Lagos — He started his music like most Nigerian youngmen with raw talents but he has been able, within so short a time, to carve a niche for himself locally.
But it would seem he is also set to conquer the world. Last Thursday in Lisbon, Portugal, Nigeria's 2 Face Idibia won this year's Best African Artist Award at the prestigious MTV Europe Music Award for 2005, thereby putting Nigeria on the global musical map as he now sings for a larger audience. How far will his talent take him? Davidson Iriekpen reports
Innocent Ujah Idibia as a name would draw recognition from only a select few who are informed music listeners and enthusiasts. But mention the name 2face and wham! You get everyone chanting any one of his popular songs such as Ifana Ibaga or African Queen.
2face entered the consciousness of Nigerians as a member of Plantashun Boyz, the immensely successful R&B/Hip-Hop boy band which included Blackface and Faze. Easily the most dominant force in the Plantashun Boyz, 2face has carried that overwhelming success over to his solo pursuit.
His debut album, Face 2 Face, presently enjoying heavy rotation on television and radio, is reported to have sold over 300,000 units in less than three months of release and the mania seems to be just getting started. Considered a sex symbol by adoring female fans since his emergence with the Plantashun Boyz, 2face's fan base has grown to include the guys, the kids, the mamas and papas.
Born in tin mining city of Jos, Plateau State, in the late 70s, 2face is a product of the Institute of Management Technology, Enugu. and he has emerged as one of the most respected vocalist/song writers in his country today. He is also a recipient of numerous awards such as Fame Music Awards (FMA), Award For Musical Excellence in Nigeria (AMEN), MNET's Award (Where You At?) etc.
He has also graced some of the biggest concerts in the land. 2face is unarguably at the top of his game and the Nigerian music scene at the moment and has every reason to chant his infections "Nothing Dey Happen" slogan because it is all too obvious that for the young man, this is only the beginning.
On Thursday night, in far away Lisbon, Portugal, 2 Face emerged the 2005 MTV Best African Artist in a contest that pitched him against four contenders also from the continent. They include, Zamajobe of South Africa, Kaysha of Democratic Republic of Congo, 02 of Angola and Kleptomaniax of Kenya, who are by all standards rising stars in their respective countries. That 2face clinched this prestigious title is a serious to Nigerian music.
The event tagged: 2005 MTV Europe Music Award, held at the prestigious Atlantic Pavilion located at the heart of the ancient city of Lisbon. Before the presentation on Thursday night, pundits had actually predicted 2face's victory considering his exploits on the music channel since its launch early this year in Lagos.
The event, which generated a record-breaking 13 million votes on-line and via WAP was spiced up with comics and jokes of the inimitable Borat Sagdiyev from the Sacha Baron Cohen arsenal of comedy characters.
Having watched him perform at launch, Alex Auks, Vice President and General Manager, MTV base, was full of confidence that the Nigerian pop music sensation would break record as the first African artiste to win the award.
The category which made its debut on the global live music event at the Lisbon outing was created to underscore the contribution that African artistes have made to the realization of the objective of the music channel. "This is a landmark year for Africa. First, MTV launched its first ever African channel, MTV base, and now it has created this milestone award to recognise the artistry, creativity and passion of African musicians.
MTV: Music Television, the first 24-hour video music network, is today the world's most widely distributed television network with nearly 419 million subscribers in 164 countries and territories. The leading multimedia brand for youth the world over, MTV has been named the world's most valuable media brand by Interbrand for the past four consecutive years and consistently ranks among the top 50 brands overall. With 80 distinct music programming services in Canada, Asia, Europe, Australia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, MTV tailors its channels to local cultural tastes with a mixture of national, regional and international artists, along with locally produced and globally shared programming.
Music and lifestyle are at the heart of the channel's programming, from music video-based shows to award-winning news coverage, as well as original long-format programming. MTV's regular programming includes series such as Total Request Live and The Real World; specials such as MTV's Choose or Lose and MTV News Special Reports; and events such as The MTV Video Music Awards and MTV's Movie Awards. MTV's edgy graphic look, irreverent VJs and innovative music specials and documentaries all contribute to MTV's status as the leading authority on music for generations of music fans and a worldwide pop culture phenomenon.
As a young band singer/songwriter, 2-FACE had since caught the picture of a superstar as a member of a pop music group, Plantashun Boyz. But his profile as R&B exponent of note began to assume a distinguishing outlook when he broke away from the group and cemented his solo popularity with his catchy, lyrically inspired, heartfelt songs, sung in a mixture of English, local dialect and Pidgin English
A truly iconic status was conferred by the massive success of his hit song, African Queen, a soulful anthem to the beauty of African women, which won fans across the African continent, and was subsequently chosen as the first ever song played on pan-African music channel and MTV's 100th channel, MTV base.
After major critical and financial success for his debut album, Face 2 Face, which has sold in excess of two million copies, a mantelpiece full of awards, and collaborations with Wyclef Jean and Beenie Man, Idibia's eagerly-awaited second album is due in late 2005.
Altogether, the presentation, which lasted till early hours of Friday, featured a total of 29 categories with pop music stars, Coldplay and Green Day winning two awards each. The former won awards for Best Song for 'Speed of Sound' and Best UK & Ireland Act while the latter won the Best Album for 'American Idiot' and emerged 'Best Rock Act'.
Popular musicians who performed at award night included Akon, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Gorillaz & De La Soul, Green Day, the Queen of pop, Madonna, Pussycat Dolls, Robbie Williams, Shakira, System of a Down and The Black Eyed Peas.
This was Madonna's first worldwide live TV performance of her upcoming single 'Hung Up'.
Meanwhile, 2face Idibia among other top Nigerian artistes and comedians expected to perform and entertain guests at the second edition of Africa Movie Academy Awards scheduled to hold in Abuja on April 26, 2006.