Vector clinched the awards for “Best Rap Single” and “Lyricist on the Roll” with the rap-hit “King Kong”. To really get the drift, you must first understand that there was/is an on-going tension amongst rappers in Nigeria about who is the best rapper amongst acts such as M.I, Olamide, Reminisce, and Vector the Viper. First it started with Reminisce stating in his hit collabo “Local Rapper”, in which Remi claims he is the best rapper. Olamide, in his year-end release (“Eyan May Weather”) also made a controversial statement asserting that he’s the “Best Rapper” too. This is quite funny because both of them have always claimed not to be interested in the tag ‘best rapper’ as they are in being ‘rich rappers’. Is this a case of clothing ego in the face of incompetence? You answer that. Of course, every rapper should claim to be the best. It’s part of the game. That’s what makes rap interesting! But it becomes an issue when there is actually a tussle amongst artistes, however concealed. While they have formally ended their beef with each other, the awards for “Best Rap Single” and “Lyricist on the Roll” remains a coveted prize for all rappers as it stamps their claims to being reckoned as the best rapper in Nigerian Music Industry.

Let me let out my heart before it’s too late: those who know what rap is, truth be told, knows that what most of our so-called rappers do are pseudo-raps. To cut the long story short, even though Remi and Baddoo (Olamide) have both claimed to be the best rappers in their own right, the award of “Best Rap Single” and “Lyricist on the Roll” to Vector is not only apt, but also encouraging as it affirms that at least some heads are still working in Nigerian Music Industry: recognizing what should pass as dope rap-lyrics and what shouldn’t. Let me explain briefly before you take me on’t. Punch-lines or wordplays are still the main ingredients of true rap. Unfortunately, because a better part of the Nigerian community settle for less (or no) content, preferring more flow and beat, few good rappers worth their salt cut it when it comes to the invoice, the cheques and all that, but it doesn’t make them loose respect for their craft by selling out (thus soiling it).I for one have always clamoured for the need for artistes to focus on their craft even as they make street-credible hits. M.I couldn’t have said it better, do music for the legacy too! Today, we see many of our artistes lifting lines and tunes from the songs of the Victor Uwaifos, Osadebes and Felas of the older generation. I wonder whether that would have been possible if these legends didn’t leave behind a legacy of good music.

While many so-called rappers claim to do rap, what they actually do is speak in tune with dope rap beats. Most of them lack lyrical depth. Rap—an acronym which means “Rhythm and Poetry”—is made of more than what many so-called rappers-turned-singers in Nigeria do today. A serious analysis of their ‘rapped’ verses reveals much rhythm, but little or no poetry—the metaphors, word plays, punch-lines of true rap. (Little wonder the category of Lyricist have never featured many of the so-called mainstream rappers we often flank as top in Nigerian music). This’s where you’ll find the Mode 9s and the Vectors.

Vector

And yes, Vector’s “King Kong”’s earning him “Best Rap Single” and “Lyricist on the Roll” has vindicated him again as one of 9ja’s finest breed along with Mode 9 when it comes to dropping punch-lines wey dey give koko. Now Olamide, little surprising, did not merit even the place of nominee in this year’s Headies for both categories—best rap single and lyricist on the roll. Before you throw stones at me, I should state that Olamide’s hits in 2015 were not raps. They were verses he warbled. (And this is not about beefing local rappers; a Sarkodie (of Ghana), a CassperNyovest or a K.O (of South Africa)drops dope lines in their local dialect anytime).The other artistes who were contenders for the prize—Terry tha Rapman, Mode 9, IllBliss, and Remi, are also dope. They are good; but compared to Vector’s “King Kong”, they didn’t do better. It’s a voting category, so it was fans who gave this verdict. Olamide’s award for “Best Street-Hop” for the song, “Shakiti Bobo”, is also well deserved. But street-hop is not hip-hop (even at the level of spellings). Lol. And Olamide didn’t rap in “Shakiti Bobo” for that matter, if you know what I mean.

