The Headies went down this weekend, and while there were a few expected wins — like Rema bagging ‘Next Rated’ and Burna Boy winning ‘Artist of the Year’ — the night was mostly filled with shockers, the biggest being Falz’s Moral Instruction winning ‘Album of the Year’ over Burna Boy’s Outside.
So, we at Zikoko decided to go through all the albums that have ever won this award — from P-Square’s Get Squared to Asa’s Asa — and rank them from best to worst, considering not just their individual quality, but the projects they were up against in their respective years.
13. P-Square’s Get Squared
The least original album to ever collect this award, P-Square’s Get Squared is a wildly overproduced body of work — one that relies way too heavily on samples of much better songs. Granted, it’s far from a bad project, but an ‘Album of the Year’ win still feels like a serious stretch.
12. 2Baba’s The Unstoppable (International Edition)
2Baba has one of the best discographies in Nigeria, so it makes sense that the Headies wanted to reward the icon in a big way. It’s just too bad that it ended up being for his most forgettable album, which won over gems like M.I’s MI 2: The Movie and Asa’s Beautiful Imperfection.
11. P-Square’s The Invasion
Although it’s a considerable improvement over Get Squared — thanks to stronger lyrics, more original production work and better chemistry — P-Square’s The Invasion still didn’t deserve to beat out Wizkid’s game-changing Superstar and Naeto C’s Super C Season for the award.
10. Olamide’s Baddest Guy Ever Liveth
While there’s clearly a great album hidden somewhere within the excessive 21-track Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, it’s simply packed with too many filler tracks to be the dubbed the best album of that year. That honour should have gone to either Burna Boy’s L.I.F.E or Phyno’s No Guts, No Glory.
9. Olamide’s YBNL
The first Olamide album to win this award, YBNL might have been more deserving than most of that year’s nominees — specifically Davido’s Omo Baba Olowo, Iyanya’s Desire and Flavour’s Blessed — but the trophy should have inevitably gone to Banky W’s accomplished R&BW
8. Falz’s Moral Instruction
Moral Instruction is a beautifully produced and, at times, thoughtfully written album. That being said, the most interesting thing about it is how blatantly it invokes Fela’s spirit. Does that make it more deserving than Burna Boy’s career-defining Outside? Definitely not.
7. Kizz Daniel’s New Era
Among the best afropop debuts of this decade, New Era introduced Kizz Daniel as a true master of the genre. Before his aptly-titled sophomore album, No Bad Songz, this was the first real proof we got that Kizz is incapable of dropping a weak track.
6. Olamide’s Street OT
Out of all the times Olamide has taken home this award — three, for anyone keeping score — this was certainly the most deserved. Street OT, his fourth studio album, remains the rapper’s strongest effort to date, filled with timeless gems and career-best hits.
5 Simi’s Simisola
Only the second album by a woman to win this award — a whole decade after Asa won for her self-titled debut — Simisola is one of the most cohesive Nigerian projects of this decade, propped up by great songwriting, eclectic production work and Simi’s inimitable voice.
4. Paul Play’s Hitsville
The greatest r&b album out of Nigeria, Paul Play’s spectacular Hitsville is stacked with stunningly written and authentically performed classics – ranging from “Angel Of My Life” to “Forever”. It’s honestly a little criminal that more people aren’t still talking about it.
3. 9ice’s Gongo Aso
In one of the most competitive years to date, 9ice’s thematically rich second album, Gongo Aso deservedly beat out worthy contenders like M.I’s Talk About It and D’Banj’s The Entertainer. It not only sidestepped the dreaded sophomore slump, it completely obliterated it.
2. Asa’s Aṣa (Asha)
The first album by a woman to ever win this award, Asa’s awe-inspiring debut captivated Nigerians the instant it dropped. Thoughtfully written and immaculately performed, Aṣa (Asha) is the rare Nigerian project that seems to only get better with age.
1. Wande Coal’s Mushin 2 Mohits
For as long as the Headies continue to chug along, this will most likely go down as the best decision they ever made. Flawless from top to bottom, Wande Coal’s unforgettable debut was a landmark album that forever changed the face of afropop.