As far as contemporary African music is concerned, Plateau State born Nigerian singer, songwriter, record producer and entrepreneur, Innocent Ujah Idibia, is nothing short of a living legend. In over two decades of his enviable music career which kicked off way back in 1994, 2Baba, who hails from Benue State, has consistently paved the way for other promising Nigerian artistes to succeed and make their mark on the international music scene.
In this editorial, we bring you 10 times 2Baba – the 42 year old Hypertek Digital boss and one of the most decorated and bankable African musicians of all time – has proved himself worthy of the legendary status which has long been accorded him, and rightfully so.
1. Before D’banj who won the award in 2007 and 2012, and Davido who took it home most recently in 2017 alongside the award for Best Worldwide Act (which Wizkid won the previous year) 2Baba was the very first person to win the highly coveted MTV EMA Best African Act.
The regional Best African Act category at the in MTV’s European awards ceremony celebrates African acts based on their performance in a given year. Way back in 2005, 2Baba edged out Zamajobe, Kaysha, 02, and Kleptomaniax to become the inaugural recipient of the award.
2. Off his debut album ‘Face 2 Face’, 2Baba’s phenomenal breakout single ‘African Queen’ made massive waves well beyond Nigerian and African shores, not only earning him a remarkable increase to his already formidable fanbase, but also bringing him unprecedented international recognition.
‘African Queen’ was such an international phenomenon that the song went on to be used in the soundtrack for the Hollywood movie ‘Phat Girlz’ way back in 2006, thereby further announcing the 2005 MTV EMA winner to the world.
3. In 2010, 2Baba released an international edition of his third studio album ‘The Unstoppable’ which he titled ‘The Unstoppable International Edition’. The release of this critically-acclaimed album made 2Baba the first Nigerian artist to have an appropriately priced international album.
‘The Unstoppable International Edition’ earned 2Baba two awards at the 2010 SoundCity Music Video Awards, the Channel O Music Video Awards’ Best African West award, and the MTV Africa Music Awards for Best Male and Artiste of the Year. The international album also won Album of the Year and Best R&B/Pop Album at the 2011 edition of the Headies.
4. Not up to two weeks after the official release of the 2Baba’s 2014 sixth studio album, ‘The Ascension’ – which featured Bridget Kelly, Machel Montano, Fally Ipupa, Kim Almarcha, Vector, Iceberg Slim and Hypertek’s Sir Victor Uwaifo, RockSteady and Dammy Krane – was released, the album made it to the prestigious Billboard Magazine’s Top Selling World Albums, holding down the number 12 spot.
That feat, the first ever for a Nigerian artiste, earned 2Baba (and Nigerian music in general) further global recognition.
5. Unlike many other Nigerian superstars who seem not to care very much about the social and political issues plaguing the nation, 2Baba has consistently used the platform of his stardom to advocate for positive change in the country.
Last year, 2Baba called on well meaning Nigerians to join his nationwide protest against the government to demand answers about the poor state of governance and the economy, before being allegedly threatened by some political bigwigs to call the protest off.
2Baba has also called the government out once more after his recent Soundcity MVP performance where he urged the authorities to take action and stop the killings of local farmers by herdsmen.
6. 2Baba’s humanitarian efforts have been beyond impressive. Last year, the industry veteran announced a partnership between his foundation and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to help the plight of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and donated 3.5 million naira to the project.
Prior to this, 2Baba commissioned project 14/14 which sought to raise 14 million naira in 14 days for IDPs. The proceeds from the crowd-funding initiative were donated to IDPs in Benue state. Subsequently, 2Baba released a song titled ‘Hold My Hand’ to mark World Refugee Day and pledged 60% of the proceeds from the song to the cause if IDPs.
7. In 2016, 2Baba who is the brand ambassador for Campari in Nigeria was hosted at the home of legendary inventor, Gaspare Campari, in Italy and thus became the first African musician to have visited the home of the Italian business tycoon.
By so doing, 2Baba joined the list of international celebrities such as Eva Mendez, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Milla Jovovich, Benicio Del Toro, Eva Green and Kate Hudson, who have either paid a visit to Campari’s home, or participated in signature Campari activities since the drink was first brewed in 1860.
8. Apart from being part of Sony’s pioneer all African music super group, One8, alongside seven other best-selling musicians across Africa and recording a single with R. Kelly titled ‘Hands Across the World’, 2Baba is the first non-Liberian to become an honorary member of the Liberian music society in recognition for his outstanding contribution to the growth of music in Africa.
9. To celebrate the living legend’s fortieth birthday anniversary and his unparalleled influence on the Nigeria music industry, the FORTYfied All-Star Tribute Concert (stylized as #FORTYfied) was organised in 2Baba’s honour.
The epic concert which held on September 20, 2015 at the Eko Hotels and Suites Convention Centre was hosted by ace Nigerian comedian, Basketmouth, sponsored by STAR LagerBeer, and featured scintillating performances from Nigeria’s favourite artistes such as Wizkid, Burna Boy, Timaya, D’banj, Sound Sultan, Patoranking, Vector tha Viper, Wande Coal and Seyi Shay.
10. With 6 uber-successful albums, a long string of mega smash hits, a series of exhilarating live concerts and performances across Nigerian borders and beyond, and tons of national, continental and intercontinental accolades to show for his hard work and excellence over the 23 long years that his spectacular music career has spanned, 2Baba is unarguably one of the most consistent musicians out of Africa.
If that isn’t legendary, we honestly do not know what is.