Decades after Innocent Idibia, the artiste now known as 2baba, launched a career that has registered him as one of the most iconic contemporary African artistes, fresh facts have emerged about how his journey started.
In an interview with eelive.ng, Edi Lawani, a renowned longstanding entertainment personality, revealed how he met Idibia and Blackface with whom he started the group Plantashun Boiz.
Lawani — who has been everything from entertainment journalist to artiste manager and stage manager — said he met Idibia and Blackface through Willy Walkman, an associate of his who has the same Benue state origin as the talented musicians.
The music administrator said he met the duo at a phase in his career when he dedicated his time to counselling budding artistes and providing a ladder for a number of those who needed a helping hand.
“It was on one of those occasions that we discovered The Plantashun Boiz,” the Edo-born impresario said.
“Because my office had become a Mecca of sorts for young artistes; a place where they had somebody who listened to them. Young artistes on the street who had nowhere to go will come and hang around at PMAN all day either looking for somebody to give them money or listen to their demos in cassette form.
“There were some that I would give money for a demo, some that I rented studios for and then my free Thursday clinic where I counselled. So one day, Willie Walkman with whom I used to work and is from Benue state came to my office and said there were two guys who wanted to see me. I saw them, and they sang. I noticed they had potential and coordination. They sang an acappella and had good voice.
“So, I promised to look out for opportunities and let them know.”
The two guys were 2baba, then known as 2face, and his collaborator/friend, Blackface.
They would eventually introduce a third person to Lawani and it was agreed that he would be known as Faze.
Fortune smiled on the trio when not too long after this discussion, Lawani was invited to be part of a big music concert that had national scale and he got the organisers to sign the new group to open the shows ahead of the main acts that were already on the bill.
But finding the young men he met just a few weeks earlier turned out a bit of a task as even Walkman who introduced them could not immediately reach them.
Lawani recounted: “I remembered these two guys that were brought to me and started looking for them because they didn’t have a demo, but I wanted the team to hear their voices.
“I went to Willie to ask for them, but he had no idea how to reach them. Those days there were no mobile phones, but we learnt that they lived in Festac. I gave somebody money to go and look for them. They found them after three days and I brought them to the audition, and they did very well and were signed on as the sub-head headline acts.”
Plantashun Boiz did well at the nationwide tour and would go on to become one of the most phenomenal African groups of the last two decades before the band broke up in 2004.
Lawani expressed satisfaction with his behind-the scene role in the Nigerian entertainment industry, explaining that it gave him the best opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of selfless service to humanity.-