Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Polygamy was Never the Plan" - 2FACE IDIBIA

Innocent '2Face' Idibia is known as 2Baba to his fans and admirers. The 'Baba' is an appellation and a form of respect in recognition of his person and his music. He is constantly  in the limelight, not just because of his music, but also because of some of his escapades, ranging from gun attacks, his five children from three women and most of the activities of those women. An example is their alleged fight after his fantastic concert at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, on Saturday, September 18, 2010.

I recently took him up on different issues, including his music, women and lifestyle. Ever humble (the major reason why he has survived up until now), he happily responded to all my questions as I sat down with him at a hangout in Ikeja, Lagos… (Excerpts and quotations from this interview has appeared on various websites and blogs since it was published in ENCOMIUM MAGAZINE a few weeks back but here is the complete version.)

What went into the show? What did you put in to bring out the kind of performance we saw at Eko Hotels on September 18?
A lot of money, time and dedication on the part of the crew involved in it. The band, dancers and media who hyped it up and the people who came out, paid money and took out time to come. Then, the grace of God. We rehearsed for about two weeks non-stop before the show.
You have been performing with a live band for sometime now, when did you decide on that line?
Towards the end of last year was when I decided that I was no more going to perform with CDs again. I don't want people to come and watch me and only
 hear what they have heard on CD before. I want to give them something different, because if it's the CD they wanted, they might have as well stayed at home and played it on their sound system. I wouldn't have even needed to perform on stage at all. Performing live with a band gives the people the chance to get a different feel and at the same time enjoy the music.
How do you advise other artists to go about leaving their CDs and go with a live band?
It depends on how you are using the CD. It's not everybody that can sing with a live band. Some people's strong points might be dancing or other performance skills. Others might get their timing right with the live band, but no matter what you are doing on stage, just try
 and make it worthwhile to your audience.
You are already past ten years in the industry, please talk about your development and evolution through the years?
I just thank God for what has happened to me musically. I discovered my talent early and I decided to follow it up. So far, I am not exactly where I want to be yet, but I will say I am heading towards there. I thank God for where I am today.
How do rate your contribution to the Nigerian music industry in your years there?
Personally, I have brought some prestigious awards back to Nigeria soil; I have encouraged the new generation to embrace whatever form of music they are comfortable in doing. In terms of record sales, I will say I was the first person to have sold over a million
 copies of my records and my label declared it and it was confirmed. I have done over three successful albums, Face2Face, Grass2Grace and The Unstoppable, International Edition. To me, those are very big achievements and they have gone a long way in encouraging the younger generation of Nigerian musicians.
Who were some of the people you looked up to while coming up?
Over the years, we have had a number of different top class musicians who I have looked up to. There was Majek Fashek. Femi Kuti, Lagbaja, Baba Fryo, Daddy Showkey, Blackky, Weird MC and so many others. I can't remember everyone, but it's not like I want to omit anybody.
How successful has your experiment with The Unstoppable: International Edition been?

