…As Sen. Ita Giwa, US Consul General, F. John Bray, Alibaba, others, celebrate the music legend
BY ROTIMI AGBANA
When Afro-pop music legend, Innocent Ujah Idibia, a.k.a 2Face, now fondly called 2Baba, began his solo music career in 1999, after his exit from Plantashun Boyz, he probably had the slightest idea if the light of fame would shine on him at all.
But for two decades, he has ruled the Nigerian music scene with matchless musical prowess, timeless music and an undying talent that has proved he is one of the most talented, timeless and skillful musical genius the entertainment industry has ever produced.
Unlike some of his contemporaries who are now obsolete on the music scene, twenty years down the line, the African Queen crooner has remained relevant, responding to the music market demands by keeping up with the trends. Little wonder a schedule of activities to mark the 20-years anniversary was necessary for the acclaimed king of Afro-pop music in Nigeria.
While taking a retrospective look at his 20-years music career during a chat with Showtime at a private dinner, held as part of activities to celebrate his 20-years of releasing back-to-back songs, 2Baba spared no words in expressing profound gratitude to God and everyone who have supported his music so far.
“I just thank God for my musical journey. I want to thank everyone that has supported me on this journey so far because it’s been twenty years since I held sway; twenty years since Nigeria knew me. People have been hearing my music before; from Benue and other cities, but the first time I officially kicked off my music career professionally, from Plantashun Boyz was in 1999, twenty years ago. Since then I’ve been here.”
He added, “So many people have been part of my journey; there have been so many ups and downs. I’ve said so many things I shouldn’t have said, I’ve made some foolish decisions; but then I’ve done a lot of great things that I’m grateful to God for. I’m grateful to God and all my fans for still being here; I’m grateful for all my critics and for all those that have supported me all these twenty years. It’s been lonely at the top, but it’s no more lonely, because many young bloods are now taking music even beyond where I took it to and that’s my joy. But you know as they say ‘Old soldier never dies’, so I’m still much relevant and at the top.”
Speaking with Showtime on 2Baba’s 20-years solo music career, veteran broadcaster, Chief Executive Officer/co-founder of Kennis Music International and a senior partner at Primetime Entertainment, Kenny Ogungbe, who took the risk of signing 2Baba to his record label, Kennis Music International, after his exit from Plantashun Boyz, described 2Baba as a dedicated, perfect gentle man whose career has been from grass to grace.
“2Face’s journey has been from grass to grace. He is a perfect gentleman, dedicated to his work. He is a comedian, you may not know but those that are close to him will tell you that he’s so humorous”, he said.
Recounting how the journey began, he expressed excitement to be part of 2Baba’s career successes even when he had the slightest idea if it would eventually pay off.
“I feel good to be part of 2Baba’s great achievements; it makes me feel very good. I feel very good because this is what we started. Who knew it would be as big as this, nobody! We started with serious hustles, around places like Los Angeles, London, South Africa, Portugal, London, Argentina, Jamaica, and all over the world. Today, everybody is going anywhere to do anything with music. But 2Baba started with these new crop of musicians, so he should be respected; not just respected but highly respected. I remember when we won the first MTV Europe Music Awards, a lot of Nigerian musicians prayed that the God who did it for 2Baba should do it for them too. Today, we have a lot of Nigerian musicians winning a lot of awards all over the world. 2Baba started it, and today, to God be the glory”, he said.
If the saying, ‘Behind every successful man is a woman’ has ever been in doubt, Annie Idibia, 2Baba’s wife, is a true epitome and her words, while celebrating her husband’s achievements, expressed every bit of it.
“20-years with 2Baba as the king of music in Nigeria have been amazing; it’s been a rollercoaster ride, though with its ups and downs but then, he’s always close to me. He’s consistent, he’s relevant; 20-years and he’s still reigning. 20-years he’s still the king, he’s still dropping music hits back to back every year”, she mused in excitement.
Speaking further, she noted what 20-years with 2Baba have taught her so far.
“2Baba’s 20-years reign has taught me to be humble, it has also taught me that no matter what is thrown at you don’t give up; keep pushing and just pray to have God’s grace by your side. I want the kind of God’s grace that Innocent has, he truly has God’s grace by his side constantly”, she said.
While celebrating the singer, veteran comedian, Alibaba, described him as a creative junkie who has mastered his craft over the years.
“2Baba is a legend; he’s a creative junkie, a reggae fanatic. In fact, he’s a master musician and he is awesomely talented. 2Baba can jump on any song anytime; all you just need to do is to get him into the music mood and he’ll just listen for a few minutes. 2Baba has lyrics; he doesn’t write down his lyrics, he has lyrics in his body so he just fine tunes it. 2Baba is like looking for music on any radio station, you just fine tune him and he pour out volumes of music for you. 2baba is a very generous guy; he’s a great investor, so he knows how to manage money properly.