Next is the award for the “Best Rap Album”. Last year Headdies saw an Olamide winning this category, despite the fact that Phyno’s album was more deserving of this award. Olamide’s so-called rap album that year, truth be told, was not as “rap-ish” as Phyno’s. You only need to check them out to confirm, and you’ll see that Olamide’s singing got the better of that album compared to Phyno’s rapping. It was a non-voting category so one can claim that he was actually given the award. Nobody protested because Olamide was also a strong voice to reckon with anyway. This year, I must say that Reminisce was more deserving of the award for “Best Rap Album” than M.I. Notice I said more deserving. M.I’s album was great! His “Bad Belle” made a hit indeed and “Bullion Van” also had steady airplays. But Remi’s rap-hits in his own album had more weight—talk of “Baba Afusa”, “Poison”, “Local Rapper”, the song that got him the award for “Best Collabo” in the same Headies. But Remi didn’t come out to damn the organizers for this… they didn’t give him…life goes on!

Next is the award for the best producer of the year—which was won by Legendary Beatz for Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba”, which may pass as last year’s National anthem in terms of ratings. Some dissenting voices on social media have claimed that Young Jon was more deserving of the award. That’s quite untrue. Before making such conclusions, did you see the names of the nominees in this category?  Don Jazzy, Cobhams Asuquo, Legendary Beatz, etc. All these producers made reputable beatz last year (you might as well check out the songs they produced and the ratings those songs got both locally and internationally). Awarding this category to Young Jon would have simply meant that they just wanted to encourage the young chap. The song, “Ojuelegba” by Wizkid, which got Legendary Beatz the award, in terms of quality and ratings, surpasses all the others in the list! It should not be surprising if Legendary Beatz’s “Ojuelegba” becomesa classic in time, while Young Jon’s “Shakiti Bobo” fades in time. To add to it, it was Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba” that got the award for “Song of the Year”. Both were hits anyway, and Young Jon’s being amongst the nominees surely means that he’s got a stake in the bizniz.

As it were, flipping the script went on smoothly despite some of these sensitive issues until the time all had been waiting for came: the award of a brand new Hyundai car to the “Next Rated” Act awardee of the year. This prize has become the most hyped award in the Headdies. It is the moment most advertised, most celebrated, and most lusted after, especially amongst the nominees. And the organizers made sureof making much ado about it that they got the nominees and enthusiasts perhaps too emotionally involved. That said, the moment finally came and Reekado banks of the Mavins’ (Don Jazzy’s) crew clinched the coveted-prize, to the disappointment of many who have expected Lil Kesh to emerge as the winner. But what would become an infamous show of immaturity came later, when Adekunle Gold won the award for “Best Alternative Song” of the Year. Olamide took this opportunity to let out his disappointment and anger over the turnout of the award for “Next Rated” Act. In sum, his words and attitude amounted to a danmning of “everybody” for the perceived injustice.

Quite disappointing and funny though, many die-hard fans of Olamide, rather than condemn his miscreant behaviour, would rather focus on Don Jazzy’s humiliation of their manafterwards, while excusing Olamide’s actions with expressions such as “he was justifiably angry”, “he was probably high on alcohol” and “he didn’t even mention anybody’s name”. Suddenly everyone has become good students of law and semantics. Lol. When Olamide said “f**k everybody”, he has some people in mind.That phrase, “f**k everybody”, may, as some persons have opined, apply to the organizers of the event. But where I am concerned, that phrase applies to “everybody” that doesn’t agree with Olamide’s claim that Lil Kesh was robbed of the award—all those who didn’t find it unfair—and this covers Reekado himself, his fans (especially those who voted him), the organizers of the award, Don Jazzy and his entire Mavins crew, and even observers who didn’t feel Reekado was underserving of the award both in the venue and a host of others who watched it on TV. Olamide succeeded in using this phrase to insult thousands of persons in reality. Chai!

