The 2016 Headies nominations are in, and Nigeria’s leading music lady, Yemi Alade comes through with what is relatively a paltry one nomination for the Artiste Of The Year.
That’s weird isn’t it?
Yemi Alade is currently regarded as one of Africa’s best female singers, and the MTV Africa Music Awards Best Female Artiste for two years in a row. But at home, where the Headies Awards represent the cream of her local industry, and the most consistent and highest yardstick for judging the performance of artistes, she falls short.
Yemi Alade has had a very busy 2016. She dropped her sophomore album, “Mama Africa”, which hit the No. 1 position at Africa’s iTunes charts, and proceeded to travel around the globe performing all of her singles, and gathering the wealth and the recognition. She has also moved past the project, and has focused her attention on releasing new music. Two post-album singles ‘Want you’ and ‘Gucci Ferragamo’, have come from her, with countless videos being released by her team.
On the continent, she receives lots of love, performing to sold-out venues, and collaborating with the best in different countries.
But here’s why she failed to justify her position at the Headies nomination list with just one nomination: Her success is not solely propped by the quality of her music. Yemi Alade’s ‘Mama Africa’ album has done more for her in terms of branding than provide actual artistic and concrete value.
Yemi Alade’s creative formula involves making music drawn from Ghanaian highlife, Ivorian dance music style coupé-décalé, as well as American hip-hop and pop, and passed through her Nigerian filter to give the final product.
That final product on many levels isn’t spectacular, but it is branded heavily and pumped full with very strong videos to back it up. That’s why they never chart as singles or make any major dent within the country. But the serve as live performance materials, and the video is distributed perfectly across all major channels to spread the brand Yemi Alade.
Yemi Alade’s success is a function of every element of her art and branding working in sync to provide a strong, relevant and culturally sensitive artiste. From the branding to the PR, to the visual supply of videos, and the provision of music, everything supports the other, to maintain her relevance and position.
But when they bare split, dissected and isolated from each other, they all come up short. That’s why the singles fail to make the categories for the Headies, but the singer, the sum of all the work and the product of every element working together is thrown into the Best Artiste category.
Yemi Alade is a great artiste, but her songs are not strong enough to stand alone and compete for the best prizes amongst the best.