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Ranking the Headies Next Rated Category since its inception

Since then, the award has held significant value because it serves as a recognition for a set of upcoming artists who are recognized for two reasons;

  1. Their achievement over the preceding year or the year in review, or;
  2. The greater things they could go on to achieve.

Of course, history has show that such projections are speculative at best, but that hasn’t stopped emotions from running at fever high levels, whenever the category is announced. Controversies, outbursts, enmity and social media rants; you can name it, we’ve seen it all.

But a lot of that is due to the emotions that artists attach to their work, the esteem with which fans perceive the impact of newly minted stars, and the sheer competition that the category is usually associated with.

Thus, we take a look at the rich – and controversial – history of the category, and rank each year based on;

  1. How keenly contested it was, based on what the nominees achieved during the year-in-review.
  2. What the winners have gone on to achieve.

But because we have the benefit of hindsight, ‘2’ is of lesser importance to ‘1,’ as a criterion. In ranking the set of Next Rated classes since the creation of the award in 2006, factors that will be considered include success, impact, and longevity.

This is a year-on-year ranking of the Headies Next Rated category in descending order.

Nominees: Asake, Seyi Vibez, Victony, Young Jonn, Spyro

Asake was already being tipped as the next rated artist elect mid-way into his unprecedented 2022 run of hits which he capped with the release of a record-breaking debut album ‘Mr. Money With The Vibe’.

Towards the latter part of 2022 amidst Asake’s era-defining run, Seyi Vibez would emerge with a similar style that arrested the attention of listeners and created a sort of rivalry between the two.

Young Jonn made a full switch to becoming an artist and went on to deliver back-to-back hit records with ‘Dada’ feat Davido and ‘Xtracool’.

Victony enjoyed impressive success with the release of his sophomore EP ‘Outlaw’ which delivered the international hit single ‘Soweto’.

Spyro soared to the summit of the mainstream with ‘Who Is Your Guy’ which enjoyed massive success and extended his run after he dropped ‘Billing’.

While it’s relatively easy to rate the class of 2023 based on the success that earned them their respective nominations and the competitiveness of the set, it would be appropriate to wait until a winner is declared before ranking the class.

Nominated: Kage, Naeto C, Overdose, Lawal Olumo, C-Mion, Gino, and Blaise.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: While Naeto C was an IJGB, who had the swag and the freshness, Gino set the country alive with ‘Farabale’ (original and remix) from his classic debut album, Pain Plus Work. As a rapper of Benin origin, he stole the respect from the grasp of pop stars. Blaise hadn’t released an album, but she was a wordsmith who earned respect.

Winner: Overdose took home the award beating fellow favourite Naeto C.

Impact, Success, and Longevity

From the 2007 class, only Naeto C can be said to have achieved considerable success, His career-defining album ‘The Super C Season.’ In terms of impact, Naeto C is amongst the rappers who redefined rap in Nigeria by bringing the flare and swagger that took it from hardcore to a more subtle and urban sound.

Of the other nominees, Overdose and Gino enjoyed some level of success However, it was short-lived. The other nominees didn’t achieve any notable success and it will take a very curious reader to dig out something about their music. This consequently ranks them bottom of the list.

Nominees: YQ, MP, Omawumi, Kel, and D’jniee.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: In 2007, Omawumi finished as runner-up to Timi Dakolo at the West African Idols, and followed it up with a stellar introduction into the Nigerian music industry. YQ had slowly started to emerge with his blend of Rap and lamba while Kel had emerged with singles like ‘Purple,’ on her way to releasing her brilliant debut, The Investment. Djinee had featured on MI Abaga‘s ‘Safe’ before then, and had released ‘Ego’ in 2004. Perhaps, he was overqualified for that category.

A name that people might not remember is former Limelight Records act, MP, because he did not succeed like the others have. But during the year in review, he released two incredible records in ‘Pasa Pasa‘ and ‘No Dull Yourself,’ and they were two of the biggest records during the year in review. He also had panache, and popularized ‘Oshamo’ into the Nigerian pop culture zeitgeist.

Winner: Omawumi pipped the other nominees to the award becoming the second woman to win the award. A feat that has not been repeated.

Impact, Success, and Longevity

Aside from Omawumi and YQ the other nominees didn’t quite have much of a career.

Omawumi will go on to become an established act enjoying success and recognition. YQ also hung around for a while. However, following the criteria, the 2009 class is a disappointing one and Omawumi’s success and longevity is the only reason they aren’t bottom of the list.

Nominees: Eva Alordiah, Davido, Chuddy K, and Praiz.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: Chuddy K was later disqualified after it was revealed he had previously released an album. Going into the show, Davido was the favourite, but Eva Alordiah had a stellar year with several Rap cuts, including ‘I Don Did It,’ a classic tune produced by Sossick. Then Praiz was also the talent show nut, who had released ‘Rich and Famous’ on Xtreme Music. It was a ripoff, but who cares, right?

