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Innocent Ujah Idibia (2Face)
20 Feb 2011
Innocent Ujah Idibia better known as 2Face, was born in Jos on September 18 1975 to Michael & Rose Idibia. 2Face had his O’ Levels from Mount Saint Gabriel's Secondary Makurdi in 1992 and also attended the one year pre-degree remedial programme at University of Jos in 1994. In 1995, he was admitted into the Institute of Management & Technology (IMT) Enugu to study for a National Diploma (ND) in Business Administration but had to drop out of the ND programme to pursue a career in music.
In secondary school, 2Face whose musical talent was beginning to come to the fore formed a group called Black Universe with 3 other friends. After his secondary school, while seeking admission into a higher institution, he formed an alliance with his friend Augustine Ahmedu (BlackFace Naija) who was a class ahead of him in secondary school and they began performing in secondary schools shows in Otukpo and Makurdi. Back then 2Face was known as "Inni Raps" while BlackFace had the stage name "Barrister the Pirate".
While at University of Jos, 2Face formed a three-man group called Bad Manners who wowed crowds with the sensuous rendition of popular R n B and reggae songs in University and Polytechnic campuses around the Benue – Plateau State axis. 2Face’s first major performance in Otukpo Town was at the Most Beautiful Girl in Otukpo Beauty Contest at El Duniya Hotel on 23rd December 1994 where alongside BlackFace and Spikes Ugbabe, 2Face held the crowd spellbound with a headline performance.
After his remedial programme at University of Jos, 2Face moved to IMT Enugu, where he hooked up with BlackFace who was already at IMT. In Enugu, 2Face continued performing at social functions within IMT as well as at Enugu State University of Science & Technology, Enugu (ESUT) and University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC). These performances attracted the attention of DJs at 96.1 FM station in Enugu and this saw him composing and singing standout jingles for the station especially DJ Kevin Ugwu. Enugu was to play a big part in 2Face’s development as a musician. The wider audience acceptance he found in Enugu made him believe he could cut it professionally as a musician and hence the decision was made to relocate to Lagos, the home of Nigeria’s entertainment industry.
Before leaving Enugu for Lagos in January 1997, 2Face with his friend, BlackFace, formed the group Plantashun Boiz and with the creation of the group, decided to ditch the name “Inni Raps” and took the stage name 2Face, while BlackFace did likewise with “Barrister the Pirate”. With financial support from BlackFace’s elder brother, Plantashun Boiz was able to produce demo tapes which enabled them to showcase their talents to TV show hosts, radio DJs and event promoters in Lagos. Though their first performance in Lagos was at a DJ Jimmy Jatt’s show, Plantashun Boiz finally got the attention of music loving people of Lagos when they began making regular appearances on Cally Ikpe’s TV show.
Plantashun Boiz exploits on TV served as a platform for greater things to come and it was not long before they got their major break when they featured in the “Rothmans Groove in the Hood” tour of 1998. During the tour, 2Face met the Remedies and became good friends with Tony Tetuila and in 1999 when Tetuila left the Remedies; he turned to his friend 2Face for assistance with his solo effort. When Tetuila’s first solo album “Morning Tyme” dropped, the standout tracks were “Omode Meta featuring Plantashun Boiz” and “My Kind of Woman featuring 2Face”. 2Face’s voice on both tracks turned them into national hits and instant classics and the success of these songs rubbed off on Plantashun Boiz, as their popularity grew and music fans were eagerly anticipating their debut album.
In 2000, Plantashun Boiz (which now included a third member, Chibuzor Orji, also known as Faze) released their debut album “Body and Soul” on Dove Records. The album was a monumental success with 2Face’s maturing voice evident for all to hear on hit tracks “You & I”, “Iwo Ni Mo Fe”, “Don’t You Know” and “Ememma”. After the release of a second album “Sold Out” in 2003 with Plantashun, 2Face opted out of the group and went solo later that year.
2Face teamed up Kennis Music and by the time the first single “Mfana Ibaga” from his first solo album titled “Face 2 Face” hit the airwaves, a mega star was born. Little did we know then that more was to come and when the full album was finally released, Nigerian music scene changed forever thanks to the classic song “Africa Queen”, a song that celebrated the beauty and life of Africa women. The album “Face 2 Face” went on to sell millions of copy all over the world and also contained an Idoma song “Odi Ya” which featured former Plantashun Boiz colleague BlackFace.
After two years of world wide tours and concerts, 2Face released his second album titled “Grass 2 Grace” in 2006. The album which also went on to sell millions of copies included hit tracks like “One Love”, “See Me So”, “E Be Like Say” and “True Love”. True to his roots, 2Face as always included an Idoma song called “Ocho” in the album and this was in addition to always lacing most of his songs with Idoma phrases.
Though his solo career signalled the end of Plantashun Boiz, 2Face still has good relationship with BlackFace and Faze and in 2007 they came together to release a Plantashun Boiz album titled “Plan B”. The album had hit songs “Say You Believe Me” and “If You Want It”. After Plantashun Boiz’s third album, 2Face faced his solo career and in 2008 came out with his own third album aptly titled “The Unstoppable” which was released under 2Face’s music label, Hypertek Entertainment and featured collaborations with international artistes such as R.Kelly, Chaka Demus & Pliers and Sway. The album had hit tracks like “Enter the Place”, “Can’t Do Without You”, “Go Down There” and “Fly”.
In 2010, 2Face celebrated ten years of professional music career and also dropped his fourth album titled “The Unstoppable International Edition” which as the name suggests was the international edition of his third album "The Unstoppable" and the international standard was evident in the production quality as well as packaging. The album came in a jewel CD case, a far cry from the cardboard case normally produced in Nigeria and also had lyrics of all the songs in a booklet on the inside cover of the CD case. While some songs from the third album were remixed and retained in this album, 2Face added new songs to the album which includes the monster hit “Implication” a song he sang in English, Idoma and Tiv. Other hit tracks in the album include “Rain Drops”, “Be There”, “Emotions” and “Only Me”.
2Face has won almost all musical awards that are there to be won. He was the first winner of MTV Europe Best African Act Award in 2005. He has also won MOBO Award, Channel O Music Video Awards, KORA Award, Hip Hop World Award, Nigeria Entertainment Award, Nigerian Music Award, World Music Award, MTV Africa Music Awards and Sound City Award in addition to many other local and international awards.
The video for the song “African Queen” was the first ever video to be played on MTV Base Africa and was also featured as one of the soundtracks of the 2006 Hollywood movie Phat Girls starring Monique. 2Face’s larger than life image and success in the music scene took Nigerian music to another level and created the platform for Nigeria to dominate the music scene in Africa.
Despite his mega star status, 2Face is widely known for his humility and generosity and it was no surprise when he floated the Innocent Idibia Foundation with a focus to assisting disadvantaged and indigent children in Nigeria. In December 2010, the foundation collaborated with the Hands Project International, an NGO based in Abuja, to host an AIDS Charity dinner.
In late 2010, 2Face joined seven other super stars from across Africa to form One8, the Sony Music All African 08 Project initiative to record their first singles titled "Hands Across The World" a song written and produced by R.Kelly. 2Face is also known as the collaboration king in Nigeria following his joint efforts with some of the biggest names in Nigerian music industry as well as International artistes. 2Face is also known for his willingness to help boost the careers of up and coming artiste and hence the numerous collaborations with numerous little known artistes in Nigeria.