But before I whip those culpable, I should make some necessary declarations. I am a great (but not a blind) fan of Olamide and his entire team of next rated artistes such as Lil Kesh (being the foremost), Adekunle Gold, Victoh, and even Chinko Ekun. They have all produced music that meets the cravings of most Nigerians, their credibility ultimately coming from the streets (Igboro). I am also a great (but not a blind) fan of Don Jazzy and his entire team of stunning artistes—both established and next rated—from Tiwa Savage to Dr, Sid, D Prince, Dija, Korede Bello, and Reekado Banks (being the hottest of the team in present ratings). I am a great (but not a blind) fan of all the nominees in the category for “Next Rated” category—from Lil Kesh and Kiss Daniel to Cynthia Morgan, Korede Bello and Reekado Banks. That they got nominated in the first place is enough to show that they are all next rated. (In reality, though, the history and pattern of the award is really not fornext rated, but for latest rated. They only give it to voices that have established a market for themselves in the music industry. All of dem don already blow, dem don dey rated already). So I was hoping that the organizers would surprise the audience by flipping the script—a phrase which means doing something unexpected or revolutionary; reversing the usual of existing situation—by giving each of them the award (or, at least, more than one person this time). If they had done it this way, it would have been a landmark, a milestone, and a welcome development since it is about encouraging the nominees. Well, they didn’t‘break from the norm’ on that.

So Reekado emerged as the winner of the coveted prize, and Olamide (and his YBNL crew) could not bottle their pain—they felt cheated. Minutes later, Olamide seized the opportunity of Adekunle’s acceptance speech for the award of “Best Alternative Song of the Year” toflip the script. After Gold gave his thanks, Olamide took the microphone:

“Adekunle Gold let’s be honest, this award belongs to Lil Kesh, because Lil Kesh is our Next Rated artist”, he said. “Every single was a hit back to back, from ‘Lyrically’ to ‘Shoki’ to ‘Efejoku’”.

After saying this, he cursed—“ko ni da fun Iya anybody” (A Yoruba expletive involving the mother of the recipient)—at the event before dropping the microphone on the ground and walking off stage (and off the event with his entourage). Minutes later, when Mavin Records boss Don Jazzy was giving his speech after he received a Special Recognition Award, he counter-flipped Olamide’s script. He said he had told Korede Bello and Reekado Banks who he referred to as his “children” not to look at the list of nominees when it came out as he had already promised he would buy them cars. He then fired back at Olamide saying:

“Egbon Olamide, if you want the car, come and collect it”

Don-Jazzy-Olamide

After which he and the Mavin entourage left the event. The rest of the story abounds on social media (Twitter and Instagram). Do well to check them out yourself. Olamide’s-led YBNL heated (mis)behaviour, which was the catalyst of the entire saga, and, later, Don Jazzy’s-led Mavins Records (mis)behaviour, ultimately brought what would have been one of the finest edition of the award to an abrupt end, leaving many ‘Headies’ turned up-side-down. Lol.

It is a mark of maturity to be able to express one’s feelings respectfully, especially when it involves emotionally-charged issues. (If you have engaged in an argument over religion before you’ll appreciate this point better). It doesn’t make your argument lose its force. To my mind, Olamide’s reaction on stage is totally immature and totally unjustifiable. Even if it was only the organizers he had in mind, as people have tried to argue in his defense, his curse—“ko ni da fun Iya anybody”—still amounts to utter public display of arrogance and disrespect. To think that he could utter such to the organizers that had taken it upon themselves to promote people like him in the industry by giving them awards for their talents and hardwork clearly makes him not only disrespectful, but also ungrateful. The Nigerian music industry wouldn’t have come this far but for heads like Mr. Animashaun who thinks big by supporting our musicians with regular airplays and rewards. To think that he was hoping his boy would win a Hyundai car from these organizers in the first place. Na so dis worl be!

