Nigerian singer, songwriter and rapper, Divine Ikubor, known as Rema performs on stage at the Primavera Sound in Porto.

Nigerian singer, songwriter and rapper, Divine Ikubor, known as Rema performs on stage at the Primavera Sound in Porto.

Photo by Diogo Baptista/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Here's What Went Down at the Headies 2023

A recap of The Headies 2023 big winners, and let downs of the night.

The 16th Headies Awards took place at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, U.S. on Sunday, with an atmosphere filled with grandeur and splendor. The event, themed "Celebrating African Renaissance," was jointly hosted by Nollywood actress Osas Ighodaro and American media personality Terrence J. The audience was treated to electrifying performances by artists such as Odumodublvck, Young Jonn, Wande Coal, Kcee, Black Sherif, Asake and others.

Rema and Burna Boy emerged as the night's top winners, each taking home three awards. Three artists, namely Odumodublvck, Asake, Victony, and Tempoe, stood out by winning two awards each during the ceremony.

The event was streamed live on YouTube (U.S.) and HipTV (Africa) Network, with Terrence J and Osas Ighodaro as the charismatic hosts. Notable among the awards was the Rookie of the Year category, featuring Bayanni, Khaid, Guchi, Bloody Civilian, Odumodublvck, and Eltee Skhillz, with Odumodublvck emerging as the winner and earning not only recognition but also a solar-powered, fully furnished two-bedroom house.

Although Sean "Love" Combs was honored with the International Artiste Recognition Award, he was unable to attend the show, and organizers assured that his plaque would be delivered to him.

The Headies Awards, originally known as the Hip Hop World Awards, were established in 2006 by the Hip Hop World Magazine of Nigeria to acknowledge outstanding achievements in the Nigerian music industry. This marked the second year the event was held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, as it was previously held in Lagos, Nigeria, every year from 2006 to 2021, with exceptions in 2017 and 2020 when no ceremony took place.

Over the past year, several major music awards shows have introduced Afrobeats or African music categories. The American Music Awards added the category of "Favorite Afrobeats Artist," with Wizkid being the inaugural winner. Similarly, the MTV Video Music Awards introduced the "Best Afrobeats" category, where Rema & Gomez's "Calm Down" emerged as the front-runner, also receiving nominations in two other categories, "Best Song" and "Best Collaboration."

The Awards Neglected Female Artists

DAILY POST noted a glaring omission at the Headies Awards, as no female award category was presented before the event abruptly ended around 2:30 a.m. Nigerian time. Organizers failed to announce winners in 13 categories during the 16th edition of the awards show at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.

Attendees and viewers around the world were taken aback when co-host Osas Ighodaro announced halfway through the show that the ceremony had concluded, leaving 13 categories unaddressed. These unannounced categories included Best Female Artiste, Best Recording of The Year, Songwriter of The Year, Best RnB Single, Best Vocal Performance (Female), Headies Viewers' Choice, Best East African Artiste of the Year, Best North African Artiste of The Year, Best Southern African Artiste of The Year, Best Central African Artiste of The Year, International Artiste Of The Year, Best Alternative Album, and Best RnB Album.

Although no official explanation was given for the sudden conclusion of the event, the organizers later revealed the unannounced award winners through social media channels. Ayra Starr was recognized as the Best Female Artiste of the Year, Waje secured the Best Vocal Performance (Female) award, and Victony & Tempoe clinched the Best Recording of The Year for "Soweto."

Ayra Starr expressed her disappointment on Twitter, stating, "I will never be grateful for winning a category that wasn't even deemed fit to be announced on stage! Best female artist na beans? We work hard, every single one of us! I've seen Tiwa record four hit songs in the same night, Tems breathes and lives for music, we didn't deserve such nonchalance! Nigeria, you didn't raise me to settle for less."

Rema Vs. Burna Boy

During the ceremony, Nigerian singer Rema subtly addressed Burna Boy, while accepting the "African Artiste Of the Year" award. The African Artiste Of the Year and Next Rated awards are highly coveted prizes given to Nigeria's most promising and outstanding upcoming artists.

Rema's comment appeared to be a response to Burna Boy's recent interview with The New York Times, where Burna Boy asserted that 90 percent of Afrobeat songs lack depth and substance, emphasizing that the genre primarily aims to create a lively and enjoyable atmosphere. Burna Boy also pointed out the lack of genuine life experiences among many Nigerian and African artists, which, in his view, contributes to the shallowness of the Afrobeats genre.

During his acceptance speech, Rema indirectly referred to Burna Boy's comments, stating that not all Afrobeat songs need deep meanings and that sometimes people just want to dance and have fun, which is perfectly acceptable. Rema's response elicited mixed reactions from fans and industry stakeholders, with some supporting his stance.

Check out some of the winner of the 2023 Headies below, or view the full list here.

Best Rap Single

OdumoduBlvck – "Declan Rice" (Winner)
Reminisce – "Hustle"
Ladipoe – :Big Energy"
Blaqbonez – "Back in Uni"
Psycho YP – "Bando Diaries"
Jeriq, Phyno – "My Bro"

Best Rap Album

Blaqbonez – Young Preacher (Winner)
Payper Corleone – Fly Talk Only
Show Dem Camp – Palmwine Music Vol. 3
Psycho YP – YPSZN3
Vector – TESLIM
Jeriq – Billion Dollar Dream

Best Male Artiste

Rema (Winner)
Burna Boy
Kizz Daniel
Omah Lay

Best Female Artiste

Ayra Starr (Winner)
Tiwa Savage

Album Of The Year

Asake – Mr. Money With The Vibe (Winner)
Burna Boy – Love, Damini
Rema – Rave & Roses
Omah Lay – Boy Alone
Victony – Outlaw
Davido – Timeless

Song of The Year

Burna Boy – "Last Last" (Winner)
Rema – "Calm Down"
Oxlade – "Ku Lo Sa"
Kizz Daniel, Tekno – "Buga"
Pheelz, BNXN – "Finesse"
Asake, Burna Boy – "Sungba Remix"