Known until the mid-2010s as 2face Idibia, Nigerian singer, songwriter, and producer 2baba established himself as one of Africa's most prominent and successful Afro-pop stars. His career began in Lagos in the late '90s as a member of the popular hip-hop/R&B trio, Plantashun Boiz alongside bandmates Faze and Blackface Naija. Following the band's breakup, 2face launched a solo career and made his name throughout Africa and parts of Europe with albums like 2004's Face 2 Face — which contained the international hit "African Queen" — and 2006's award-winning Grass 2 Grace which blended elements of West African folk with R&B and rap. He maintained a popular performer into the 2010s, starting his own company, Hypertek Entertainment, and collaborating with a wide variety of artists from R. Kelly to Machel Montano. He also became active in philanthropy, serving as an ambassador to the Red Cross and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. After changing his name to 2baba in 2014, he continued his charity work partnering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and eventually returned to recording in 2020 with Warriors, his first release under his new name.
Born in the city of Jos, Nigeria, Innocent Ujah Idibia studied business administration and management in college while making money on the side singing and writing jingles and performing at local shows and parties. He eventually left school to pursue music instead, heading to the Nigerian capital, Lagos, and adopting the stage name, 2face Idibia in 1996. In Lagos, he began performing with rapper Blackface Naija and singer Faze, together forming the trio Plantashun Boiz. The group's hip-hop and R&B blend found traction and they released a pair of popular albums, 2000's Body and Soul and 2003's Sold Out, for the Afro-pop label Dove Records. Wanting to pursue a solo career, 2face left in 2004, effectively breaking up the band and causing a rift with his former bandmates that became known as the "Faze vs. Tuface" beef. Led by the hit song "African Queen," 2face's 2004 debut, Face 2 Face, caught on in western and southern Africa, and Europe as well, greatly expanding his popularity. His 2006 follow-up, Grass 2 Grace, was similarly received and yielded hits like "True Love" and "For Instance," as well as a MOBO Award. That same year, "African Queen" was used in the American comedy film Phat Girlz and received an international release. In 2007, Plantashun Boiz resolved their differences long enough to record a third and final album, Plan B, before going their separate ways again.
Having left the Kennis label, 2face founded his own company, Hypertek Entertainment, to release 2009's guest-heavy The Unstoppable, which featured contributions from Sound Sultan and R. Kelly, among others. An expanded version of the album called The Unstoppable International Edition appeared the following year, netting the singer several awards including a SoundCity Music Video Award and two MTV Africa Music Awards. His high visibility throughout Africa led to brand ambassador endorsements from companies like Guinness and Nigerian Breweries, and he also ventured into charity work, becoming the ambassador to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, and released a single, "Man Unkind," calling out fake and poor-quality food and drug products in Nigeria. He also received praise and awards from the country's National Youth Council.
2face released two more albums in the coming years, 2012's Away and Beyond and 2014's The Ascension, the latter another guest-heavy outing featuring Vector, Dammy Krane, Machel Montano, and many more. Later in 2014, he began using the name 2baba and the following year celebrated his 40th birthday with a star-studded FORTYfied tribute concert in Lagos with performances by artists like Wizkid, Burna Boy, Timaya, and D'banj. He also continued his philanthropic work, partnering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2017. Finally, in 2020, six years after his previous release, he issued Warriors, his first album under the 2baba name. ~ Timothy Monger