When 2Baba described himself as a “bad sharp guy” more than a decade ago, he was stating the obvious. With fame and riches and an abundance of talent, he was the biggest star to come from the African continent at the time. Now at the ripe old age of 45 and on his ninth album, 2Baba is STILL the man; which is was the theme of his newly released album “Warriors” appears to center around.
Apart from a few singles and guest appearances, the legendary 2Baba Idibia had not released a body of work since 2015. But after twenty years as the king of [modern] Nigerian music, he had earned the right to release new material whenever he chose to. 2019 was dedicated to the celebration of his two decades of being the best thing since ewa agoyin. However, like an apparition, the announcement of his 2020 offering appeared on social media with only a week’s notice. There was also a private listening party where attendees listened with earphones on. So it was with LeBron James’ level of anxiety did the nation (im)patiently wait for the release of Warriors.
In 13 compact tracks (including previously released singles Amaka, Important and Oyi), 2Baba showed why he simply still the baddest guy around. Contrary to what the album title and cover art suggested, this wasn’t a militant anthem calling for an uprising. (In 2017 2Baba organized a protest which was soon hijacked by different political interest groups leading him to cancel it.) Instead, Warriors is an album about veterans in a different kind of war.
The title track opens with 2Baba reflecting on the current wave of high flyers who probably regard old-timers like him as tired and ended. If that’s actually a thing then 2Baba must be the exception: he’s been around since 1999 and from what is evident today, still going strong.
Thematically it works as well: the very next track, We Must Groove, features Burna Boy– who many regard as the leader of the new school. On the ragga tinged track, 2Baba is on home territory as the sub-genre is his sweet spot. He nails it, as does Burna Boy. 2Baba has always maintained that he’s no activist, only a messenger to make people happy. He successfully bridged the gap between generations by featuring Burna Boy. And when he sings, “I don’t need to think too much, ‘cause thinking na problem…”, you know for sure that even the Greek philosopher Epicurus could not have put it better.
Warriors also features Symeca, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Olamide. Those last three have in recent times made it a point of duty to explore epicurean themes and they all stay on-brand on their respective features, Opo, Ginger and I Dey Hear Everything.
Kitty Kat on track 5 is this writer’s personal favorite: in addition to the sexual innuendos generously sprinkled on the catchy instrumental, it shows 2Baba’s bravery to go out on a limb at his age and family status. Perhaps, he has proved over the years that Innocent Idibia the married father of seven is separate from the sex symbol who women still openly fantasize about till date.
All in all, the album Warriors shows clearly an ageing superstar whose superstardom has not diminished one bit, and who can go toe-to-toe with any youngin’ on any stage- on any theme they decide to- and still come out tops. 2Baba is twenty years king and twenty years later, he is still the baddest guy you’ll ever come around.