The ill-advised Kanye stunt he pulled at the Headies is unwarranted. On another angle, given the fact that Olamide’s YBNL didn’t shine in the event as he had envisaged, one may think of the Kanye-like act as a good publicity stunt on his part. As I have said earlier, all the nominees are already rated artistes, that one of them won it does not mean that the others become picky and defensive. It should have been accepted in the spirit of sportsmanship by all. And it was, except for Olamide and his crew.They should learn from Yemi Alade on this.

Perhaps a few explanations would further show why the claim was unjustified. Had Cyhthia Morgan, Kiss Daniel, or Korede Bello had won it, would it have been unfair? An absolute NO! If it would have been unfair for any of the nominees to emerge as winner over Lil Kesh, then nominating them was a pointless endeavour in the first place. Olamide’s claim that Lil Kesh’s back to back hits should earn him the award shows that he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word contest. If, all other things being equal, the award fell under a voting category, Olamide has no justification to “fuck everybody” who made it happen for Reekado, except he (and his die-hard fans) can provide evidence, NOT FLIMSY ASSUMPTIONS, that the voting process was truncated or rigged in favour of Reekado Banks.

All the contestants stood a chance of winning the award since it was clearly indicated that it was a voting category. Weeks to the event saw all the nominees seriously campaigning for votes from fans and well-wishers. What was he even thinking sef? At that point any reasonable person should have realized that it wasn’t about who deserved it more. It was about the number of clicks—and no one should tell me that all of the nominees would not get the support of their respective record labels if they must secure the needed votes to clinch the prize. Winners of Project Fame, Idols, and every other competition that involve voting (including elections into political offices all over the world) should at least tell one that in such cases, it more about numbers than merit. Olamide’sfailed effort at using all within his power to secure the needed votes for his signee is a testament that, after all, there are levels to real Jabanism and MVP-ism. Reeky won best rookie over Kesh in the 9th edition of the Headies. And now he has won next-rated over kesh again. Don Jazzy has clearly beaten Olamide twice to his chagrin when it comes to securing the needed votes for their signees.I feel your pain egbon Olamide. Lmao.

For those who are bent on insisting that Don Jazzy must have used his influence in the industry to get Reeky the award, here is my reply: on the part of Reeky Banks and Lil kesh personally, Reeky has more fan base who are internet savvy and are more likely to sponsor, promote and actually vote him than Lil Kesh. (You can make your findings and take me on this later. I am waiting). More than that, Reeky’s style of music features both a relatively lyrically positive content and rhythm, and is thus appealing to virtually every class of persons. “Katapot”, the song which gave him the award, is a song all class of music enthusiast all over Nigeria would listen to anytime. Unfortunately, Lil Kesh’s style of music features less/no positive contents—the salt of good music. Many responsible listeners would never approve of the vulgarisms, sexually-explicit, and misogynistic lyrics that features in most of Keshi’s verses. And this is not about being moral here. Let’s call a spade a spade! His songs are more suited to persons who care less about message than beats; hence it was more of a club-banger kind of song.

Moreover, amongst the majority of Keshi’s fans in the so-called streets/mainland in Lagos, which makes over 80% of his fan base, chances are that only about  20% or less of these would have actually voted for him. Most of his fans on the streets, sad to say, are below average in IQ and, for many of them, Naira bet is more important than spending cash or data on their boy, Keshi. This is usually what happens when many people support a candidate but do little or nothing to ensure they win. And before we limit perspective, the voting wasn’t limited to Lagos alone. It was open to the entire Nigeria—billions of individuals with diverse tastes and interest in music. I think some of our Nigerian artistes—like Davido and Wizkid—are beginning, and ought, to realize that general recognition and approval does not come from singing only for a limited class of persons.

