D-day has come and gone and thankfully there were more applauses than disappointments even though some surprises weren't so pleasant. Last Saturday in Lagos, all trooped out for the very anticipated and prestigious Hip Hop World Awards 2010.
The Yellow Carpet was brilliant. The organisers, Smooth Productions, seem to have perfected the art of setting up red carpets which they dub 'yellow carpet' after their sponsors of three years-MTN, whose corporate identity is expressed by the yellow hue. Celebrities across different disciplines, especially the arts graced the carpet which was set around the expansive pool side of Eko Hotel & Suites.
A zillion camera flashes from a horde of cameramen, microphones, reporters, presenters, blinding lights, stern looking security men, rich cocktail all spiced up the yellow carpet. It lasted for more than three hours and kept the awards proper from starting on time.
Limos were made available to convey VVIP guests from the accreditation ground to the yellow carpet entrance. Many who had bought the VIP tickets for N20, 000 were disappointed when they found out only VVIPs could walk the yellow carpet. For some, it was the beginning of upsets for the night, especially when the event proper did not start until 11:15 pm - four hours behind schedule. It dragged for another four hours, to end a few minutes past 3 am Sunday morning.
Without an anchor, the ceremony took off featuring performances from Goldie, Kefee, YQ, General Pype, Obiwon, Artquake. Jesse Jagz featuring Muna, D'Prince and Wande Coal.
Some of the boos of the night came when Terry Tha Rapman was announced winner of Best Rap Single for his song Sample (remix) and when Skuki went on to win the Next Rated category. Speaking on performances, only Gen. Pype delivered a live performance. All the others merely lip-synched- a big minus for an awards ceremony, especially one of Hip Hop World's rating.
No one could quite understand the relevance of the improvised bed brought upstage for D'Prince's performance of Omo Oba. The organisers probably tried to re-enact the feel of the poor video for the song, however unsuccessfully because the singer refused to lie on the bed.
Rap favourite, M.I, was absent that night. He missed out on all his nominations. The unrepentant hard core rapper-Mode 9 grabbed another headie this year for the Lyricist On The roll category. He is the most consistent winner of the HHWA, having won this category five times in a row. His acceptance speech was brief: Thank you - and understandably so.
Many hoped and prayed that M.I would take the baton from him this year, but Naija's rap messiah, M.I, may have to wait another 12 months.
Veteran film and music video director, Femi Lasode and respected ex-entertainment journalist Femi Akintunde Johnson were inducted into the Hip Hop World Hall of Fame at the ceremony.
Where are Nigeria's female artistes?
The female representation in music entertainment in Nigeria is an interestingly sad one. It's sad because Nigeria is yet to produce her Beyonce, Rihanna, Alicia Keys or even Jenifer Lopez- people whose music and commercial success cannot be overlooked.
They compel attention just by themselves just as much as the singers have worked hard at branding themselves. As it is, our Whitney Houstons and Anita Bakers- in the likes of Onyeka Onwenu, Esse Agesse, Christy-Essien Igbokwe are retiring. Just when will our younger female acts begin to do more than walk the red carpet at music award ceremonies?
When will our talents translate to recognition and conspicuous commercial success?
Last Saturday's Hip Hop World Award showed a poor outing for ladies in the music circle. Only two of the 18 awards went to ladies and both were gospel singers. Kefee lost three of her four nominations and songstress Lara George won one of her two nominations. The latter won in a strictly female category: Best Vocal Performance (Female) while Kefee together with Timaya won the Best Collabo with the song Kokoroko. Other than these two assisted categories, the female artistes resigned to performing and strutting the yellow carpet and sadly so.
It was Wande Coal's night at this edition of the HHWA.
After being predicted as the next-to-blow by organisers of the awards in 2008 when they handed him the headie for Next Rated at the Planet One venue, Lagos, the velvety R N B singer came back this year to claim 5 headies and also five blackberries. One Blackberry Curve phone was given by sponsors of the show, MTN, to winners in each category.
And since Wande aka WC won in five categories, one is forced to imagine what need he has for five blackberries in addition to the one he uses at present. Anyway, people in the know have assured us that WC will not be selling them (the new phones). Rather he will graciously distribute them among his fave kokolets since he has no use for the gadgets plus the BB Curve is one of the cheapest blackberries in the market.
The Silent Moments
No, it wasn't just late Barrack O'Grin's tribute that made the hall go quiet. As a matter of fact, his tribute attracted more cheers than gloom: what with his father's memorial rap of the late CEO's Pon pon pon. Waje's superlative rendition of Da Grin's Ghetto Dream chorus showed off her enormous talent just like Omawunmi's Thank God freestyle drew a lot of applause.
The very sober moments were Sage's tribute poem, beautifully synchronised with visuals of the late rapper and creatively interjected with words of the deceased shown on the large digital screens. YQ and Zeez's painful though brief words, and all the customised shirts won by late Da Grin's relatives including YQ, with images and inscriptions of his several aliases: CEO, Soldier, Akogun, etc in which they mounted the stage to receive the deceased's award,
all stirred emotions with his mum drying her eyes frequently with a handkerchief. More touching was the two 7-layer rack of lit candles kept on the stage throughout the tribute while also playing the post-death release song If I die and the All Stars tribute song, 'My Regret' that eulogised the deceased.
Skuki is Next Rated
Since the inception of the HHWA in 2006, the organisers and their judges have managed to make near-accurate decisions especially in deciding who wins the Next Rated category. It is a predictive category of the most promising upcoming officially unreleased act in the year under review.
Thus far, two of the previous winners have not been disappointing speaking of Asa, who won in 2006 and went on to become a worldwide artiste.
Wande Coal, 2008 Next Rated winner, further authenticated the category and awards' rating by churning out immensely commercial music, rising quickly into the league of A-list artistes and now one of Nigeria's top five acts. Omawunmi Magbele won last year and released her Wonder Woman album afterwards and that's all.
Otherwise, she made nothing spectacular of her music career. This year's winner was a big surprise and there was almost pin-drop silence when the name was called. The duo- Skuki, were the least tipped of the five nominees in this category with Mo Hits' D'Prince and young and sassy Mo'Cheddar topping the list of predictions.
Like many argued last year that YQ, one of Omawunmi's biggest contenders should have won the category, already, they foretell that this year's judgement may have been another shortsighted one. Time will tell who's right.