Winner: Davido took home the award with his hit single ‘Dami Duro.’

Impact, Success, and Longevity

Aside from Davido who is one of Africa’s biggest-ever artists, the other nominees didn’t quite achieve much success.

Eva Alordiah enjoyed some time in the spotlight but her career was short-lived and uneventful. Similarly, Praiz enjoyed some success but his time in the spotlight was short-lived.

Save for Davido, the class of 2012 didn’t quite live up to the endorsement.

Nominees: Omah Lay, Oxlade, Tems, and Bella Shmurda

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: Omah Lay entered the industry guns blazing as his single ‘Bad Influence’ was already popular before most fans can put a face to it. With the release of the visuals for ‘Lolo’ Omah Lay became the new sensation with ‘Get Layd’ EP and the favourite to win the award.

Tems’ ‘Try Me’ was an anthem whose popularity almost overshadowed the artist. With the single, she quickly became the new female music star on the bloc. Bella Shmurda’s ‘Vision 2020’ announced him to the mainstream and he quickly sealed this with his ‘High Tension’ EP.

Oxlade’s ‘Away‘ was his most popular release yet and his ‘Oxygen‘ EP earned him a place on the list.

Winner: Omah Lay won with his hugely successful ‘Get Layd’ EP.

Impact, Success, and Longevity

Still in the early days of their careers, the class of 2020 has so far shown promise. Omah Lay has established himself as one of Nigeria’s most exciting and promising talents.

Tems has enjoyed huge international success becoming the only Nigerian artist with two RIAA Platinum plaques.

Bella Shmurda is a recognizable name in Nigeria’s street hop and his music has earned him the admiration and love of numerous fans. Oxlade has established himself as one of Nigeria’s finest pop stars with a lot of promise.

Nominees: Ycee, Humblesmith, Tekno, Mr Eazi, and Aramide.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: Mr. Eazi enjoyed a massive run in the lead-up to the award with his singles ‘Skin Tight,’ ‘Holl Up,’ and ‘Leg Over’ enjoying wide acclaim. Humblesmith scored a massive hit with Osinachi with the Davido remix further propelling it.

Aramide was a new voice in the Nigerian alternative scene whose talent caught the ears of listeners. YCee’s ‘Jagaban,’ and ‘Omo Alhaji‘ were huge hits that made him a strong contender for the award.

Tekno would be disqualified for the award after he failed to partake in the press rounds and build up to the award.

Winner: Mr. Eazi took home the award with his singles ‘Lego Over‘ and ‘Anointing.’

Impact, Success, and Longevity

The winner Mr Eazi is credited for being one of the artists who slowed down the tempo of Nigerian songs. Since his nomination, Mr Eazi has enjoyed both domestic and international successes.

YCee also enjoyed success in the limelight but his career hasn’t soared as many expected. Humblesmith enjoyed success with his single ‘Osinachi’ and that’s all there’s to his career. Aramide has established herself as one of Nigeria’s top vocalists and alternative acts but she has so far struggled to crack the mainstream.

Nominees: Mayorkun, Maleek Berry, Dice Ailes, Johnny Drille, and Zoro.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: Mayorkun had a fine run with ‘Eleko,’ ‘Love You Tire,’ and ‘Mama’ making him a favourite. Dice Ailes had a hit with ‘Otedola’ and Maleek Berry’s ‘Kontrol’ was widely popular. Johnny Drille had nice singles in ‘Wait For Me’ and ‘Romeo & Julliet.’ run with was the clear favorite took home the award in what many agreed was well deserved. Zoro was also an Eastern sensation with ‘Mbada’ and ‘One on One.’

Winner: Mayorkun won for his single ‘Mama.’

Impact, Success, and Longevity

The class of 2018 has gone on to have a decent career with Mayorkun the winner standing out. Both Maleek Berry and Dice Ailes have enjoyed some level of success albeit their time in the spotlight has been inconsistent.

Johnny Drille has emerged as one of Nigeria’s best male vocalists while Zoro is one of the foremost rappers from the East.

Nominees: Rema, Lyta, Victor AD, Fireboy DML, Joeboy, and Zlatan Ibile.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: With double successful EPs ‘Rema’ and ‘Bad Commando’ Rema was placed favourite for the award. Fireboy was also a favourite with his singles ‘Jeaous’ and ‘What If I Say.’ Joeboy had a hit with ‘Baby’ and Victor AD got in through his hit single ‘Wetin You Gain.’ Lyta had a good single with ‘Monalisa.’

Zlatan had ‘Zanku’ but chose not to particpate in that award as he believed he was superior to the category.

Winner: Rema won with his singles ‘Dumebi,’ ‘Bad Commando,’ and ‘Lady.’

