Headies Awards: See Past Winners and Nominees of the Next Rated Category I FULL LIST AlabaMusic
Headies Awards See Past Winners and Nominees of the Next Rated Category I FULL LIST

Headies Awards: See Past Winners and Nominees of the Next Rated Category I FULL LIST


Founded in 2006 with the name Hip-Hop Awards, the awarding society had from its initial show proved instrumental in highlighting new talents that will inform the Nigerian soundscape in the coming years. A juxtaposition of their nominees and winners of the Next-Rated categories in the past against their latest selections will reveal that while the brand continues to evolve, first in 2006 from being Hip-Hop awards to the Headies Awards, and now with more global sights in mind, the Headies have always regardless of whatever shortcomings served as an undisputable measuring unit for the pool of fresh voices on the cusp of mainstream relevance. While the concept of gatekeeping is often protested against, by spotlighting the works of these era-informing acts, the show serves as a much-needed gatekeeper, ensuring that the ball of musical excellence doesn’t drop past a certain point while successfully mirroring the heart of the music scene at any given period. Very recently, the Headies announced that their forthcoming show will include 6 new categories and be held in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA as well as their nominees for their most followed Next-Rated category. While the nominees; ZinoleeskyAyra StarrRuger and Buju stand a first time ever chance of winning the latest version of the Bentley Bentayga, along with the tacit stamp of talent verification that the award is, their selection as always, maintains the standard they’ve set. As a result, in this list we examine the Headies awards Next Rated nominees and winners of each edition they’ve had since their inception:

Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2006 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Asa

Nominees: Not announced


The very first Headies award, (then Hip-Hop awards) for the Next Rated category had been won by Asa in 2006. The much-revered singer had been fresh to the scene with two singles; Eye Adaba and Jailer. Yet, they’d been able to show skill in recognising talent by putting their back behind her artistry which was largely different in that era. Other nominees for the category were however not announced and it remains a possibility that there weren’t too many contenders for this category back in 2006.

Today, Asa has quietly dominated the music scene for over two decades and five albums while inspiring other talents to stay true to themselves regardless of how different their music may seem.


2. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2007 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Overdose

Nominees: Overdose, Naeto C, C-Mion, Blaise, Gion, Kage, Lawal Olumo (Konga)


A lot of things have happened since 2007 but 15 years ago at the Headies Awards, rapper Overdose had been the man of the moment, clinching the award for Next Rated among a list of nominees made up mostly of rappers who were just as talented in their own right. Overdose who is most popular for his Solah-featured single, Alujo had gone up against Naeto CC-MionBlaiseGinoKage and Lawal Olumo who rebranded as Konga. This nominee list had captured the pulse of Nigerian music at the time given that back in the 2000s, rap had been the music staple and the scene had been dominated by rappers inspired by cadences of the MCs in the East and Westcoast where the sound had been birthed in.

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3. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2008 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Wande Coal

Nominees: Wande Coal, M.I Abaga, Banky W, GT the Guitarman, Cyrus Da Virus

Wande Coal
Wande Coal

Before Wande Coal shattered the scene with his first-class project debut on Mushin 2Mohits, he’d put out two singles that had not only grabbed the attention of the mainstream but also the Headies awards, earning him a spot on their list of nominees for the coveted Next Rated awards. The singles were Bumper2Bumper and You Bad featuring D’BanjWande Coal was nominated alongside Banky WGT the Guitarman and M.I Abaga and his raw talent had stolen the show, getting him the award in a category with two other skilled singers and a rapper. The 2008 Hip-Hop awards, now Headies had also mirrored the scene’s progression towards more pop-inclined records, termed Afrobeats, with M.I Abaga and Cyrus Da Virus being the only rappers to make the list of nominees.

4. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2009 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Omawumi

Nominees: Omawumi, Kel, YQ, MP, Djinee



While the Nigerian music scene remains heavily male-dominated, it was more so back in the 2000s. Omawumi was the third out of four female acts that were nominated in the Next Rated category since its first edition, and the second woman to bag the award in 2009. The Headies nominees list however signalled a rise in female musicians in the scene as it was the first version ever to have two female nominees with winner, Omawumi and rapper Kel. Other nominees included singers, YQMP and Djinee.

5. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2010 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Skuki

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


At the start of the 2010s, the music scene had now assumed shape as a mostly pop-hinged one and the era of ‘Pon pon’ was at an all-time high with fast-paced records with deliberately jarring mixes dominating the airwaves. At this point, the NBC’s rule for radio stations to have Nigerian songs on rotation was in full swing and Nigerian songs were getting airplay and love from Nigerians. The Next Rated award that year had given nod to D’PrinceJesse JagzGeneral Pype, with Mo’Cheddah as the singular female nominee, while pop duo Skuki had taken the award home.

6. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2011 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Wizkid

Nominees: Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Ice Prince, Olamide


The Headies awards Next-Rated nominees list of 2011 will undoubtedly go down in the history of Nigerian music as one of the most powerful lists of the category. That year alone, the award show had rebranded from the Hip-Hop awards to the Headies and had nominated Tiwa SavageIce PrinceOlamide and Wizkid as their Next-Rated acts. The award had gone to Wizkid and in retrospect, the Headies had predicted the next Golden era of Nigerian music which had seen pop sounds go beyond the Nigerian borders off the efforts of each of these nominated acts and others in years to come.

7. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2012 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Davido

Nominees: Davido, Eva Alordiah, Praiz, Chuddy K



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In 2011, Davido had waltzed to the top of the charts with his Dami Duro single. Soon after, he’d put out his debut album, Omo Baba Olowo and had this had earned him a slot as a nominee on the Headies Next Rated category alongside Eva AlordiahPraiz and Chuddy K. That year, the Headies had simultaneously foreseen the rise of yet another Nigerian megastar by making Davido their Next Rated act.

8. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2013 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Sean Tizzle

Nominees: Sean Tizzle, Seyi Shay, Phyno, Dammy Krane, Burna Boy

Sean Tizzle
Sean Tizzle

Even as the award show’s former winners of the Next-Rated categories were establishing themselves as trailblazers, the Headies continued to with that same category, spotlight other super talented acts, serving as a pedestal for Nigerian talent and tenacity. One of such examples is Sean Tizzle who had been crowned the Next-Rated act in 2013. He’d been nominated alongside Dammy Krane, Burna BoySeyi Shay and Phyno. After his Headies recognition, Sean Tizzle had gone on a relentless run of hit singles. The other nominated acts had made a name for themselves, with Burna Boy rising despite all odds to become one of the top three acts in the modern-day music sphere.

9. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2014 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Patoranking

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



The 2014 Headies Next-Rated nominees list had been a full-on party train with Yemi AladeOreziRuntownSkales and Patoranking featuring as the talents in consideration. The award had gone to Patoranking who’d hit the scene with Alubarika and soon after, his Girlie O hit.

10. Who won the Headies awards Next Rated category in 2015 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Reekado Banks

Nominees: Reekado Banks, Cynthia Morgan, Lil Kesh, Korede Bello, Kiss Daniel

Reekado Banks
Reekado Banks

On the 10th edition of the Headies awards, the ruling for the Next-Rated category had led to an unforgettable clash of label execs, unfolding live on National TV. This had happened after Reekado Banks had been awarded as the Next-Rated star of the year in a category that had Lil KeshKorede BelloCynthia Morgan and Kiss Daniel (now Kizz Daniel) as contenders. Shortly after, when Olamide had climbed the stage with his YBNL crew in acceptance of Adekunle Gold’s award for Best Alternative Act, Olamide had declared that Lil Kesh and his breakout single, Shoki was more deserving of Reekado Bank’s award gotten off the back of his Katopot single. Don Jazzy had, later on, replied while on stage to receive a Special Recognition award and the two label owners had feuded briefly till business mogul, Aliko Dangote had stepped in. This singular event had made the 2015 Headies one of the most followed and talked-about editions while on the industry level, it highlighted the intrinsic competitive nature of the numerous talents on the scene.

11. Who won the Headies awards Next rated category in 2016 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Mr Eazi

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

Mr Eazi

Mr Eazi

In 2016, Nigerian music had not only started to take flight past the borders of the country but was beginning to take on different inflexions, both local, international and from neighbouring countries. There had been the rise of South-Africa’s Mzansi music through Davido’s Mafikizolo collaboration and other similar crossovers which had led to the infusion of electronic beats even in sounds from the streets. And equally noteworthy was the importation of Ghana’s Banku music thanks to Mr Eazi. The singer had had a great year in 2015 and 2016 with this sound and had won the Headies awards for the Next Rated act in the latter year. Mr Eazi had secured this win in a category that had rapper, YceeHumblesmithTekno and Aramide as nominees.

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What happened to the Headies awards in 2017?

In 2017, there was no Headies Awards and while reports have it that it was due to a lack of sponsorship, the awarding society itself refrained from making a statement to clear or corroborate such speculations.

12. Who won the Headies awards Next rated category in 2018 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Mayorkun

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


In 2018, the Headies Awards saw progression of a different kind when one of the earliest signees of their 2012 Next Rated awardee won the award 6 years later. Precisely, this unfolded when Mayorkun won the award while up against Maleek BerryDice AilesJohnny Drille and Zoro, two years after he was signed by Davido to his DMW record label.

13. Who won the Headies awards Next rated category in 2019 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Rema

Nominees: Rema, Fireboy DML, Joeboy, Zlatan, Victor AD, Lyta


When Wizkid broke onto the scene in 2010 with his Holla at Your Boy single, he’d been 19. Almost a decade later, this was topped by Rema, following his introduction through Dumebi at the age of 18. The singer had then become the youngest person to hold the title of Next Rated star in his very same year of breaking out. This had signalled the undeniable rise of the new-gen as the Mavin act had found worthy contenders in other young acts like Fireboy DMLJoeboyZlatanVictor AD and Lyta. In fact, it was tagged as the year of the boys and signified the staff of a new golden era.

14. Who won the Headies awards Next rated category in 2020 and who were the nominees?

Winner: Omah Lay

Nominees: Omah Lay, Tems, Bella Shmurda, Oxlade

Omah Lay
Omah Lay

After a two-year drought of female voices on the Next Rated category, in 2020, the Headies had further underpinned the change of guard in the music industry and this time with Tems as the female nominee. The year had been a remarkable one with equally qualified breakout stars yet no one was surprised or displeased to see the award go to Omah Lay who was nominated alongside OxladeBella Shmurda and the aforementioned Tems.

For the 15th and forthcoming edition of the Headies Awards with the year 2021 in review, the tone has been set with chart-toppers who have all released successful singles and projects and cuts across different pop cadences to include BujuZinoleeskyRuger and Ayra Starr.

As the music industry and its onlookers excitedly await the crowning of the Next Rated star for 2022 set to happen on the 2nd of July, it has clearly become undisputed that the Headies Awards has through their platform been significant in recognising the musical stars of the future.



And The NEXT ONE MIGHT BE Zinoleesky

Zinoleesky – Gone Far

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