October 1, 2019 was meant to be Independence day. But asides Burna Boy's video for 'Another Story,' there was nothing worth celebrating. Thankfully, the day ended with a spice.
The organizers of Nigeria's premier music awards, The Headies announced nominations for its 13th edition. It is tagged, 'The Power of A Dream.'
23 categories were announced and they are; Best Recording of the Year; Best Pop Single; Producer of The Year; Best Rap Album; Best R&B/ Pop Album; Best Collabo; Best Rap Single; Best Vocal Performance (Male); Best Vocal Performance (Female); Next Rated; Hip Hop World Revelation; and Lyricist on The Roll.
Others are the Best Street-Hop Artiste; Album of The Year; Artiste of The Year; Song of The Year; African Artiste Recognition; Headies’ Viewer’s Choice; Industry Brand Supporter; Best Performer; Songwriter of The Year; Rookie of The Year; Special Recognition; Hall of Fame.
Burna Boy leads nominees with nine nods, followed by Teni with six. But no sooner had the nominations became meal for social media than the criticism rolled in. While most of the criticism came from illogical standpoints of people driven by buccaneering cases of laughable sentiment, one of those illogical arguments requires an explanation.
Naira Marley, Marlians and Headies snub
In an earlier article, Pulse wrote that, "The biggest snub is Nigeria's hottest artist, Naira Marley. Not only did he have 'Issa Goal,' Nigeria's anthem for the 2018 World Cup, it also featured Olamide and Lil Kesh. As if that was not enough, his arrest and subsequent arraignment on fraud-related charges shot him into a limelight like never before.
"Since then he has produced three hit singles back-to-back in 'Opotoyi,' 'Soapy' and 'Puta.' He has also given Young John 'Mafo' which looks set to be another hit. Before then, he had 'Japa,' 'Illuminati,' and 'Am I Yahoo Boy?'"
As Naira Marley has soared in status, his fan base has grown. The bulk of his fan base are young millennials and Generation Zers in the Nigerian mainstream who can relate to his avant-garde lifestyle choices.
Asides his lifestyle, he's the young man whom people was wrongly feel got scapegoated by members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He's also the father of four who 'survived' fraud charges and now walks free on the streets of Lagos, crafting hits and cashing out from shows. While certain people don't necessarily feel Naira Marley got scapegoated by the EFCC, they hate what the EFCC represents to Nigerian youth - a consistent reminder of abuse of power/office.
To people who cannot relate to his lifestyle, they rightly love his music. Naira Marley initially got criticized for his lyrical content and vulgarity, but the appeal of his Rexxie-produced sounds have proven far too powerful to simply ignore.
The final demography of Naira Marley's fan base are his UK brethren who don't even care about his reputation. They have loved him from day one and they still ride for him. These UK brethren as well as Naira's notoriety have also swayed other members of the Nigerian disapora to take interest.
Thus, the 'Marlians' emerged. They are loyal, well-represented and sometimes, aggressive both online and offline.
A few weeks ago, Naira Marley started trending after he teased his latest single, 'Pxta.' His fans drove conversations that he was Nigeria's artist of the year. They had a case, but it was never going to be that easy.
Thus when the Headies 2019 nominations dropped and Naira Marley was snubbed, the problems started on social media. At this point, chances are the 'Marlians' will call for a coalition and 'protest' their king's snub.
Does Naira Marley deserve a nomination?
Ordinarily, it's a huge omission. By a little gap, Naira Marley has been Nigeria's hottest artist of 2019. Five hits back-to-back is not something to gloss over. In 2018, he also had 'Issa Goal' and 'Japa.' However, the 'Marlians' should calm down. Naira was never going to get nominations.
Sadly, they were both ignorant and delusional. Even worse, they either thought too much of their king or thought too little of his reputation and antics.
Most awards shows don't associate with people as controversial as Naira Marley. Even worse, he has a pending charge on fraud-related issues. If that is not enough, the content of his songs are just not nomination-worthy.
As Pulse noted earlier, "Even if The Headies wanted to nominate him, they have sponsors and a brand. Naira Marley is not what you want your brand to be associated with right now." These are facts.
The entire purpose of having a company is brand representation. No brand wants to be associated with fraud, misogyny and excessively sexualized content that sometimes gets derogatory.
Why do brands avoid this drama?
Controversies are polarizing. While some people will support the 'culprits' or perpetrators like Naira Marley, a lot of people will be against them. No brand wants to lose its customers and sponsors on the account of one person - in this case, artist.
All you have to do is ask Gillette. After its 'anti-toxic masculinity' ad a few months ago, it continues to lose male customers so much that it had to do another ad that glorifies masculinity.
Your brand matters.