And yes, if Don Jazzy and other members of the Mavin crew pull forces together to support Reeky, I am sure that Olamide’s influence and connections in the industry doesn’t stand a chance. Recognizing this should have already alerted him to the high possibility of his signee losing to Don Jazzy’s. In that case his protest should have started from the very onset. He should have made it clear that he doesn’t prefer the voting process. But no, that’s the way it’s been done. And that’s hypothetically the best way it ought to be done. Until Olamide (and others) can provide evidence to the contrary, I will insist that it was fans’ support that made Reeky the next rated!

That said, I should re-stress it here that they are all talented and rated artistes, so if Kiss Daniel, Cynthia Morgan or Korede had won it, it would not have been unfair still. It is not about having hits back to back. And is it only about hits? What about the content of the hits? What about style? If we bring all these factors together, we might as well claim that Kiss Daniel is more-deserving of the award than the others for the general approval his two hits—“Woju” and “Laye”—got all over Nigeria, plus the rich content and style of these hits. And Cynthia Morgan had already clinched an award for herself for that matter before then. As for Korede’s “God Win”, almost everyone enjoyed it—young and old, Christians and Muslims, all over Nigeria! That song got Korede performing in shows that the other nominees could not have dreamt of! Talk about Politicians dancing to it after election. Lol. The song had already got him an award for best pop single.

And before you claim it’s only “God Win” that made a hit, let me remind you that Timi Dakolo bagged four good awards with only one song that morning. Let’s not even talk about all the awards given to Adele for the single hit, “Set Fire to the Rain” at the Grammy Awards. Or Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers who got numerous Grammies for only one hit song, “Get Lucky”. My point: back to back hits is not enough a criteria to place Lil Kesh above the other equally-talented artistes. Olamide has no justification to insult the intelligibilities of those who made it happen for Reeky because, unfounded assumptions aside, it was about the votes. Olamide’s action remains ill-conceived, disrespectful and unbecoming. If he doesn’t apologize, it could cost him his career as an ambassador as no brand wants to be associated with an irresponsible person.

Enough on Olamide. Where is that subs-catching Don? Oya come here and take your own share of the lashes! Although Olamide has to take more lashes, where I am concerned, for displaying an “agbero-ish” unexamplary conduct to the general public and his fans, Don Jazzy also deserves a punch in the head too. He should have stopped, having indicated that he’s not award-crazy and left the stage. That would have been more effective and a plus to him. But, sadly, my guy caught subs—he also betrayed his inability to bottle up his emotional sensations, the steam Olamide’s ‘mis-action’ brought to him. Being a respected icon in the industry, he shouldn’t have picked on Olamide live on stage. That made both of them wrong. Don Jazzy sha…

OLA DON

Well, I hope they apologize, forget it, and get along in the coming months, like Vector and Reminisce did, ‘as two grown men’.

In all, the Headies—“Flip the Script” edition—was indeed a flipping of the script. In my opinion, the organizers thought it best to celebrate good music that is, at least, fairly known by most Nigerians, not necessarily popular music. And that is an unusual thing to do in Nigeria, where majority would rather recommend sick heads producing sick music and corrupting the minds of teeming youths into thinking about illicit sex, drug abuse and gambling instead of hard work and being responsible citizens, qualities that would prepare them to take on the baton of leadership in the nearest future. Also, the audience were more thrilled as all the artistes had to perform using a live band. And, I must say, they all killed it!

Any lessons to learn from all this? Yes,

(1) Talent is never enough! You also need good character to back it up.

(2) While making money is important for every artiste, good music (and here I mean music that successfully blends a good instrumentals with lyrical depth and a reasonable content) should not be jettisoned. In the end, it is legacy, and not money, that is most important!

(3) Be prepared for opposition(s)/complaint(s) before you flip the script, people are used to sticking to it. Few persons are ready to chart an unpopular course, however right it may seem.

Anyway, welcome to 2016, “the year of beefs” in Nigerian Music Industry! Brb, I have to catch up with Ycee versus Vector beef. I’ll update you later.

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