By BENJAMIN NJOKU
When 2face bestrode the Nigerian music scene likea colossus in the 90s, one thing was uppermost in his mind – to rule the world with his music. And today, 2face, born Innocent Idibia, has not only conquered with his music, he has set a new record that generations yet to come may find difficult to surpass.
Over the years, the ‘African Queen’ crooner has exhibited a steadfast passion to reinventing the wheel and strength of creativity that has come to define the genius that he is.
Like a gold fish, the Idoma, Benue State-born superstar has no hidden place. He has remained as constant and formidable force as a northern star in the Nigerian entertainment industry. As a member of the defunct Plantashun Boiz, who alongside groups like The Remedies, kick-started the Afro hip hop revolution of the late 90s that gave birth to what is today known as the Nigerian contemporary sound, 2face has paid his dues. In the past 43 years of his life of excellence, the songster has perfectly inspired many young Nigerians with his kind of music.
Known for his popular hit-track, “ African Queen”, a song in praise of the African woman which he released in 2004, under the Kenny Ogungbe’s Kennis Music Label, 2face deserved all the accolades that have trailed his career in music in the past 18 years. Releasing “African Queen”, was the best thing that happened to 2face’s career.
The song did not only elevate the status of the superstar, but also, it went on to earn him the recognition of being one of the most iconic African musicians of all time. Apart from being used in the soundtrack for the film “Phat Girlz”, which was released internationally, the song later became a somewhat national anthem. And 2face would forever acknowledge the huge mileage and international acclamation the song brought to him. Interestingly, the love of his life turned out to become his African Queen, Annie Idibia, who was in the music video.
Indeed, while his music clearly stands the test of time, 2face has continued to defy odds as one of the greatest artistes of this generation. Even when his contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, the superstar has remained standing, dishing out evergreen songs year after year. His latest single, “Amaka”, featuring budding DMW act, Peruzzi is a testament to his originality and unfading talent in music.
The song, which narrates story of disappointment by a love interest, Amaka, produced by fast rising music producer, SperoachBeatz, suddenly catches fire and becomes popular for his work on Davido’s raving single, “ Assurance. “In 2017, 2baba as he’s popularly called now, also unlocked one of his previous year’s biggest hits, “Gaaga Shuffle” which instantly became a fans’ favourite. His other hit songs such as “ Dance in the Rain”, “Only Me” , “ True Love”, “The Ascension”, which he used to mark his 40th birthday recorded commercial success .
The Unstoppable”, his third album, released in 2008 and featured RnB king, R Kelly was repackaged in 2010 and made waves in the international scene. He went on to release his fifth album, Away and Beyond, which he dropped in 2012, with songs like ‘Spiritual Healing’ and ‘Rainbow’, becoming club banger tracks. He has done numerous collaborations with both old and young artistes. At a time he signed veteran highlife mastroe, Sir Victor Uwaifo to his Hypertek Imprint. Also, Sammy Krane was signed to his record label. He also did a collabo with another Highlife legend, Victor Olaiya.
2face has come a long way and his ability to sustain the tempo till date makes him a legend, as it still beats the imagination of many. In one of his interviews, the African Queen crooner identified ‘humility and belief’ in oneself as key factors to being a successful musician.
As he noted, “The number one factor to success is that you have to be ready mentally, physically, spiritually and every other ‘ally’. You have to be ready to face challenges.”
“Number two is respect,. You must respect people because people are the backbone of your success and they could lead to you failure. Respect your fans and the people that contributed in one way or the other to your career, because there is no artiste that can come out and say he or she is an island.”
“You must have some level of humility as well. It’s not necessary that you greet everybody you see on the road; but you have to know that since you have put yourself out there, you must be humble. And you also need to have talent; talent is key because it is the foundation on which you will build your career as a musician.” These attributes are the unknown secrets behind his success in music. They are also the live wire of his existence.
To many, 2face is a symbol of humility. He does not discriminate against the younger artistes. And like a bard, he remains a true consolation to the emerging Nigerian artistes. He functions between the veteran and the younger stars. A musical genius, 2face has reinvented himself to stay on top of his game 18 years after he first stormed the scene with the Plantashun Boiz group album, ‘Body and Soul’ released in 2000 and 14 years after his debut solo effort titled, “ Face2 Face” which sold over two million copies.
2face once attributed his success to hard work and consistency. He believes that in an industry where an artiste’s success is rarely sustained, the artistes should never assume they have arrived after dropping one or two hits. For him, an artiste should continue to work harder in order to consolidate on the gains of his career plan before smiling to the bank. 2Face did not take this belief for granted as it really worked for him. Despite his success, 2Baba still feels unfulfilled.
“I am somewhere now but not exactly the place and position I want to be. I still want to go far. I am still hungry to achieve other things as a business man and not just a musician,”he once said in an interview.
Ask him, how he got to where he is today, and he would not hesitate to tell you: “I worked for my success and when it started happening, I wasn’t so surprised.” That’s 2face for you. One of the pacesetters of modern hip hop music in Africa. Sound Sultan, who featured in one of his songs described 2face as “a natural phenomenon.”
Sultan, while appreciating 2face’s musical exploits attributed the singer’s success story to his undeniable humility and accessibility. “In life, you have to be humble and accessible. Everybody is important. And 2face is like that. He knows that he has talent as well as a fantastic voice. But it goes beyond that. No matter how famous you are, you must be humble and accessible. Everybody is 2face’s fan as well as his friend,” Sound Sultan said in a chat with Entertainment Plus.
Also, AJ artiste, Daddy Fresh, believes that 2face’s consistency and personality are inevitable factors that set him apart from his contemporaries. But whichever way, you want to look at it, 2face remains one of the pacesetters of modern hip hop music in Africa. It’s on record that he was the first Nigerian artiste to have his music played on MTV Base Africa. He has won many laurels, signed many endorsement deals, and graced many international stages in the course of his music career. And what is more…
Among his former band mates, Plantashun Boiz; Faze and Blackface, 2face is the only one standing. Faze and Blackface are still struggling to find their feet in the Nigerian music scene. With over 18 years on stage, the proud father of six has seen it all. He has had his ups and downs, weaknesses and strengths. But above all, he’s a true legend of his time. Notwithstanding the soft spot he has for women, which he acknowledges in his new song, “Amaka” , 2face is the fans’ favourite. While age and time are still on his side, it’s safe to say that 2face’s best is yet to come…