Interview: 2Face Idibia and Wizkid – A meeting of two titans
Eyes shaded by Ray Bans from the blinding sun, Nigerian crooner 2Face Idibia (aka Tu-baba) reclines poolside at a Sandton hotel in Johannesburg as he waits for fellow musician Wizkid.
The two were brought together by Cognac brand Hennessy, whose ‘artistry’ campaign uses mixology as a metaphor to blend the talents of different generations and styles of artists.
Both 2Face and Wizkid’s credentials are extraordinary and it is easy to see why they were chosen. On the strength of just one album, a slew of heavyweight collaborations, a Best African Act MOBO trophy and a BET award, Wizkid sold out his headlining performance at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in 2012.
2Face’s break-out classic hit ‘African Queen’ – which became a ubiquitous wedding song in Africa – in 2004 saw him become one of Nigeria’s most acclaimed performers.
‘Dance Go (Eau de Vie),’ the song born of the Hennessy partnership in October 2014, is on Tu-baba’s current album Face 2 Face 10.0, named for his decade-long solo success. Retaining the top spot on iTunes Nigeria for months proved that the legend in the making is one of Nigeria’s most bankable stars.
‘Dance Go (Eau de Vie)’ is an uptempo club number with a heavy South African house music feel to it. To hear Wizkid tell it, this is in tune with the times. “I like the way house music is produced,” he says. “Out of Africa, house music artists are the ones who are most likely to cross over internationally. There are still very few African artists who can do that.”
A wave of pan-African musical exchanges is in full swing, transcending regions and even the continent. High-profile artists from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and the DRC are coming together to make hits that resonate on the airwaves and in clubs at home as well as on the fast-growing Afrobeats circuit in the diaspora. This ongoing development on the global music scene started with artists like 2Face.
That is not to say that Wizkid, a man with his eye on the international prize, has his eggs in a single genre basket.
He is working with global stars, having signed a management deal in 2012 with Disturbing London, which represents Tinie Tempah and Jessie J.
His forthcoming song with Chris Brown awaits its official release. “We were supposed to shoot the video in LA. But the song is called ‘African Bad Girl,’ so I would love it if Chris would come and shoot the video in Lagos. That’s what I’m trying to make happen.”