Most of us almost ran out of patience while waiting
endlessly for another 2face Idibia album and now, the ‘less talked about’ album is out. There was not much hype and expectation befitting of 2baba’s status, adding to the fact that he was not able to come up with a popular single. The duet with Bridget Kelly and Machel Montano tried to pull the stunt to no avail. Released under Hypertek Digital and 960 Music Group, here is an in-depth review of the 17 track
album by Nigeria’s finest 2face Ujah Idibia. As a loyal
2face fan, I would try as much as possible to be objective in the assessment of this album.
How 2face and his advisers arrived at Ascension is
unclear to me. For Ascension is the process of an upward movement. Perhaps, 2baba still has somewhere higher to be after christening his last album Away and Beyond.
Just like the album title, this album picture is similar to
the picture used on his last album Away and Beyond. In fact, one might think both pictures were taken on the same day. The difference is that in the previous album, he buried both hands in his tuxedo, but on the Ascension album, he decided to leave one out and throw it in the air to make a salute to his fans. He also decides to look up straight in Ascension rather than sideways in Away and Beyond. Also on the front cover is a faded picture of an old-school unknown car, perhaps, his vehicle to make the upward movement. On the album design, it is one of the pros of the album; the album cover looks beautiful on the front and back.
The design is impressive and completely banishes the ugly album covers churned out for 2face under Kennis Music.
The tracks are well listed in a simple layout as well as
nice choice of colours. The logo of Hypertek Digital and 960 Music Group also sits beautifully at the bottom right corner of the back cover. But the cons of this design is that, the list of producers and sound engineers are not linked to the tracks they worked on, which makes it hard to pin point who produced what track. In this age where intellectual property is significant in the growth of the music industry, I never expected to meet this error and it has also made my job harder when it comes to ascribing praise or blame. Who gets the blame for that? I’ll blame 960 Music Group.
PRODUCTION/MIXING AND MASTERING
Gone are those days when J.Sleek held the monopoly over 2face’s album, things have really changed now. Although it appears a discord exists between both, that explains why both of them don’t work like they used to (This is a topic for another day). Femi Ojetunde makes a comeback on Ascension, alongside Jay Sleek, Leriq and others, while Foster Zeeno leads the pack of mastering engineers.
Like I stated earlier, Producers and engineers are not
properly credited with their works. Thus any individual
assessment is almost impossible.
With all due respect to the talents that worked on this
album, I still don’t understand why 2baba can’t employ the services of top producers like Don Jazzy and Cobhams.
These guys are Africa’s best music producers with
impressive resume and experience required to add a
perfect and unique style to the 2face brand.
They also have the real music qualities to help bring out the best of 2face Idibia and help write songs just like OJB Jezreel did back in the days. All the same, I still hail 2baba for working with Masterkraft and Leriq, two of the best ‘new generation’ producers, but the fact is both have produced far better beats than they delivered on this album. Listen to Masterkraft’s beats for Banky, EME, Timaya and co and check what Leriq did with Burna Boy, then you’ll understand my point.
Likewise the mixing and mastering, it could have been
better. An artist like 2face Idibia who is regarded as the leading artist in Nigeria should offer his fans the best of the best sounds. A minor blemish on the mixing of this album appears on track 4 which features Vector. It appears that Vector’s part was not properly mixed in the studio. How this was not noticed before the album was released is unclear to me. Apart from that, the rest sounds good.
2face Idibia has won a lot of fans with his afro-pop/reggae style over the years, but it appears there is a deliberate ‘upward movement’ towards other genre. Ascension contains songs with less 2face reggae style, but rather, he toed the path of Caribbean soca, afro beat and high life.
While this can’t be counted as a success yet, 2face did
well in the fusion. Some fans might be disappointed for not having much of the ‘traditional’ 2baba style but their love for the musician will override.
I have never known 2face to be the type that struggles
with lyrics, but in this album, 2face obviously searched words to fill up some tracks. We all know 2face has his flaws as a musician, just like every individual, but Kennis Music had a way of concealing his weaknesses, which somehow shows again on this album.
TRACK BY TRACK ANALYSIS
1. Go ft Machel : This is the second single from the album, this song was expected to raise the awareness of the coming album and give the waiting fans something to cheer about. An up tempo dance track for the club. 2face with help from Machel Montano, a super star soca musician from Trinidad & Tobago, deliver this nice music.
2. #Aproko : Hashtag aproko is the track dedicated to
gossipers and busy bodies, like Linda Ikeji.
3. Holiday: Holiday is another tracks that’s just there,
nothing much to talk about it.
4. Can’t Hear You ft Vector: This is one of the few tracks that got 2baba spitting his mind. Vector in usual way, dropped his lyrics in a metaphoric fashion. Vector tried unsuccessfully, to replicate his performance in Banky W’s ‘Africa and proud’, but this is a dissimilar terrain, and the mixing of his voice didn’t help either. I won’t be surprised if Vector signs for Hypertek Digital. He seems to have a good bond with 2face and I will advise both parties to work
towards making something happen. It will be mutually
5. The Best I can Be ft Rock Steady and Ice berg slim: This could have been the best track in the Ascension album but for the laziness and poor lines of Rock Steady. Ice berg slim is superb with his lines. I’ll advice he (Ice berg Slim) ride on this and ‘re-launch’ his career that has somehow failed to begin.
