It’s been a period of celebrating a Nigerian music principality. An icon in the game; yet with its robust accolades come loads of issues. EDIALE KINGSLEY and KAYODE BADMUS take you through the journey.
TONY Tetuila had just been dumped by the Remedies and the Golden boy needed to make a statement for himself in the industry which was then being ruled by his former band mates, Eedris Abdulkareem and Eddy Remedy. He was bitter and needed to tell his story and this impelled the production of his first solo hit, Omode Meta. While the song itself was on point due to the story line and verses from Blackface and Ruff, Rugged & Raw, one voice stood out. That resonant voice, so rich, so profound who added the sonorous ad libs which no doubt is one of the highest points of the track. ‘Oooooo, se re o, won sere ayo’ will resound in my head as I sat in class for lessons as a Jss2 student at the time. No that wasn’t all, the same voice joined Tetuila again in ‘My kind of woman’ and this time, it was just the two of them. While Tetuila didn’t disappoint, the voice simply owned the song with his rich vocal delivery while comparing a woman to the local liquor ‘ogogoro’ and how both are highly intoxicating. Many predicted it wouldn’t be long before he departed from his partners at the time. No, Tony Tetuila didn’t introduce us to this voice. He had been in the industry for about 4 years with his former group, Plantashun Boiz and they were the biggest Afropop band in the country at the time. While they maintained that there was no boss or lead singer, the Nigerian music audience had already crowned ‘the voice’, the face of the group.
The voice is Innocent Ujah Idibia popularly known as 2face Idibia. 2face Idibia has come a long way in his musical sojourn. From his humble days as an upcoming singer who performed free shows in Enugu up to that moment when he moved to Lagos on a 10 hour road journey with Blackface and squatted in the house of the latter’s late uncle in Festac. Due to a simple conviction ‘I can sing, I can control my vocal keys’ and with this weapon, he set forth to challenge the world. 18 years later, Innocent Ujah Idibia has emerged the undisputed Nigerian king of contemporary music. He is that big influence every upcoming artiste see as an inspiration, he is that humble star every fan refer to when lashing out at braggadocios acts and he is that man who has moved from his flirty notoriety to being faithful on the home-front with a focus on putting his all in bringing up his children. This stage however was arrived at due to an overdose of hard work.
After the success of two albums with Plantashun Boiz and with the group’s clause allowing him to move on, 2face approached Keke Ogungbe of Kennis Music in 2004 and this birthed the creation of a music legend. He dropped ‘Nfana Ibaga’ and the track went on to shake the airwaves. His first album, Face 2 Face is no doubt the most successful debut album by any Nigerian musician in the last 20 years. Everyone knew every song. Not even his Idoma rendered ‘Odi Ya’ was left out as fans would sing word for word despite not understanding what it meant. ‘African Queen’ will go on to garner global recognition and was used as the soundtrack for the Hollywood film, Phat Girls.
In 2face’s voice… ‘the ministry was moving’. After releasing another album, ‘Grass to Grace’ with Kennis Music which was equally successful, 2face moved on and founded his own imprint Hypertek Entertainment with the support of Efe Omorogbe of Now Music. It has however not been a bed of roses for the musician who is the first Nigerian to win an award at the MTV Europe Music Awards. He has been at the receiving end of several life threatening experiences, he has been a subject of different controversies and a subject of jokes especially due to his lifestyle with women. Even church pastors use 2face Idibia’s name during their sermons. Before setting down with Annie Macaulay in 2013, 2face had fathered 6 kids with 3 different women (Annie included) but this never deterred him from his ’emotional target’ whom he eventually hooked in a grand ceremony in Dubai on March 23, 2013. The couple has since welcomed another baby putting 2face’s babies at 7. He has however disclosed that marriage has changed him in a whole lot of ways especially his approach to certain things. 2face has grown into a pop icon, a music figure, an undisputed king whose name will always come up when music is the topic of discussion. The invasion of Psquare wasn’t enough to dethrone him, and not even the incredible combination of D’banj and Don Jazzy who arrived the scene during his reign could put him in the background. 2face evolved before his time and today none of those who began music around the same time as he did have any relevance in the industry. He is no doubt the undisputed king of pop not just in Nigeria but on the continent.
Today we celebrate the hero who has looked above all his deficiencies [and yes…he’s got some] but focused on his gifts to take the world by storm. Above his inability to dance, challenge to keep a conversation outside the use of pidgin and his polygamous destiny [yes…we know he didn’t get married to other baby mamas]. Above all these is the face we all love to know; the face of a humble music god from Benue state.
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