The 14th edition of Headies has come and gone with breakout star, Omah Lay clinching the coveted crown for the Next Rated Award.
The Next Rated category has been there since the inception of the Headies in 2006
The Award show which was originally called the Hip-hop World award is the most popular and influential Nigerian Music award.
It was created by veteran media guru – Ayo Animashaun, to celebrate hip-hop and alternative music. It has since gone beyond those genres to celebrating the Nigerian music industry as a whole.
While the award show has had its ups and downs, it has become the Nigerian version of the Grammys to Nigerian Artists.
Over the years, big acts like Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, P-square, 2Baba, Wande Coal, Tiwa Savage e.t.c have been recipients of the award show.
While it has a lot of categories that cater to various music genres, one of its most coveted categories is The Next Rated category.
This very coveted prize is won by the ‘upcoming’ act who has shown the most promise in the year in review. Winners also get a car and join an influential ‘alumni’ of previous superstar winners.
Now, considering what this award has come to signify – basically a peek into the future – has the Headies always gotten it right? Did all the previous winners deserve it over other nominees?
Let’s take a dig delve into the past winners of the category and if they lived up to the expectations.
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In 2006, the headies was created under the name Hip-Hop Awards. Asa became the first recipient of the Next Rated category.
The soulful singer didn’t disappoint in living up to the expectations as she would later release one of the best albums, Asha, the Nigerian music industry have seen in a decade.
Years later, the award-winning singer has four albums to her credit and classics that can’t be forgotten.
While a lot of Gen Z’s won’t be familiar with the name Overdose, he was a talented rapper whose lyricism and wordplay got him the recognition that he beat Naeto C, Lawal Olumo, Kage, C-Mion, Gino, Blaise in the next rated category in 2007.
He was signed to X3M back in the day and dropped a few rap songs like “Drinks in a Glass”, “I can’t Shout”, “Alujo” and an album, “Hustle or Die”.
However, over the years, he has fallen the face of the earth. In fact, the only known artist in 2007 Next rated Category is Naeto C who went on to release more known and popular songs.
2008- Wande Coal
In 2008, the defunct Mo’hits record was one of the popular labels as of then. Wande Coal with his melodious voice was one of its star acts.
Having released hits songs that dominated airwaves, its no surprise he could beat Banky W and M.I Abaga to win the category. Other nominees of that year include GT Guitarman and Cyprus Da Virus.
Since his win, Wande Coal has released two commercially successful albums (Mushin to Mohits and Wanted)to his credits and hits that span across the decade.
In 2010, Wande Coal broke records as the first artist(Non-group) to win five Awards in one single night. The only other set of persons to do achieve this same feat is P-square in 2006 and Fireboy DML in 2021.
Omawumi was the best win for the category in 2009. The songbird fresh off from the Idols West Africa competition, released her debut single, “In the Music ” the following year.
So it wasn’t a surprise that she won the award over other artists like YQ, MP, Kel, D’Jinee.
The music duo faced stiff competition from Jesse Jagz, General Pype, D’Prince and Mo’Cheddah who all had songs reigning on airwaves back then.
While not much is heard of them lately, the two at some point dominated the streets with hits like ‘Banger”, “Pass the Agbara”, “Stamina” e.t.c
One of Headies’ best decision, Wizkid was a trailblazer in 2011 with a commercially successful debut album, “Superstar“. Even though the music star faced serious competition from Tiwa Savage, Olamide, Ice Prince in the category, he was the best man for the crown.
Interestingly, Wizkid was the star of the show at the 14th Edition of the Headies, almost nine years after his first win at the show.
In 2012, Davido was reaping the success of his two hit songs “back When” featuring Naeto C and ‘Dami Duro“.
His fellow nominees were no easy feat; Eva was Nigeria’s best female rapper at that time. Praiz – who was second runner-up at the first edition of Project Fame West Africa – had Rich and Famous burning up the charts, while Chuddy K had everybody ‘wining’ to Slow Slow.
