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In all of the distraction that followed Olamide’s reaction after his protégé, Lil Kesh, lost the Next Rated award to Reekado Banks at the Headies on January 1, one thing that has largely been glossed over is the state he was in before, during and after the event. The young man that went on stage with his YBNL crew that day could only have done something “show stopping”. You did not need a sixth sense to know he was as high as a kite.
If anybody should complain about Lil Kesh’s loss, it definitely should not be Olamide. It was partly his label’s fault that the result didn’t go the way he wanted. Like the organisers said in a release on Monday, “The limit of our involvement in this voting process is to advice the nominees to engage their fans and solicit for their votes. We do not accept any responsibility for failure on the part of the nominees or their record label, when they fail to do this.”
I served on the jury of the Headies for three years. While I admit that the adjudication process is not perfect, most of the controversies generated over the years are needless. Ten winners have won the Next Rated award since 2006. They include Asa, Overdose, Wande Coal, Omawumi, Wizkid, Davido and Patoranking. There were loud and muffled protests when Sean Tizzle was declared winner ahead of Burna Boy, Phyno, Seyi Shay and Dammy Krane in 2013. It was the same when Skuki beat General Pype, Mo’Cheddah, D’Prince and Jesse Jagz in 2010.
The hard truth however is that, like most prizes decided by public vote, the nominee with the highest album sale, download, airplay or social media following does not always win. It is a game of numbers. And the numbers are decided by the voting public. While Howtie T canvassed for vote across different platforms for the unfancied Skuki in 2010, some self-entitled big names were nonchalant until the winner was announced. Burna Boy stormed out of the award ceremony in 2013 but verifiable vote count does not justify his anger.
According to Ayo Animashaun and his team at the Headies, “We can also attest to, and hereby state categorically that, there is no evidence that any of the artistes aggrieved and vocal about their displeasure to the turnout of the award, voted in the ‘Next-Rated’ category, as our voting process captures email addresses and phone numbers.” If that is the case, Olamide should apologise to Lil Kesh for not converting his online cult following and street credibility to votes. Whether that would have been enough to beat a well oiled machinery run by Don Jazzy and his Mavin crew – with enough followers to rival the population of many countries – is another argument altogether.
But this is really not about Headies. People have boycotted ceremonies, stormed off stage, walked out of events or broken statuettes to register their displeasure. Olamide actually went on stage and uttered words that should embarrass reformed area boys from Mushin to Bariga. He threw his drink on the floor and smashed the microphone. Not done, he went on a Twitter rant; cursing Don Jazzy, his family and almost everybody associated with him. The only thing that beats what he posted online is the lyrics of 2pac’s Hit ‘em Up.
Something was obviously wrong with Olamide. Lil Kesh’s loss might have upset him and Don Jazzy could have done better than make that patronising statement about the car but baddosneh had more than anger coursing through his vein. He had had too much to drink. I know how destructive that can be and I am worried for the young man. Those of us for whom the privilege of drinking has been withdrawn know that a time comes in the drinking career of some men when just one drink is too much and 50 not enough.
Toni Kan in his piece titled ‘Losing their Head over Headies’ made reference to Obesere and Luther ‘Uncle Luke’ Campbell, and how their gutter mouths all but ended their careers. Luckily for Olamide, he sobered up early and did the right thing by apologising for his action. The joint apology with Don Jazzy is also to be commended. The fear however is a likely repeat of the insanity that played out at the 2015 Headies. Next time may be worse. Just as what transpired on New Year Day was worse than what happened at the 2014 Headies which the YBNL boss attended after having had too much to drink.
No responsible corporate organisation wants to be associated with infractions like that in public. It may be permissible as long as what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. Remedies was blacklisted by a tobacco brand after one of their drummers took off his underwear on stage at a concert in Lagos. Blackky ruffled corporate feathers when he sang ‘Sugar Stick’ at a formal event.
Eedris Abdulkareem was the biggest Nigerian rap artiste in 2004. That was the year he carried the Olympic torch along with eminent personalities like Profs Pat Utomi and Dora Akunyili. He also released his Jaga Jaga album which was a worthy follow up to Mr Lecturer of 2002. All was going well until he clashed with 50 Cent at the Lagos airport in December 2004. His career is yet to recover from that self-inflicted blow despite several public apologies.
Those who really love Olamide should be honest with him about what lies ahead. He needs help. Unfortunately, artiste managers in Nigeria are largely glorified errand boys. They have little or no control over their clients and can’t tell them when they have had one too many. Some have crossed the line from manager to enabler. A manager worth that title should have prevented Olamide from going on the Headies stage in the state he was or tweeting after the show.
Endorsements, record sale and concert bookings are terrible things to lose, but it can get worse. Go ask Dagrin. There is just too much at stake.