When you think up the name Blackface, what’s the basic image that comes up to you? Is it the image of a washed-up veteran of the game who is now known for his bitterness? Does your mind conjure a picture of a bitter ‘has-been’, who simply scores cheap points by attacking a successful old colleague?
If this is the result that you get for this, then congratulations, you are not alone. You are simply processing information like a normal human being would. For many years, Blackface has repeatedly gone tough on 2face Idibia. From drawn-out copyright claims to disregarding his every effort, the public has had to learn and process all of the bile that comes from Blackface to 2face.
On the surface, this appears to be basic hate. A normal person would interpret all of Blackface’s effort as malicious ‘hate’. You would be abnormal not to. The facts are clear: 2face Idibia is a very successful musician, perhaps the most successful pop artist Nigeria has ever had. He sits just a level below Fela Kuti in mass adoration, and honestly, can never do a wrong.
Blackface, on the other hand, isn’t as successful. His talent as a songwriter is evident in his works, and at one point, he had a good run. But he is nowhere near 2face Idibia in pop acceptance, achievements and impact. That’s why he appears bitter. On a basic level, he is hating on his estranged colleague who is more successful than he is.
Every time he raises an issue with 2face Idibia, the comment section is flooded with reciprocate bile from the public. And the general opinion is: “Blackface is a hater.”
But in reality, Blackface has valid reasons to feel this way, or at least he thinks he does. Back before Plantashun Boiz, Blackface met 2face Idibia in a secondary school in Benue and invested himself in him. Faze would later join them, but he kept the group together and managed them to stardom. They shared dreams, performed around the country, collected N10,000 for many shows, and bonded like brothers.
But 2face split. After pushing the boundaries of artistry as a group, Blackface sought to consolidate their status in Nigeria, and go beyond Africa. They had meetings with moguls Obi Asika and Olisa Adibua, who were creating Storm Records, to sign a better deal for the group. But that fell through because 2face Idibia pulled out, and transferred his artistry to Keke Ogungbe’s Kennis Music.
“We already had a plan, but 2face wanted to do something different,” Blackface said on Loose Talk podcast. “I and Faze were surprised. ‘How come you saying that now’. Olisa told me we were going to do something different, that it wasn’t about Nigeria this time, that he was taking Plantashun Boiz to the next level, which is out of the shores of Nigeria, Africa.”
Betrayal hurts. It hurts deeper than any pain you can imagine. To be stabbed in the back at that level is one of the most harrowing experiences of life. And frankly, Blackface has not moved on. When he picked the pieces of his career and went solo, he was faced with a reality where 2face Idibia became famous with ‘African Queen’ – a record he contributed to in Plantashun Boiz.
That was the genesis of the ‘hate’. Think about life from Blackface’s view. You found a guy, nurtured him, grew together, and then he stabs you in the back, right at the hour of a major breakthrough. Few people would come back from that. He loved 2face Idibia like a brother, but that died with that betrayal.
And then in 2015, 2face Idibia returned with a single, ‘Let somebody love you’, which was the lead record off his flopped “Ascension” album. The single which featured Bridget Kelly reopened a new wound because, according to Blackface, he wrote that song.
“Why didn’t they deem it fit to call me?” Blackface asked, his pain visible in the recorded clip. “Is it because he has a lawyer who thinks he is smart and he can get away with anything?”
Blackface might come across as a hater, but his story does possess a degree of justification. He believes 2face Idibia robbed him, and you never forgive a robber.
Perhaps it’s time for him to let him go. He could choose to move past it all, and forge ahead, rather than dwell on it. Maybe the next time someone puts a mic in his hand and ask him about 2face, he could simply say “I don’t want to talk about it. I have moved on.” That would be a step in the right direction.
But it’s easier said than done. It’s his personal choice to approach his issues publicly or privately. He has chosen the former, and no matter how crass and reviling it is to us, we should understand that he has the right to free speech. His image and reputation have suffered for his decision to be vocal. But that’s his cross to bear.
Ours is to understand, process his thought, and brand him with the bad names.