Not even his enemies (if there are any) will dispute this: Innocent Ujah Idibia, globally known as 2 Face or 2 Baba, is undoubtedly one of the best things that has happened to the Nigerian music industry. Immeasurably talented and immensely successful, the 39-year-old, from Okpokwu, Benue State, is still disarmingly humble and very respectful, in spite of everything. No airs. No puffy shoulders. Nothing, as a matter of fact, suggests that inside of his slim and sexy frame is a man of so much importance. At Ayeni Adekunle’s BHM office, on Community Road, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, October 28, 2014, YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, encountered him. And at the slightest prompting, the African Queen crooner and multiple award winner consented to this interview. The thrust? His music career, guiding principles, regrets, women, etc. Enjoy…
What makes a good musician?
Men! Dis question na set up question o. You know why I say so? Because what makes a good musician na de ability to fit let people just dey feel something wey normally dem no fit creatively think of how to feel that way. But when you do the music now, they will be able to connect, they will be able to relate and feel dat something dat will evoke one spirit in dem and make dem feel something in their lives – happiness. The happiness go just dey evoked because of the music; if na sober reflection, the music go make dem really, really dey reflect soberly; if na praise…So, a good musician is an artiste that can communicate people’s feelings through music effectively. Let me close like that.
What makes a good song?
Whaaoh! For me, a good song still goes with that good musician talk. A good song is a song that irrespective of the lyrics, irrespective of anything else, a song that any time it comes on, majority, I mean, more than 50 percent of people wey dey there, more than 50 percent of people wey dey around must be like whaaoh! Wetin dey happen so?
What is the costliest mistake that any musician can make?
Na to believe say na him gbab pass everybody.
What does 2 Face like most about being a musician?
What I like most? Em…what I like most? I think it will be being the voice for so many voiceless people.
Alright. What don’t you like about being a musician?
Em…the fact that when you enter that public space, you don sabotage your privacy be dat. That’s what I don’t like.
What is the greatest thing that being a musician has done for you?
I think the greatest thing (that music has done for him) will be being able to make a living for myself and for my family. I think that’s it. And being a voice for the voiceless.
What has being a musician not done for you?
I for like make e be say if say ah, let there be peace; peace for just dey everywhere (General laughter). But e never reach dat level.
Most people attain success in your line of business, but they are not able to sustain it. Where would you say they normally get it wrong?
I think dat syndrome of yes, I don arrive. That thing is a major factor in so many people falling along the way. Many times if you check it; it is that syndrome of yes, I don arrive and na dis level e go dey. Forgetting that you have to keep working on your level.
What distinguishes 2 Face from the other musicians? What makes you different? What stands you out?
Hmmm! I think one of the things that stand me out – 1. – my gorimapa (clean-shaven head), my voice, my structure…What I’m trying to say is you know this thing is a finger print (Demonstrates with his finger). Two no dey ever be the same. So, just based on that, I am me, I am Innocent, I am 2 Face. So, na wetin differentiate me from everybody be dat.
A lot of people look up to 2 Face, who does 2 Face look up to?
The people wey I dey look up to eh, majority of dem don kpai o (dead)…
Can you tell us some of these people?
Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. The only living ones now go be persons like Bongos Ikwue, Prof. Victor Uwaifo. I say that because these are men that did their thing at the top level and after that dem still maintain, dem still dey. Dem still dey do business, very, very, very on point.
One sumptuous thing that nearly everybody talks about is your humility in spite of how much God has blessed and elevated you, how did you cultivate that?
(Laughs) – Well, for me, I will attribute that to my parents; the way they brought me up. They brought me up to know that look, everybody is important. So, even when we were young, even if we had a house help in the house, my parents dey let me know say dis one self na person, dat I still need to wash my clothes by myself. The househelp na just basically for some things wey mumsy no get power to do. No be say na slave or anything. So, na dat respect for people. That’s how my parents brought me up.
What specifically got you interested in music, what exactly triggered that urge or strong desire to say I want to do music?
For me, I think music came naturally. Music came naturally. For me, there was no point in time where I was thinking should I go for music or not? It was a natural thing right from when I was small. It was obvious that music is something that I’m going to do. Because right from when I small, e don dey show say ah, dis thing dey dis guy body.
Which of your songs don’t you like?
(Laughs roaringly) – Which of my songs I don’t like? Whaaooh! You know say I dey always hear which of your songs be your favourite songs, I never hear which of your songs you no like before (Still laughing). Nice one! (Thank you). So, I never think go dat side. No, but for real, which of my songs wey I no like? (Thinks). Men! (Laughs again). This is a very tough one. Na very tricky question be dis. Em…which of my songs I no like? Men! This question took me unawares. I still have to think about it. I really have to think about it. Because, you know, honestly, up to the top of my head now, I can’t really say oh, I don’t like this particular one.
If you had not grabbed the mic to sing, what else would have been doing?
You know like I said, me and music, it wasn’t a co-incidence. So, I have never, never thought of doing anything else. But there was one point in time that I was really, really into football and na goal keeper I be dat time. So, I been dey think am say if music no work, I go just enter football just turn to goal keeper peacefully (Laughs).
You get written about nearly all the time. What is the saddest thing that you have read about yourself?
Hmmm! The saddest thing I have read about myself? The problem is – I’m somebody that, I mean, I get sad when bad things happen. But when it comes to rumours and talks and all that, e no dey really sadden me…
Can you recollect the worst one?
E dey only make me disappointed or angry a little bit, but the anger sef na just say ah, men, dis person sef no even do him home work. He just decide to go write wetin he wan write. But in terms of sadness, no. It doesn’t get to that level.
What is the nicest thing that you’ve heard about yourself? Or that you’ve read about yourself?
The nicest? (Yeah!) Hmmm! Whaaooh! The nicest thing that I’ve heard about myself? Na say men, dis 2 Baba na very gentle guy (Laughs).
Do you have any regret about some of the things that you did, but shouldn’t have done?
Okay! Em….I learn from anything that happens; I learn from it and you know one thing about life – it’s that once something has happened, it has happened. So, I am not the type that regrets. I mean, there are some things that I wish they never happened, but I learnt from them, so…
Can you be specific?
Em…I didn’t plan for me to have kids from different women. But it’s happened and I’m just taking it the way it is. But if you ask me what I wish, I will say ah, I for like make all of dem (children) come from one person. Yes!
With the benefit of hindsight now, what is the best way to cope with women?
Just take am easy! (Laughing).
What is the most difficult thing about stardom?
Maintaining your privacy.
For a big star like you, what is the best way to flee from women?
Just be free. Just be free and open and peaceful. Because sometimes if you decide to be harsh; some will actually come based on genuine love. But you know say normally some dey come based on another level. But if you decide to be harsh, you go fit pursue the good ones comot. So, just be open. If you see say na like dis, you suppose know. You suppose know if you see say na dis particular angle dis one dey follow, so you go know how to tackle every situation.
God has been very nice to 2 Baba, what more do you want from Him?
I just want the world to get one love, and Nigeria also.
People listen to your songs when they want to relax or need something to nudge them out of boredom. What does 2 Baba do to relax?
May be na TV. If I wan relax, I just dey watch TV, changing channels, different channels and I go just dey flip from one channel to the other or I go just sleep or go hang out with some friends or I listen to music.
Can you remember that singular event that turned around your life?
I think one of those events will be the first time I met a man like Edi Lawani. We be no bodies then, but him just welcome us like guys, how far? Na dis kind thing una dey do? Okay, nice, nice, nice…And from there, he started recommending us to different people.
NB: First published November 2014