There are those who hold the view that 2018 was a tricky year for Nigerian music, and not without good reason. Away from token awards, repetitive airplay and overpriced concert tickets, a good number of tracks churned out by Nigerian artistes were bedeviled by an apparent lack of replay value. A popular music promoter once made an Instagram post opining that most of today’s songs tend to lose their listenability after a period of one month, and to a large extent, it’s difficult to fault that assertion.
Consistency is not a strong point of many music makers in these parts, and if they were honest enough, they would admit that less than half of their creative product resonates beyond one quarter in a calendar year. There are never-ending debates on the emphasis of sound production over lyrical content, and the pressure to put out a nightclub-worthy jam is a reality, but longevity of music is a real problem around here, and sadly so.
Well, not for Innocent “2baba” Idibia (or Tuface, take your pick), at least not when the numbers raked up over the years are taken into consideration. The bald-headed “African Queen” crooner, who has followed up the fame achieved as one-third of the Plantashun Boiz trio with a stellar solo career, is known for his uber-impressive music catalogue. From the socially conscious “E Be Like Say” to the head bopping “Implication”, from the mellow “Spiritual Healing” to the confessional “Raindrops”, the multiple award-winning singer has topped charts with the frequency of chewing rice spoonfuls, and times were when all that was needed to make a song listenable was to have him hand in a verse (ask Jim Iyke). Some music enthusiasts have argued that 2baba’s craft has suffered diminishing returns for more than half a decade, but “Holy Holy” and “Amaka” (which was pretty much the national anthem in 2018) show that the father of seven isn’t quite done with this thing called Music.
“Oyi”, published on the singer’s Youtube page on the first day of 2019, is a track that treats music consumers to a listening time of 3.42. With a video set on one of Lagos’ private beaches and directed by Unlimited L.A., the song begins with lyrics in the lines of “help me spread this message like Globacom/make nobody dey come here dey come dey form/I know say nor be everybody follow come/and nor be every breat wey be Silicon”, before launching into an admonition of sorts bordering on living a simple life, drinking water and minding one’s business, all that stuff. The third verse involves vocal contributions from Hi-Idibia (whose voice is curiously similar to that of 2baba’s), with no significant tweaks in the rhythm of the track.
The visuals see Instagram comedian Brodashaggi dancing a variant of zanku on the sand, while a lady draped in a yellow kimono hops into a Safari Jeep driven by the self-acclaimed Bad Sharp Guy. It’s the vintage Unlimited L.A. video, three scenes, few cuts, lots of zooming in on the dance moves.
It usually takes a few weeks to ring in the first mega-hit in a particular year, so it would be unfair to expect too much from “Oyi”. There isn’t anything particularly gripping or soul wrenching about this one, but much is made about beginning the new year with positive vibes, and if you subscribe to that school of thought, then this song is a whole mood. It combines the tone of “Only Me” with the feel-good flavour of “Coded Things”, and talk of award nominations would be very premature, but expect club and lounge DJs to pick this up. In any case, we would still listen even if all there was to the track was the sound of him coughing into a microphone, it’s 2baba after all.
(Meanwhile, you can watch ‘Oyi’ here )