TO get to this young artist, who’s gradually turning to a legend, these days one has to really go extra mile! So, when we came across him – purely by chance – we thought we couldn’t resist the temptation to drill him a little bit! You think you’ve heard all 2face has to say? Well, try this!
You’ve been in music business for 10 years, what are the things that have kept you going?
The love for all I do. I truly, deeply, love making music, writing, recording, performing… everything.
You’ve had a torrid relationship with the media, how do you manage interviews such as this?
I don’t think I’ve had a bad relationship with the press. A section, at a certain point in time, maybe. But like everything in life, there are people who want to attack and others, who want to show their appreciation of what you do. I take it as it comes.
You’ve had a turbulent last few years, is there anything that, given the benefit of hindsight, you would do different either in your professional life or personal life?
I’m thankful for all the experiences. Some have caused me some discomfort but I accept the good and the not so good as experiences you have to undergo as you grow in life.
This year you’ve gone from Abuja to Calabar to Makurdi. And there’s yet Bayelsa on the way. What is the significance, if any, of the locations chosen to celebrate your 10th year in the business?
We have tried to spread out the activities to reach as many different locations and classes of people as possible because the 2Face brand connects with all kinds of people everywhere. We had two shows in Abuja, a show for middle class fans and a VIP package; Calabar hosted my birthday bash because my friends there insisted they wanted that; Bayelsa is for my Niger Delta people; Makurdi was a charity event in support of the NAFDAC public awareness initiative. We’ll have one in Jos hopefully. It’s the land of my birth and we’re working with the state government to organise a peace walk to mark the anniversary of the crisis. Of course, there must be something for Lagos; you know now. We must represent for Lasgidi, no shaking!
What is the relationship with the mothers of your children?
We dey try. Everything is chilling! We have a responsibility to the kids.
In the last month alone, you’ve been to Canada, Malaysia and the United States. How do you cope with the itinerant musician you are? And how do your kids cope?
It gets crazy at times considering that you have to add Abidjan, Jo’burg and Nairobi to that list; plus all the local Naija runs for like Port Harcourt, Bayelsa, Abuja, Makurdi. Sometimes sef I no dey get chance even sleep. But that’s been the reality for a few years now. I’m thankful to God. I’d rather have this than be idle and unwanted. I try to create time for the kids in between these trips. It’s something to constantly work on.
Your last album, despite reports of not being a commercial success, is an apparent critical success having won several awards within and outside the country. Moving forward, how does this bring to bear on your songwriting and future materials?
We thank the Lord. It’s always been like this. The people who focus on the music have expressed a deep sense of satisfaction with the album from the onset. Those who were preoccupied with other issues really didn’t listen to the album. That’s why every now and then you hear someone say, this “na 2Face song? I no bin know say e dey that album o!” Half the people who have talked about the album say it is their favourite 2Face album yet; so sometimes you wonder where all the stuff is coming from. The album is soon to be officially released into the international market and the licensees are excited about the prospects; so really, The Unstoppable has done pretty well. There have been marketing hitches within the local market and we needed to have done a little more with the initial promotion. But it’s a young label. Every every go dey arrange as we dey carry dey go. As for songwriting, I’m spontaneous. I don’t really work with formulas. I follow the inspiration in whatever direction it leads. I don’t like limiting myself to one style and approach because it has given me a hit before.
Why does an international star of your status retire to Festac Town after traveling the world? And especially after the attacks you’ve had in the community.
FT is my hood and I’m very attached to it, I must confess. But then again, we are who we are. Whatever Nigeria is today is what we have made of it. Probably I’m saying some real world-class products can come out of all kinds of places in Nigeria no matter how tough it is to survive here. I might also be trying to call the attention of the leadership to the fact that every neighborhood can be upgraded so that all of us are not struggling to move to just one part of town. If you look around you’ll find that there are a couple of very decent stretches of property in all kinds of places – Festac, Ikeja, Agege, Omole everywhere. The general state of security, roads and other things just has to be upgraded. All of us no suppose to squeeze ourselves for just one place now. Abi how you check am?
