Ed. Note: One of the most popular artistes in the music industry, Tuface (Innocent Ujah Idibia) recently released the International edition of his Unstoppable album which is currently rocking the industry by storm. Despite prior accusations, confrontations and negativism, Tuface seems to have bounced right back on track. In this article, Eunice Nze looks into the journeys of the musician and how he manages to retain his magic with ardent fans.
Rise to Stardom
Tuface’s journey into the Nigerian music industry began with Plantation Boiz. Even at that early stage, people saw Plantation Boiz as a group of talented musicians. Tuface later left the group and signed on with Kennis Music, a move that saw him transported to the heights of his career at the time.
His pioneer solo album, Face 2 Face, was indeed a hit that Nigerians and Africans in general will not readily forget, with songs like African Queen, Keep On Rocking, U No Holy Pass, Nfana Ibanga and Ole, which were all well composed and delivered. The African Queen track in particular heightened his already fast rising image and saw him winning more fans as well as numerous prestigious awards including MTV Europe, Best Africa Male Act, in 2005.
Collaborations with foreign artistes like Beenie Man, Wyclef Jean, and Reggie also placed Tuface on a level far above his colleagues. His sophomore album, Grass to Grace, was an instant hit, a landmark achievement and a force that took him off from the platform of an upcoming artiste to that of an established performer. The album was a mixture of Calypso, Reggae, R&B, Rock and plain Hip-hop, spliced with rap by foreign artistes like Ghana ’s VIP. Indeed, the strength of that album lay in its variety and Tuface’s emotional rendition. Even though the artiste was already a force in the African music industry; withGrass 2 Grace, Tuface firmly wrote his name on the sands of time as one of the greatest musicians that Nigeria , and indeed Africa , had ever known.
The artiste’s most famous travails began in 2003. First, he was shot three times in his apartment, an ordeal he surprisingly survived. This particular event may have been the first indication that he possesses the proverbial nine lives. Similarly, Tuface survived repeated robbery attacks at different locations including one where he was shot in the thigh in the year 2007.
In the same 2007, the media crowded on him like ants on sugar following the reported cases of his several liaisons with women and the resulting pregnancies. A fan who simply identified himself as Jade told M2; “I once read one of the papers where he said he was only living up to expectations as an African man … I hope his new album is something to write home about else, I’ll just delete him from my list of No.1 Nigerian artistes.”
His claims to have done collaborations with some foreign artistes were also questioned. Despite all the pains, the multi-award winning artiste did not give up. He persevered and acted as though nothing was amiss.
But Tuface has proven he is not a quitter. He hit the microphone and came out with his Unstoppable album last year. Compared to the previous works, the album did not appear as successful, fuelling rumours from the public. Some said he had lost focus due to the baby mama dramas, some said his leaving Kennis was affecting his marketability, and others reasoned he was trying to change his style of music. Mr. Adekunle Ayeni of Nigerian Entertainment Today told M2, “I don’t think there is any problem. If you look at Tuface, you’ll see that he is moving his music into a much more mature level. … It will take a while for fans and the media to understand what he is trying to do. When you move from what is commercial to what is big and profound, there are chances that you’ll leave a lot of people behind.”
Concurring, the artiste’s manager, Mr. Efe Omorogbe of Now Muzik, asserts that the team has learnt a few things with the Unstoppable album, “but overall, a MAMA award for Best R&B, two SMVAs including Video of the Year, one African Music Awards (UK), multiple nominations from Channel O, Hip-hop World Awards, NMVA, and three other nominations can hardly be described as ‘not much impact.’ It’s the same album that we have secured international distribution for and received countless performance requests from all over the world. Maybe it did not meet the expectations of some people but I think its impact is there for all to see and measure.”
Tuface is again topping the charts and receiving accolades from all over. Only time will tell if the artiste is truly back on track.
Watch the official video of his new single 'Implication' below.