6. Let Somebody Love You ft Bridget Kelly: This is the first single from the album and happens to be the best song in the album.
7. Kiss of Life : Kinda sounds like Rainbow, but it’s cool
though, a Tiwa Savage would have made the song better.
8. I Hate What You Do To Me: This song is somehow
needless. Ascension without this track could have even made the album better. The first four lines are not expected from a musician of 2face’s status. “We arrange the place and then we scatter it again” No 2face… ‘I never experrerit.’
9. Confessions ft Rocksteady and Dammy krane: Probably the worst track in the album. When the track starts you might think it’s a track from the days of Daniel Wilson and Blacky. Dammy Krane did his best and Rocksteady, lazy as usual. His stay on Hypertek Digital seems to be more of a friendship obligation on the part of 2face than a professional relationship. Rocksteady is a shadow of himself. You hear Rocksteady on the ascension album and you are like, is this the same Rocksteady of Trybunal days with blackface? I think a Sound Sultan or Burna Boy would
have done better on this track. Lest I forget, the beat
10. Close to Where You Are: Akon Style rnb, it’s just there. No artiste does this style anymore; I just don’t understand why 2baba would record this song in 2014.
11. International Loving ft Kim Almarcha: One of the best tracks of the album. 2baba features Kim Almarcha, a French singer. This one is for the club.
12. Bourlay Bourlay ft Shurwayne: Featuring another Soca singer from Trinidad & Tobago.
13. Diaspora woman ft Fally Ipupa: Another attempt to
diversify the style of his album leads Tubaba to Fally
Ipupa, this makossa song sounds good and it’s a song for the clubs. I expected more from two superstars of African music.
14. Jeje : Jeje is an afro beat that brings back the
memories of Fela Kuti. A street anthem, this is surely
gonna be the biggest song in the album. The only track I have played more than 20 times. What I love most about this song is the Fela-style-female backup singers. I give him high five for this.
15. Lesse Passe ft Sir Victor Uwaifo: 2face teams up with elderly highlife veteran and label mate, Sir Victor Uwaifo to deliver this highlife genre. The song make sense and will be good for all age groups. Sir Victor blended well too.
16. Ife Dinma ft Tony Week: It’s like 2face is fast gaining reputation for making attempts to resuscitate fellow musicians’ career. Featuring Terry Tha Rapman in his last album surprised a lot of people, and here he comes again featuring Tony One week in another highlife/dance music produced by Masterkraft. With all due respect to Tony One Week, I believe featuring Flavour Nabania, Timaya or Phyno instead would have been better and given the song a wider outreach. However, Tony one week proved critics like me
wrong and gave the music a gyration feeling. The track is not bad.
17. Not a Surprise : The last track on the album is a typical 2face style music, reggae and street music. This is surely gonna be a hit track. 2face on his usual motivational self delivers this amazing short track directly from his heart.
From afro beat, afro-pop, rnb, soca to highlife and reggae, 2face Idibia has delivered his 6th studio album. This is no mean feat; so he deserves all the applause and support.
After paying $9.99 to purchase the album on iTunes, I can’t really say I am satisfied or disappointed. All I know is that the album is below par. His foray into other genre and international outlook seems to be his priority, which somehow brings something new to the industry. But there’s no cause for alarm, 2face is the only one that can get away with such ‘musical experiments’.
Another observation is that 2face’s best songs have come from his true feelings and life stories, when he sings from the heart- he sings perfectly. This explains how he struggled with words in track 8 ‘I Hate What You Do To Me’. After getting married to his long time lover, Annie Macaulay (who inspired many songs in the past) I was hoping for a song detailing how sweet and interesting his marriage to her has been.
Moreover, I was also expecting a track in the mould of ‘E Be Like Say’ or ‘4 Instance’, due to the current challenges facing us in Nigeria. Recently, 2face Idibia has been lending support to calls for better living conditions and he arranged an all star collabo on the missing girls. How he missed this historic opportunity to become a vibrant voice, at a defining moment in our nation’s history is unclear to me.
Music, they say, is the opium of the masses.
How this album will fare commercially is yet to be known. However, a massive marketing strategy could do the magic and perhaps, an international release on a later date might boost album sales.
Finally, like 2face Idibia’s post-Kennis Music albums,
there’s the probability that you might not feel it at first, for it takes time to get into a listener’s system, which leaves his true fans with the patience to keep the tracks on replay. At this time of many skelewus and dorobuccis, it remains to be seen how the album will appeal to local fans. I’ll suggest you grab a copy of the album, just don’t expect to come across evergreen songs like ‘Higher – Spiritual Healing’, ‘Rain Drops’ or highly inspiring music like ‘Dance in the Rain’ and ‘Only you’.
Lanre Etti Jr