Overwhelmingly surprising, because many people thought that nobody would buy my CD for N1000. But surprisingly, people now call and just make requests and place orders. They don't even want to deal with the paper packs anymore. It all comes down to the fact that if people like something, they will go for it, no matter how costly it is. Definitely, the number of people th
 at would buy it for N1000 will never be the same with those that will buy for N150, but if 20 people buy for N1000 and 100 people would buy it for N150, we have already cancelled out their number.
What were some of the things you took into consideration before embarking on such a venture?
Number one was sacrifice, because nothing good will happen in Nigeria if people are not willing to sacrifice. And that sacrifice is the gamble, but one thing is certain, if you believe in something and you want it to work, God will be with you. The thing is that I just want quality to come back into music. From the sound to the CDs and the way it is packaged. When those happen and you sell it for the appropriate price, we will be able to make more money and be able to compete with our counterparts in other parts of the world.
The N1000 is not even up to what other internationa
 l acts sell their CDs. Their CDs go for $15 to $20, which is more than N1000, but we are on our way there. With time people will realize that that's the way my CDs are and if you buy anything else, you are supporting piracy. I never ever thought for one day that it would be easy or that my CD was not going to be pirated. Piracy is still in the system, but with dedication, seriousness and concerted efforts we can reduce it to the bearest minimum.
What are some of your suggestions toward the eradication of piracy?
The public, the government and the agencies involved in the implementation of the anti-piracy laws should all put their hands on deck. The people should please shun pirated copies, just like they run away from fake drugs. If piracy doesn't see people buying it, it will fo
ld shop.
The government should clamp down on pirates too. They are criminals, just like the thieves we catch on the streets. The agencies should go all out in stamping out piracy. No crime syndicate should be stronger than the government. We know that it cannot be wiped out in one day, it will take time, but we all should come on board and start on the right path. Just like our count
ry, nobody can arrange Nigeria under four years, but we can start on the right track in that time. Under one year, power should be taken care of, roads can be taken care of and so on.
Going back to your concert, what was the idea behind the Tonto Dike dance part?
Tonto is one of the very talented actresses we have in their generation and she is beautiful. In my song, Flex, we just wanted to add a little drama to it. We thought of a whole lot of other beautiful ladies to use, but either some will not be available on the day of the show or something else. So, I called Tonto who is my friend and a professional actress. It was all part of the job and Tonto is crazy too. She liked the idea and we put it into practice.
Do you have a deeper relationship with her?
No, we are just good friends.
The little girl you used as the Africa Queen is Annie's daughter, why did you choose her among the other children?
I chose her because she is my daughter.
Don't you think the other women would feel bad or neglected?
No, nobody felt like that.
How are you managing to keep all of them happy?
I just try to be a good person. No ojoro, no partiality and no favouritism and everyone is happy.
You have been pictured at different times in matching dresses with each of them at different times?
If mommy and daddy do a naming ceremony for their child, I don't see anything wrong with us wearing the same clothes. I and Pero wore the same dress during the dedication of her child and it was the same thing with Sumbo and Annie. It's just for our children to see our solidarity during their celebrations.
Looking at the period when the children came, d o you agree with most people that you would have been bigger than you are now if you hadn't involved yourself with all these women?
I don't know if I would have been bigger than I am now, but one thing I know is that it really affected me. There's no doubt about it. It definitely affected me.
But all in all, people will talk and others will criticize and others w
 ill rejoice at their fellow man's misfortunes because that's how human beings are. But they really affected me.
Yet in saying that I would have been bigger is what I don't I don't know. Maybe all those things happened to prevent me from doing something worse. Maybe they even calmed me down and diverted me from doing something that was worse, but I don't know.
But looking back, would you have done the same things again?
Polygamy was never part of my plan. I never ever planned to be polygamous. Everybody has their plans, but mine was never to be polygamous. But I would have done the same things agai
 n, which is to accept the children. Everybody has choices and I chose to take my kids.
You are home-based artist, you were born and bred in Nigeria and have been here ever since. In some of your trying periods and even at normal times, have you ever consider quitting the country and going to live somewhere else?
It has never crossed my mind. Never ever. But now you are talking about it, it could have been a nice idea to relocate from the country.
What do you think about people not really embracing the Unstoppable album in 2008, and now singing the praise of this new international edition?
I think when the old Unstoppable came out, most of the negative stories about me affected it and also the promotion of the album was poor. The style of music I did was
  geared towards the intellectuals, than the layman, but it wasn't because of the songs, but the promotion. But I just added a few things to this new one and it worked.
What about the number of 'collabo' you have do ne, it seems you are involved in far too many collabos at the moment?
Well, if you don't do, people will talk and if you do, people will also talk. But at the moment, I have stopped all collabos. Anyone you hear now was done sometime ago and there are still more that are yet to be released. Some are as far back as three years ago that are still to come out, but right now I have stopped.
How can one succeed and progress in music?
First and foremost, you have to have a talent. When I mean a talent, it's either you know h
 ow to sing very well or you know how to rap very well or you know how to entertain and to get the right people to work with you. Then, hard work and humility are very important.
What are some of the mistakes to avoid?
To start believing that you are too much, believing that you have made it and that nothing can affect you again.
What is your advice to the upcoming ones?
I just want them to know that music is not an escape route, it's a full time profession and they should take it seriously and they should respect people and respect God.

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