West African Reggae, R&B and traditional African artist Innocent Ujah “2Face” Idibia is nominated for another BET Award in the Best International Artist category. The Nigerian-born (Otukpo Benue State) singer who has a sound that is both “spiritual and eclectic” stops by rolling out’s Atlanta headquarters to talk about musical icons, his inspiration and drops a new phrase on us: “No shaking,” which in Lil Wayne and French Montana’s dictionary is “he ain’t go no worries.”
He’s no stranger to mulitplatinum artists in the U.S. or abroad. He’s collaborated with Wyclef Jean, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Kelly Rowland and T-Pain. His single, “African Queen” was the first single ever aired on MTV Base, he’s received numerous awards from Afro Nollywood and MTV, and his first BET for “International Artist” in 2011.
Read what 2Face has to say.
Where do you find inspiration?
Sometimes the music just comes … it is based on reality.
Did you expect for your single “African Queen” to be such a big hit, a global anthem?
You know when you record a song in the studio, you have this expectation or anticipation that your song will grow, but I didn’t expect it to [blow up] so fast.
How do you feel being a solo artist?
Decision-making is easier now. When I was in a group, we had to agree do disagree. Apart from that everything is the same; the hard work is the same.
How do you balance music and business?
The music is the business. I have a manager and a couple of people who help me. Anything you want to do, if you dedicate your time to it, you can do it. Music is my fulltime business.
How is the musical landscape in Nigeria and Liberia different than the U.S.?
It’s definitely different. It’s not easy doing music where I am from. The structure is not proper yet. It’s coming up really strong from where I started. There was piracy and payment of royalties was a war. People are now studying entertainment law and managing artists.
Tell us about your fashion sense.
I like to be plain and simple. Anything I think fits me; I wear. I try to look sharp. What makes me ‘me’ is being me.
How did you come up with the name 2Face?
There are two sides of me. I might be a gangster in a video or a churchgoer. I wanted to have a name that differentiates me from my art. For people to really know me, they will have to get to know me.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Bob Marley, Féla Anikulapo Kuti and Michael Jackson
How did you get your start as an artist and become recognized internationally? Was it via social media and the web?
No. There were one or two people who saw my work. A friend played it for a friend. The Internet wasn’t as crazy as it is now.
Photo credit: Yinka Obebe, et. al.