Impact, Success, and Longevity

The Headies Next Rated class of 2019 has gone on to achieve commendable success with Rema and Fireboy leading the pack.

Fireboy and Rema have become Nigerian superstars who look set and ready to take Afrobeats to the next level. And Joeboy has emerged as an exciting talent who seems destined for the top.

Victor AD and Lyta have enjoyed moderate success but they have not been able to measure up to the level of their fellow nominees.

Nominees: BNXN (Buju), Ruger, Zinoleesky, Ayra Starr

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: The 2022 Headies Next Rated category was largely considered a 2 horse race between Dancehall sensation Ruger and Singing sensation BNXN. The rivalry between the duo also added sentimental value to the award with the likelihood of the winner being considered in some quarters to have won the battle.

BNXN has a fantastic 2021 with the release of his impressive solo efforts ‘Outside’ and ‘Testimony’. He also delivered hit collaborations with Savage and Ladipoe before wrapping the year with his debut EP ‘Sorry I’m Late’.

Ruger equally enjoyed an impressive 2021 with the release of two EPs ‘Pandemic’ and ‘Second Wave’ both of which spurned multiple hit records that rocketed him to the top of the mainstream.

Zinoleesky enjoyed an impressive singles run with ‘Kilofeshe’, ‘Naira Marley’, ‘Gone Far’ and ‘Blessings’ with Niphkeyz.

Ayra Starr also made her mark with her debut album ’19 & Dangerous’ which delivered the hit records ‘Fashion Killer’ and ‘Bloody Samaritan’.

Winner: BNXN – ‘Outside’, Ladipoe‘s ‘Feeling’

Impact, Success, and Longevity

All four nominees have continued to stake a claim at the summit of the industry with Ayra Starr rising above her peers as the female face of the Afrobeats to the World movement.

Still only a year since the award, Ayra Starr released a deluxe version of her debut album and delivered the hit record ‘Rush’.

BNXN released his sophomore album ‘Bad Since ’97’ which enjoyed decent success.

Zinoleesky released his sophomore EP ‘Grit and Lust’ which enjoyed impressive success.

Ruger also released the deluxe version of his deluxe EP which spurned the hit single ‘Girlfriend’ and since then, he has released the chart-topping smash hit ‘Asiwaju’.

From all indications, the future is bright for the class of 2022.

Nominees: Cynthia Morgan, Korede Bello, Reekado Banks, Kizz Daniel, and Lil Kesh.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: This award was hotly contested with Lil Kesh and Reekardo Banks emerging as favorites. Reekado has ‘Katapot’ and ‘Standard.’ Lil Kesh had party banger ‘Efejoku’ and ‘Shele gan gan,’ and ‘Cause Trouble.’ Kizz Daniel had smash hits ‘Mama’ and ‘Good Time.’ Cynthia Morgan excited fans with her single ‘German Juice’ and Korede Bello’s ‘Godwin’ was a smash hit.

Winner: Reekado Banks won with ‘Katapot’ and ‘Standard.’

Impact, Success, and Longevity

Nigerians had high expectations from the greatly talented class of 2015. Some of the artists were able to leave up to the expectations while others suffered a painful decline.

Since the award, Kizz Daniel and Reekado Banks have enjoyed success and time in the mainstream.

Cynthia Morgan was on an ascension before her career nosedived and she was never able to make a comeback. Similarly, Korede Bello enjoyed some time in the limelight before his career dipped.

Lil Kesh enjoyed huge success during a fine run but suffered a painful decline. However, he has been able to make a comeback although he hasn’t quite hit the level he use to be at.

Nominees: Runtown, Orezi, Patoranking, Skales, and Yemi Alade.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: Patoranking’s ‘Girlie O’ made him a strong favorite for the award. Runtown also had a great year with ‘Garlado,’ Yemi Alade had smash hit ‘Johnny,’ and Orezi’s ‘Rihanna’ was a banger. Skales also recorded the smash hit ‘Shake Body.’

Winner: Patoranking won with his hit single ‘Girlie O.’

Impact, Success, and Longevity

In terms of impact, success, and longevity the class of 2014 is one of the most successful Next Rated Class.

Yemi Alade and Patoranking are both Nigerian and continental music forces. They have achieved great success and after 7 years, they are still at the top of the game.

Runtown is one of Nigeria’s most talented artists and since being nominated for the Next Rated prize, he has enjoyed great success and fame.

Skales and Orezi also enjoyed time in the limelight albeit and they enjoyed a decent level of success before their careers began declining.

Nominees: General Pype, Skuki, Mo’Cheddah, Jesse Jagz, and D’Prince.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: : A lot of young people might only know D’Prince as a label executive, Mo’Cheddah as an influencer, and Skuki as ‘those guys,’ but in 2010, they were the new talents setting the industry on fire with their spicy songs . Pype rounded out a buzz with the smash hit single, ‘Champion,’ Mo’Cheddah had released ‘If You Want Me’ and ‘Ko Ma Roll,’ her smash hit.