Currently, Davido is one of the top 3 most influential artist in the Industry and the boss of a successful label, DMW.
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2013- Sean Tizzle
Sean Tizzle as a winner for the 2013 edition would be seen as a questionable choice by the organizers of Headies in the present day.
True, Sean Tizzle was buzzing with songs like “Sho lee”, however, the rest contenders for the post back then, Burna Boy, Dammy Krane, Phyno, Seyi Shay were also serious competition.
Interestingly, Burna Boy is currently the face of afrobeat with his two Grammy nominations and successful records and Phyno leads Igbo rap. As for Dammy Krane, he hasn’t been doing too well in the music scene after some issues with the Law and Seyi Shay still drops hits.
Despite being placed with artists like Runtown, Orezi, Skales, Yemi Alade, Patoranking was able to clinch the award.
Apart from Orezi who hasn’t been heard from in a while, Yemi Alade, Runtown, Skales and Patoranking are all doing well in their various fields.
2015- Reekado Banks
The 2015 Headies is the most dramatic and controversial Headies to date. And, of course, the Next Rated category was the source of most of the drama.
A battle of wars had broken out between two Music icons Olamide and Don Jazzy due to Reekado Banks winning the category over Lil Kesh.
Olamide thought Lil Kesh should have won it, since the kid had been dropping back-to-back singles, and he voiced his displeasure.
In response, Don Jazzy asked Baddoo to come and collect the car, then Baddoo got angry and banned him from the mainland. In the end, Dangote settled their beef, and all became well again.
Other nominees in the category include Kizz Daniel, Cynthia Morgan, Korede Bello.
2016- Mr Eazi
Mr Eazi clearly deserved to win the 2016 edition of the award as he dominated the year with his Banku-styled sound.
His biggest contender for the category was Tekno who withdrew from the category having felt insulted by being put in that category.
Another contender for the crown was Ycee who had people singing along to his “Jagaban” song. Humblesmith was also deserving of the nomination as he dominated the year with “Osinachi”.
For some reason, the Headies didn’t take place in 2017 but resumed in 2018.
Similar to Davido‘s reign in 2012, Mayorkun was a force to reckon with in 2018. Having released successful hits like “Eleko”, “Sade”, “mama”, “Che Che”, some of which was housed in his successful debut album, “The Mayor of Lagos“, this was an easy win.
The singer has further delved into superstar territory with multiple headlining concerts—including his sold-out, Indigo O2 arena show—and hit singles, like he’s 2020’s hit songs, “Geng”, “Of Lagos”, “Betty Butter”
Mayorkun’s contenders were Johnny Drille, Maleek Berry, Dice Ailes and Zoro
Rema was special the moment he was introduced to the music scene in 2019.
The singer dominated airwaves with “Dumebi’ and then released his debut eponymous EP followed by two subsequent EPs, ‘Freestyle EP’ and ‘Bad Commando’, which was more than enough for the Benin-born artist to race his way to the Next Rated award of the last Headies.
Despite not having released an album, Rema has attracted the attention of International Superstars like Drake, Rihanna and the rest.
Although, the nominee list was packed with worthy contenders who had proven themselves and have continued to build towards distinguished careers.
Fireboy’s “Jealous” and “King” were two of the biggest and best songs of 2019, and his impressive, hugely successful debut album, ‘Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps’ was one of the best albums of that year.
Joeboy’s “Baby” placed the singer in the canon of potential long term hitmakers, a reputation he’s steadily fulfilling with subsequent singles, albums and features.
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Omah Lay was the experience nobody anticipated having in 2020. Though the port-Harcourt breed had been singing and producing for a while, it took his 2020 hit song “You” and his EP, “Get Layd” for people to notice his amazing talent.
In less than a year he was able to find himself in the same category as Tems, Bella Shmurda and Oxlade.
What the future hold for him, time can only tell.