We Plug To You... 2Face Idibia - Away & Beyond
Reviewed by Nee Fe Mi
This is a first for us here at WE PLUG. Today I have the ultimate pleasure of reviewing the album of a living legend and I honestly don't even feel I am worthy of it. This is why it has taken me two weeks to post this up but I think I have conquered my fear enough and without further ado, I would like to present to you the legendary 2Face Idibia with his fifth studio album - Away & Beyond.
Yes, you read that right, this is 2face Idibia's fifth studio album, remember I said this was a first? As you well know, what we typically do here is to showcase up and coming artists. So why are we doing this? For one, this is the best album out of Nigeria this year thus far and secondly, since a lot of you readers are not from Nigeria, this will serve as an introduction to 2Face Idibia for many of you. Lastly, because it is only right that we appreciate such a phenomenal artist while he is alive and still doing his thing. I am 25 years old and I have been listening to 2Face since I was in High School and no, I am not trying to call him old, I am just acknowledging the fact that he has been putting in work since he was just a young man himself. Lets share a bit of background on Mr. Idibia, shall we?
2Face - sometimes spelt as TuFace - started his musical journey with friends Blackface and Fazee way back in 1997 as the now defunct R & B group Plantashun Boiz. They released their debut album Body and Soul in 2000 with a sophomore album Sold Out coming three years later. The group split in 2004 when lead singer 2Face decided to embark on a solo career. He released his solo album that same year and the rest - as they say - is history.
Since then, 2baba as he is also popularly known has been a force in not only the Nigerian music landscape but also across Africa and we are now seeing him begin to get international recognition. He is the most awarded/honored Nigerian artist of our time but possibly due to a very quiet nature, a somewhat sordid personal life and, dare I say, the lack of a great team supporting him, I still believe he is not given the respect and due owed him. He still manages to shine however, putting out an album without any noticeable PR/marketing and still have it be the most talked about album in the last two weeks. I have not read or heard one bad thing about Away and Beyond. But why don't I let you listen for yourself?
We have to start from the very first song on the album and that's "Higher (Spiritual Healing)" which kicks off with some lovely Punjabi drum patterns and harmonies that capture your attention immediately. He talks about freedom, over coming life's personal mountains, righteousness, forgiveness and love all on this song. If you must know one thing about 2Face, it is that he is very passionate about his country and about being the person you can be despite it all. You will never hear him talking about "beef" and/or undermining anyone. In more ways than one, you could call him the perfect role model. He rides the heavy drum-backed milieu and Reggae-influenced groove o so well on this song and it makes for a great opener that you're eagerly looking forward to the rest of the album after listening to "Higher (Spiritual Healing)"...
15/10 - that's how I'd rate the production on the song you just heard which is titled "Omo T'osan". I love the synth arrangements, drum machine and ethereal back drop that you hear all through this song. This is honestly like nothing I have ever heard from any artist out of Nigeria and it is exactly what impressed me the most about this album. 2Face went beyond and stretched himself sonically and still did well to retain his sound, his "Africanism", if you will, without compromising the international appeal of this album. This album is largely a Soul album and this song is as soulful as they come and on this, he is just talking to the girl of his fantasy.
I'm deliberately skipping a favourite song of mine "Bother You" which features Nigerian rapper Terry The Rapman so that you might hear the range of sounds that 2face encompasses on this Away & Beyond album. The song you've just heard is called "Spell Bound", forget the subject of the song which is again a woman (he sure does love his women) and focus on that sound for a second - a perfect mix of Reggae, Hip Hop and Soul. This song could be played in any country anywhere on this earth and it will certainly get people vibing and just to show how diverse he is, on the very next song "Steady Steady", you hear a perfect mix of Electronic and Afrobeats music. I know you have to listen to this yourself to believe what I'm trying to tell you and because words do not adequately express the brilliance you hear on both songs, I think I'm just going to let you listen for yourself...
I'll skip another lovely song in "Dance In The Rain" which is your trademark uptempo soulful song with kick ass drum arrangements upon which he encourages you again to stay positive, leave all your worries behind, appreciate the flowers and the wonder that is the world we live in. On the next track "In Your Eyes", you hear a beautifully melodious piano backdrop, upon which 2Face is probably the most soulful you will ever hear him and when the drums and shekere (listen carefully) are excellently introduced, you will almost go mental. If you still don't agree that this is probably the most brilliant artist we have in Nigeria, you have to listen to him on "Freedom Is Life" as he goes straight "Hip-Hop" over this insane drum pattern and still speak his native tongue...
At this point, I really want to share the entire album with you but you need to go buy the album and this goes without saying because this will be a classic album, mark my words. You will bring out this album 10 years from now and vibe to it still. You will want to play the next track "Rainbow" and reminisce on an old flame or when you had to beg your current partner to come back to you and promise him/her all your love; you will want to play "Dance Floor" and try not to hurt yourself when you get up to dance like you did years back. But before I go, let me share this last one with you.
That was "Keep On Pushing" and I have nothing to add except for you to stop reading right now enough to dance to this jam, buy the album, come back and finish reading. 2Face ends the Away & Beyond on a high note too - following the energetic "Keep On Pushing" with "Ihe Neme" which is probably my personal favourite on the album, "O.N.D (Omo No Dulling)" which features new Nigerian rapper Dammy Krane, "Bad Man, Bad Girl" which features emerging R&B singer Becca and the album's last track "Chemical Reaction" which features another popular Nigerian artist in Naeto C - ending this excellent album with songs that make you move.
That's it guys, a whole lot of grandiose words, just to tell you to go buy this album. 2Face Idibia outdoes himself on Away & Beyond and surpasses what I thought was a great album in 2010's The Unstoppable to deliver this amazing new album. With stellar production and a huge versatility of sounds, topping this album will be a task that many artists will fail at this year. As it should be!
Till Next Time,
Peace, Love and Good Music