Celebrating 20 years anniversary of 2Baba’s ‘Face 2 Face’

May 15, 2024, makes it 20 years since Nigerian seminal superstar 2Baba released his debut album ‘Face 2 Face’.

Before 2Face Idibia (Now 2Baba) left the boy band Plantashun Boiz to chase a solo career, he was adjudged by many to be the band’s most talented member.

In fact, superstar rapper Eedris Abdulkareem couldn’t resist the urge to point this out in ‘Wackawikee MC’ where he dissed former Remedies members Tony Teitula and Eddy Montana as well as the Plantashun Boiz.

It was this huge expectation based on proven talent that preceded the release of 2Baba‘s debut album ‘Face 2 Face’ which was an emphatic statement of his ability and ambitions.

Released under the iconic Nigerian music label Kennis Music on 15 May 2004, ‘Face 2 Face’ would carry the zeitgeist of Nigerian pop music in the 2000s with heavy hip-hop and RnB influences.

For 2Face, the album was crafted to position him for commercial success justifying his decision to leave the Plantashun Boiz. ‘Face 2 Face’ would achieve this as it houses some of the biggest hit tracks that defined the 2000s and rocketed 2Baba as the face of Nigerian pop music.

‘Face 2 Face’ welcomes listeners to 2Baba’s world where he shares his many thoughts through mind blowing lyrics, melodies, and compelling versatility.

“Today is the first day of the rest of my life,” he says in the hit song ‘Nfana Ibaga’ where he delivers his statement of intent that will alter the direction of change the Nigerian soundscape.

2Face had many things to share and he found exciting ways to communicate these thoughts. When he raps about love on the hit track ‘Ole’ he effortlessly molds melodies in unprecedented fashion.

2Baba is arguably Nigeria’s most gifted artist and his unbelievable ability shines in elevated lyricism, remarkable shapeshifting, and mind blowing delivery.

The acceptance of his fallibility offers food for thought on the lyrical masterclass ‘U No Holy Pass’ where he cautions his critics who have a lot to say over his decision to leave Plantashun Boiz and the way he choose to live his life. This record is one of those songs that reminds listeners that there’s about nothing 2Baba can’t do as he effortlessly flows over the strings and drums of Rock music.

While the album carries significant hip-hop influences, it also has the palpable RnB music that shaped the American soundscape in the early 2000s.

On ‘Right Here’, 2Baba pours out his heart on a brilliant domestication of RnB and hip hop hybrid popular with Western RnB stars like Usher, Craig Davids, and Joe.

The album’s biggest song is the classic guitar ballad ‘African Queen’ which will break the commercial roof of Nigerian and African music. If there’s any such thing as a perfect song, it will be ‘African Queen’ as the writing, delivery, and production make for a perfect combination that is one of the most important records in the history of Nigerian mainstream pop music.

The success of 2Baba’s ‘African Queen’ transcended the shores of Africa as it was used in the 2006 Hollywood movie ‘Phat Girls’ which was one of the earliest exportation of Nigerian mainstream pop music.

2Baba is known for being an artist who constantly uses his music to speak on social justice and this is a trait that runs back 20 years ago.

On ‘Police Skit’ listeners get a commentary on the state of the Nigerian Police who are hardly distinguishable from armed robbers.

2Baba is one of Nigeria’s music’s most indefatigable hitmakers and he laid the blueprints for what’s to come on the groovy party-starter ‘Keep on Rocking’ feat Natives & Lil Seal where he effortlessly switches language and flows.

‘Face 2 Face’ is a product of an era when artists craft wholesome albums with something for every listener and a concerted effort to carry a national outlook. Tracks like the gospel tune ‘Thank U Lord’ and ‘Odi Ya’ feat Black Face where he showcases his Benue roots point to this effort.

20 years after its release, ‘Face 2 Face’ is celebrated as a hall-of-fame Nigerian album that laid the blueprint for the hit projects in the Nigerian mainstream.

‘Face 2 Face’ showed listeners many sides of 2Baba – the singer, the rapper, the songwriter, the sage, the hitmaker, and ultimately, the pacesetter.

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