He’s a lover of children, he’s an ambassador, and he’s a justice of peace. Beyond being an ambassador of peace and all of that, he is the most sought after brand ambassador because of the quality he delivers. 2Baba is very intelligent; he has a great sense of humour. He responds well to market research and reports. He would tell you that he studied this song and this is where music is going now so he would go that way to. And he never gets it wrong; his songs are a response to the market trend. He knows the musical trend and then he is not dated; dated in the sense that you can’t put him in a particular generation of music. 2Baba cuts across every era. He is a fashionista. Forget every other thing; 2Baba is the king of music in Nigeria. In Nigeria, we know there are kings and there are kings; so that’s how 2Baba is. He’s a king; you can decide to place him wherever you want to place him”, he noted.
Unarguably, 2Baba has been able to assert himself as a timeless musician who is loved by both the young and old. Little wonder 73-years-old Senator Florence Ita Giwa expressed undying love for the ageless singer while showering him with deserving accolades.
“I’m happy for my son, Innocent 2Baba. I’ve followed his music career for forever. I love him very much and I respect him. Innocent is celebrating 20-years of his music career but he is timeless; he is loved by the old and the young. I’m 73-years old but I love him forever, for as long as I live. I watch him whenever I’ve time. When I’m campaigning, I watch him campaigning from the other end against vote buying, against violence during elections, for the ordinary man in Nigeria.
I watch him campaigning for politicians to win elections when they are supposed to win elections; not to rig elections, not to kill people during elections. I watch him campaigning against people children being used to win elections and when they eventually win the election, the parents will lose their children and they would be forgotten by the politicians. I wish him many more eventful, successful years. And I must tell you this; I remain loyal to 2Baba for the rest of my life”, she said.
Speaking on his affiliation with 2Baba, United States Consulate General, F. John Bray revealed his attraction and love for the talented singer.
“When I was a small boy and I first came to Africa, I used to listen to the likes of Alfa Blondie and others. But anywhere I was and his music came on, one thing it had was the spiritual sage that he uses to thrill the people. But it’s not only about the spiritual sage that he’s been using to thrill the people, it’s about the foundations he owns. He started with his first foundation, the 2Baba Foundation and we worked a great deal with this foundation because our goals coincided. We wanted free and fair elections, we wanted people to vote and not fight and we wanted peace in the north-east, which he preached in a movie project, ‘In Love and Ashes’. All these things he achieved over the space of 20-years. When I first came to Nigeria, there were only three names I knew; Sanni Abacha, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and 2Face Idibia. Once a king is always a king. 2Baba has always done well, so God bless 2Baba”, he said.
Among those who could conveniently write a biography of 2Baba is top Nigerian disc jockey, DJ Jimmy Jatt, his close friend of over two decades who lived up to expectation while looking back at the journey so far.
“The journey with 2Baba has been very interesting, it’s been great but of cause you know there would always be challenges along the way but I think it’s been more of great times than anything. I’m so happy to see where he is right now, I’m excited for him. I’m happy for my friend; he is more of a friend to me than the 2Baba that everybody knows. I know him as a person, I knew him before the fame and he is still the same guy.
Not many people can remain that way after fame. 2Baba is very unassuming, very down to earth, very humble, very respectful of people, and he cares about relationships. Efe Omorogbe has been his manager since his solo career and Annie has been his girlfriend even long before the fame and they are still together. That says a lot about 2Baba. Right now we’re tighter as friends than we were, though we’ve always been friends. We’re closer now though. 2Baba is a true guy, he’s a very sincere person; it shows in everything he does and this endears people to him. In terms of his talent, you can’t deny it that he’s extremely talented. He gets the job done every now and then. He’s one of the very few musicians whose music has the substance in the Nigerian music industry”, he said.
The exclusive dinner had the likes of Senator Florence Ita Giwa, singer, Jaywon, Managing Director of Trace TV, Sam Onyemelukwe, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Olisa Adibua, Senior Program Officer, National Dispute Institute, Bem Aga, former Plantashun Boyz band mate, Faze, Nelson Brown, Managing Director, Megaletrics Limited, owners of Beat FM, Chris Ubosi, veteran high-life music singer, Dede Mabiaku, and many other key stakeholders in the entertainment industry in attendance.
According to 2Baba, other activities lined up to mark his 20-years on stage anniversary include the launch of his autobiography, a documentary on how he has impacted Afro-beats music in Nigeria and beyond, an album launch, club tours, charity works, music concerts among other activities yet to be announced.