By Joy Isi Bewaji
I don’t like ‘African Queen’. And I am not a fan of 2face. In some quarters, that is blasphemy. But I respect his crown, and his somewhat legendary status in the industry.
I think he is deserving of all the love and praise. But he is not the one who’d make me jump into a furore for his music – whether buying concert tickets or endless arguments on social media about his work. I am indifferent, but far from ungracious towards his recognition as one of Nigeria’s best.
When there was Plantashun Boiz, I was rooting for Blackface. It was evident 2face had a distinct lovable voice; but Blackface had a presence. My first experience of the duo was on a Tetula song – that one dedicated to his teammates, Eddy and Eedris. Blackface rapped, 2face took the high notes. It was refreshing.
Eventually they went their separate ways, after successful albums were made. What do they say? Twenty children cannot play for twenty years. Boy bands have been breaking up forever – from America to Canada to Timbuktu.
The aftermath, however, of this Naija boy band split is still a pestering wound in the life of one of them – Blackface.
I am yet to understand why Blackface is so consistent with his grouse. By God, I loved Blackface’s music. That ghetto feel is out of this world. I was rooting for him to take on a different route from 2face.
It’s like Champagne versus cigarettes. Not too many people like Champagne, but the addiction to cigarette is what will keep a smoker hooked for 20 years without the strength to retire.
2face is loved mainly because he is a great artiste, of course. But it could also be that he is loved because of other qualities he displays. Nigerians are huge believers of “humility”. Think Efe of Big Brother Naija; we are drawn to characters who display low views of their own importance.
2face exhibits that kind of humility. It works every time. In Nigeria, the opposite of Humility is not Arrogance. The opposite is self-respect or self-awareness. We want people to beg or pay for basic respect. So when you approach situations with a sense of awareness, you are rebuffed.
But I deviate.
2face is clearly loved. A love that births more love. Like the love for Champagne. However, Blackface had an opportunity to be an addiction. A more exciting quality for a musician.
His career would have been the marijuana of music. That high you need that you can’t explain except the next fellow acquires same extraordinary sympathies; then you can both experience something profound. That could have been Blackface’s career in a nutshell. But bitterness will not let this man be great.
The rancour has been on for years; years that could have birth beautiful music as a solo artiste; years that could have strengthened his fan base; years that could have built his alternative music career that would secure his future and effort on the walk of Nigeria hall of fame.
It was a bad idea to have his version of African Queen. It was a shitty version. It broke my heart. What is he doing? I screamed at the radio. He struggled through that song; for what? To prove a point that he is the original owner? Why? How necessary was that?
Then his constant animosity towards anything that had 2face’s name on it. The constant cyber resentment and mental stalking. The lawsuit threats. The long instagram posts. The ridicule. The back-and-forth accusations. Phew! Should anything be this serious? Should anyone be so consistent in their desire to prove spite?
My theory is: Blackface has used up all his energy and creativity stalking 2face’s career, he has nothing left to build personal happiness or success. His is an empty heart that cannot make good music. Not anymore. Multitasking is a tough job. What they say about successful people is true: you do one thing and do it well. Blackface does one thing and he does it quite well – on this throne of bitterness, he is king.
He could have been so much more as an artiste who had something beautiful to give, but he chose a path; and when his name comes up, you don’t think of music as much as you think of acrimony and venom.
It hurts, really. I was certain I would have been a stan of his work if he had chosen his music instead. But he chose hate. It is a terrible waste of a great artiste.
Joy Isi Bewaji is the Managing Editor/Director of Happenings Media: Happenings Magazine (www.happenings.com.ng); and Happenings Radio (www.radio.happenings.com.ng); email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This post was first published in Daily Independent