Chocolate City act, Jesse Jagz had also released ‘Wetin Dey’ and ‘Pump It Up.’ Skuki had a stellar year, but they were simply not on the level of three of the nominees.

Winner: Skuki took home the award, despite Mo’Cheddah and Jesse Jagz as favorites.

Impact, Success, and Longevity

General Pype recorded a decent level of success with his single ‘Born Champion’ gaining wide acclaim. D’Prince also had a nice run from 2010 to 2013 with singles ‘Give It to me’ and ‘Banana.’

Similarly, Skuki also recorded some success and Jesse Jagz went on to become one of Nigeria’s top rappers albeit with moderate success.

From the class of 2010, Mo’Cheddah appeared to be the artist destined for superstardom but her career quickly petered out after barely two years at the top.

This lack of convincing success and the short nature of their time in the spotlight places them third from the bottom.

Nominees: Burna Boy, Dammy Krane, Phyno, Sean Tizzle, and Seyi Shey.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: Burna Boy was considered a favourite for the award with his singles ‘Check and Balance,’ ‘Run My Race,’ and ‘Yawa Dey.’ Sean Tizzle monster hit ‘Sho le’ threw him in the mix and Phyno was also in the front line with ‘Man Of the Year’ and ‘Connect.’ Seyi Shay’s ‘Irawo’ enjoyed huge success and Dammy Krane had a hit song in ‘Amin.’

Winner: Sean Tizzle won with his smash hit ‘Sho le.’

Impact, Success, and Longevity

The Next Rated class of 2013 all went on to achieve varying levels of success with Burna Boy and Phyno standing out.

Burna Boy enjoyed popularity and his fame soared with his 2018 release ‘YE.’ Ever since, Burna Boy has gone on to achieve international fame and become the first Afrobeats act to win a Grammy.

Phyno has also established himself as one of Nigeria’s biggest rappers and his impact on Igbo Rap cannot be overemphasised.

Seyi Shay and Sean Tizzle enjoyed the mainstream success that lasted a couple of years before their careers dipped. And out of the 2013 class, Dami Krane is the only nominee whose career didn’t amount to much.

Nominees: Banky W, Wande Coal, GT The Guitarman, M.I, and Cyrus da Virus.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: The favorites were MI Abaga, who had a stellar year in review, despite being a rapper; Banky W, the R&B singer, who was disrupting the Nigerian space with an alternative to P Square‘s R&B hit and Wande Coal, who was an anomaly.

Who won: Wande Coal, duh…

Impact, Success, and Longevity

In terms of impact, success, and longevity the Headies Next Rated class of 2008 has left an indelible mark on the Nigerian music industry.

Wande Coal has become a forerunner of contemporary Afrobeats sound and achieved notable success in the process. He has inspired some of the biggest artists such as Wizkid, Fireboy, Reekado Banks, and Teni, amongst many more.

MI will go on to become one of Nigeria’s greatest-ever rappers with a significant impact on the Nigerian music industry. Banky-W also went on to become a forerunner for RnB in Nigeria before becoming a label boss that produced Wizkid.

Although GT The Guitarman and Cyrus da Virus had way below-average careers, it doesn’t take away from the success, impact, and longevity of the 2008 Next Rated class.

Nominees: Wizkid, Ice Prince, Tiwa Savage, and Olamide.

How did the nominees fare during the year-in-review: Wizkid was the new kid on the block whose music was generating huge buzz amongst listeners of all ages. Wizkid was a favorite alongside with Olamide whose ‘Eni Duro’ and ‘Omo To Shan’ were hits.

Ice Prince’s ‘Oleku’ was a party anthem and one of the biggest songs in Nigeria. Tiwa Savage was also emerged as the female artist the industry had been waiting for with her singles ‘Kele Kele Love’ and ‘Love Me’ achieving wide acclaim.

Winner: Wizkid’s ‘Hola At Your Boy,’ ‘Tease,’ and ‘Pakurumo’ won what most people will agree is the toughest Next Rated award in the history of the Headies.

Impact, Success, and Longevity

Wizkid, Olamide, and Tiwa Savage since their nominations have gone on to become some of the biggest names in Nigerian and African music.

Their success, impact, and longevity cannot be debated nor does it require proof.

Ice Prince also went on to become one of the biggest rappers and artists from Nigeria and Africa. At his peak, Ice Prince was nominated for the BET Awards and he was perhaps the leading Nigerian artist between 2012 to 2013. Although his career didn’t enjoy the longevity of other nominees from the 2011 Next Rated class, Ice Prince was nevertheless a huge success.

The success, impact, and longevity of the 2011 class are unparallel and that’s why they are the greatest Next Rated Class in Headies history.

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