4 Takeaways From The 2023 Headies

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The 16th edition of the Headies, Nigeria’s foremost music award show held in Atlanta, Georgia on the 3rd of September 2023 marking the show’s second year in the US. As you can expect with any award show, there’s a lot to talk about but some themes stand out more than others.

Rema is Afrobeats’ next torchbearer and he understands the responsibility

For the first time in a long time, the Headies did not revolve around Wizkid and Davido. Neither artist won an award and if there was ever a sign that a torch passing has happened or is around the corner, it was Rema and Burna Boy dominating the nominations in the fashion we saw Wizkid and Davido for nearly a decade.

Rema was the biggest winner of the night with 3 awards but perhaps the show’s standout moment was when he took to the stage to accept his first award of the night and spoke eloquently about the importance of supporting our institutions. It represented one of the first times we’ve seen an artist speak on the need to build the kind of infrastructure necessary to make this genre a mainstay.

Our institutions need to create space to amplify female talent

We’ve often spoken of Afrobeats as a boys-only club and the Headies put that on a lit billboard and turned off all the lights in the arena tonight. Not only did no woman hit the stage as a performer, but no woman hit the stage to pick up an award either. Following the show, we learned that Waje, Ayra Starr, Libianca and Simi won awards via the Headies’ social channels. An announcement in this form does nothing but diminish their success and suggests that the categories women are nominated in matter less.

Understanding the disadvantage women in the industry face, our foremost award show should do a significantly better job putting the limelight on women like Ayra Starr, Tiwa Savage, and Libianca who achieved so much this year in spite of the barriers.

The production of the Headies is a long way from the goal

When the move from Lagos to Atlanta was originally made in 2022, we were told we could expect a better-produced show but we’re still miles away from delivering a show that can be considered world-class. Yes, there’s been some progress but the goalpost is still far off. In my limited life experience, it’s unheard of that an award show finishes and over 10 awards remain unannounced. The performances can be better, and so can the stage design and all-round production of the show but that’s a story for another day.

Magicsticks – ROBBED

While we can get into who should have won every award, the Headies without a doubt dropped the ball on Producer of the Year. Asake’s rise over the course of the last 18 months has been meteoric and unlike anything else, we’ve ever experienced. All that was on the back of Magicsticks’ work so to award anyone else ahead of him in the Producer of the Year category feels like an instance of politics rearing its head.

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