What is the idea behind the KAMSUP Free Concert on January 1, 2010?
It is meant to be the climax of the Infinit2: A Decade Of Trailblazin’ package; my 10th anniversary celebration. KAMSuP is short code for Kids Against the Menace of Sub-Standard Products. As you know, I am a NAFDAC ambassador and we’re driving the free concert with the NAFDAC theme. My friends and I will be giving a free concert to about 5000 young people as a New Year’s Day present from Hypertek, Now Muzik and the Infinit2 production team.
You are relatively quiet despite your stature. You have given back to the society through several platforms. As someone in showbiz, why do you choose to be silent about such things when you could let your fans and detractors know what you are doing in the background?
Selfless service is best served quiet. Sometimes it gets out. Some of what I have done gets reported. Management and publicists will insist but really I would rather just do what I can. As long as the beneficiary feels the impact, they don’t even have to know who has given.
Is there a point in your career that stands out as a highlight; a point when things took a turn for the better or otherwise and changed your life for good?
Ol’ boy those kind times dem many o. I can’t pinpoint a particular one but I have a lot of major moments — good and not-so-good.
It would seem that you have been off the radar for a bit. What have you been up to?
Off the radar? Not sure how exactly you mean but ok. I’ve been up to finishing work on The Unstoppable (The International Edition), working on a few videos, executing Infinit 2 events in Calabar, Lagos, Makurdi, Bayelsa, Jos and more. I gave performances both at the MAMAs and the Channel O Awards, won at the Africa Music Awards in Europe. I was nominated for the Face of Hope, I played at the Miss ECOWAS pageant in Port Harcourt, recently did concerts in Canada, Abidjan, Kuala Lumpur, Dallas. With so much on my plate, maybe I should be permanently off the radar.
You have an upcoming exclusive event in Lagos as part of the Infinit2 series. What are your teeming fans supposed to expect?
2Face Idibia Live, Upclose and Intimate is an exclusive show for a select crowd. It is 2Face like you have never seen me before. There will be a brief cocktail, then two hours of me, my music and my audience upclose and intimate. Just like we describe am but no too fear the “intimate” part. Na intimate but no be one-on-one so no cause for panic.
Everybody has an opinion as to who you are and who you should be. Do you feel pressured because you are a role model? Do you ever have to do anything because you know the camera and the lights are on?
There is constant pressure I can’t lie. What I miss most is my freedom, freedom to be me, be ordinary, freedom to experience life, make mistakes and learn from them. But most times the pressure keeps you on your toes in a positive way because there are millions of young people looking up to me. It’s a responsibility I welcome but I am only human. I will make mistakes. I will feel low and weak sometimes. Life is like that. Maybe it’s also a good thing that people see you stumble so they know it’s a part of life. They need to draw inspiration from the success of their role models but basically find the heroes inside themselves because nobody holy pass.
What is the next step for you?
A new phase. The next decade by the grace of God: more work, better music and hopefully better results.
The album, The Unstoppable, postured as an international release (or an album targeted at an international audience). How successful was that venture in your own estimation?
We are on course. We just sorted out distribution and push. We are looking good. Everything chilling chilling.
You have worked with some rather big names in the past and are friends with multi-platinum selling recording artistes Wyclef and Akon. How did you handle the R. Kelly debacle? How do you feel about the fact that you are being discredited despite your enviable track record?
People should first of all verify the claim and sources of the guys who reported the R. Kelly disclaimer. Thereafter, I will feel obliged to really respond because I wouldn’t have any reasons to raise issues with R Kelly’s lawyers or representatives if truly R. Kelly never said that. It’s unfortunate that after recording with Clef, Beenie Man, Chaka Demus and Pliers and a lot of other great artistes I have had a lot of respect for on deals that I even did not solicit for, people would be somewhere trying to suggest that I will condescend to the level of doing what I am now being accused of. Very unfortunate. But then again, people are people. Some of us are straight-forward, others are not so straight-forward. Na so.