Crooning about criticism, sharing footage of Lagos state history and freestyling with his friends, 2baba is smart, sharp and happy.
2baba was headlining this concert, and he had the support of a long cast of friends, family and mentees. Having spent over two decades at the zenith of the Nigerian music industry, it’s only normal that your network and relevance reflect in your art. Especially if it is a live experience.
It’s been an interesting year for 2baba. The singer recently capitalised on the ‘Pon pon’ wave to score a pop record with producer Dapiano, titled ‘Gaga Shuffle’. The song has kept him open to younger audiences, and continued what has been a lifetime of relevance and achievement.
Prior to that, his core base had connected to a speculative release, ‘Holy Holy’, which fed the conscious crowd with something of note. 2017 has been a great year for him, but it has also come with its trials. A failed public protest a government kept him in the firing line of the media and fans, while his credibility was tested to an extreme. Also, his home state, Benue, had been hit with heavy flooding, which created a humanitarian crisis.
But 2baba had responded via his 2baba Foundation, and provided relief with support from crowdsourced funds. This evening, the names of all the donors rolled on a main screen and thanks were offered to their kindness.
“No be small thing oh.”
This year’s edition of Buckwyld and Breathless was themed “The Lagos Dream.” It was a live ode to the city that has been beneficial to Nigeria, and its inhabitants. The city is favoured for its acceptance to migrants from all over the world, who arrive seeking to make sense of life, find themselves and achieve. Mini-documentaries about the city were played to the crowd, and host Andre Blaze, did his best to mix humour with fact, by creating an entertaining narrative. At one point, he brought in a Ray-J and Kim Kardashian reference, while shading Abuja, the Federal Capital territory of Nigeria for their arrogance. Lagos is Nigeria’s de facto capital and this was a night to appreciate that.
Music has always been embedded in the fabric of Lagos. The city acts as the hub for African music, and through the years, it has groomed, honed, produced and exported talents to distant shores. Some of those talents were celebrated via live music. A selected number of legends were honoured with performances by the opening acts. Fela Anikulakpo Kuti was praised by singer Joe El, who carried the classic, ‘Water no get enemy’, on his lean shoulders. Christy Essien-Igbokwe’s ‘Seun rere’ made the crowd weak with nostalgia, Acetune showed respect to Mike Okri, Kelly Hansome was Oliver de Coque’s embodiment, and the most emotional performance was by Mr 2kay, who brought back Cardinal Jim Rex Lawson with a moving performance of his classic ‘So Ala temen’.
Tiwa Savage and Flavour, co-headlining acts were in fine form. The singers came through with their extensive catalogues of hits, backed by dancers from DNMT crew. Aside from the sets, they offered a lot more to excite the audience. Tiwa had three costume changes, and introduced Kaffy’s little son as a ‘Dancer of Honour’. Flavour brought a masquerade for his performance of ‘Ogene’. It was a charming mass of bodies and colour, moving according to a script and pushing the crowd past various levels of excitement.
For 2baba, it had to be special. DJ Jimmy Jatt and Ellajoe re-enacted the classic Lagos anthem ‘Stylee’ before he launched into a medley. There are many faces to 2face when he gets onstage. I have seen the rambling 2face Idibia who just had the knowledge to share. I have witnessed the emotional 2baba cry in front of an audience. I tasted his anger burning from the mic. And today, I saw his underlying happiness. His concert has been a success, his family had front row seats to watch him earn his living and provide for them.
His friends were in the crowd, and his fans had paid top Naira to see him deliver his art. This is his dream come true. Every artist prays for a day like this were family, art, passion, friends and status overlap to create a thing of beauty. This was 2baba’s thing of beauty, and you could feel it all over the venue.
Switching between thoughtful lyrical precision, to a goofy streak of entertainment, everything he does is packed with lines. He composed right on stage for us all, soaking the adoration and returning it back as art. It was all give-and-take relationship, and we all benefited. We took the art. He got the money. Happiness, everyone?
An interesting part of the concert was when he had to change out of a jacket. “That guy talk say ‘mans not hot,” he said, referring to Big Shaq, the viral sensation who impacted a Nigerian audience. “But man is hot. Make I go comot this thing,” He continued.
As he stepped off stage, it got to me. Whether he takes off a jacket, his skin, his bones, and expose his soul to the North Pole, 2face Idibia is hot, and will always be hot.