2Face Idibia's Sophomore Effort: Grass or Grace?

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lawyerchap007
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Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:57 pm

He’s back. Finally. But is he better? Or worse? That’s the question on everyone’s minds and lips since the launch of 2face Idibia’s sophomore album Grass 2 Grace, the eagerly awaited follow-up to his multi-million selling 2004 debut ‘Face 2 Face.’

Following up that monster debut was always going to be difficult (to understate a fact) given the unprecedented critical and commercial success Face 2 Face enjoyed within and outside Nigeria. Many a lesser artiste would have crumbled under the sheer pressure of anticipation, but 2Face knowing he had his work cut out for him took on the task head on, never minding the frenzy of expectation.

But from the first listen of Grass 2 Grace, it would seem that Tuface opted for a safe route. He went back to the proven formula that made him Nigeria’s biggest musical property; simple lyrics intricately strung together, catchy hooks that are bound to ensnare even the most disinterested listeners and get them singing along sooner or later, as well as relevant messages infused in a good number of the tracks; no pop corn lyrics this time around. The result is understandably somewhat formulaic, but it’s a formula that still works well for now.

This second album from 2Face is a genre-bending collection of R&B, Hip Hop, reggae and the now seemingly unavoidable Benue track. There is no way to definitively classify the album, as there are songs for all moods and people. But 2Face’s sparkling vocals are once again the magnetic force making the collection compulsive listening. Singing with passion he returns with that unmistakable accent and international musical flavor that propelled his debut album to multi-platinum status.

But on Grass 2 Grace, there appears to be a shift in focus, from building on the immense Nigerian fan base he garnered with the runaway success of Face 2 Face, to trying to sell 2Face to the wider world. This manifests in the music as a leaning towards artistic expressions that tend to demand compliments from the listener. For example, the certified club banger and lead single of the album, ‘For Instance’ is the lyrical equivalent of an Olympic gold medal-winning gymnastics routine, while the first song on the album, a reggae-esque mid-tempo jewel on which 2Face waxes philosophical (this world that we live in is one big mighty prison/we’re all on death row, we’re just passing, like a journey to wherever we go) contains some truly shocking adlibbing in which 2Face brutalizes his voice apparently to showcase his range and perhaps impress us. He succeeds brilliantly at both.

The album does suffer a bit from the lack of deep scientific reflection required to arrange the sequence of tracks in an album with the unenviable fate of being the follow up to the humongously successful Face 2 Face. They chose to lead off with One Love, a very strong track, make no mistake. But they reckoned without the fact that expectation was stacked so high that almost nothing was ever going to be good enough. Being reggae-infused, that track also sets the listener wondering if 2Face had suddenly gone Jah-man on us all in a bid to escape the pressure of anticipation. In the final analysis, it’s a weak opener because its not quintessential 2face and so it leaves the listener unsure of how to feel and ready to draw conclusions without even listening further.

The album should have led off with its lead single ‘For Instance.’ With its massive airplay and acceptance as a solid 2Face effort, it would have been the perfect track to proclaim ‘2Face is back.’ It should then have been followed by the glittering collaboration with Soul E, still fresh from his spectacular entry into the Nigerian music space. That is a song people will listen to with a very open mind because of Soul E’s presence, and it is a damn good song with a relevant message for our times.

At this point the listener is beginning to feel like, ’hey, this album ain’t half bad’ and then ‘I dey feel like’ comes along with its club-worthy beats and its comparative lyrics with their layers upon layers of meaning. This track showcases 2Face at his glowing best as he combines intriguing comparisons in his lyrics with that silky voice that we’ve all come to know and love. By the time we bring on No Shakin, another certified club banger, the listener is completely sold on the album. In my opinion this arrangement creates an infinitely more listenable album than the published arrangement.

At the risk of having a hit put out on me, I daresay that this album is easily the equal of his debut and, if anything, is more consistent throughout. Every track, ballad or banger, shines with talent both from the performer and his producers. The lure of a worldwide market is most probably responsible for the high technical standards of this album as none of the songs are under- or over-produced, which is more than can be said for Face 2 Face, though that is a story for another day.

The album closes on a high with ‘My Love’ a truly delicious hip-life collabo with the Ghanaian group VIP. Hip Life is a hybrid of Afro-American hip-hop and West African highlife. It is characterised by rapping over a 4/4 beat, however it differs from most traditional hip-hop with its melodic lead vocals, provided in this case by 2Face. With its running beats and sing-along tune, it is guaranteed party heat and is a spectacular way to round out a truly phenomenal follow-up to his debut.



Standout tracks on Grass 2 Grace include ‘One Love’ which I predict will end up on another Hollywood soundtrack (most likely to be a Spike Lee movie) like African Queen did, ‘I dey Feel Like’ in which 2Face shows he can add intellectual heft to his obvious command of lyrical imagery (I dey feel like Bill Clinton o/because you Tripp for me), ’For Instance’ the lead single, ‘My Love’ and ‘E be like say’ the collabos with VIP and Soul E. No Shakin, is probably the most club-worthy cut on the album and was tumultuously received at the Nite of the DJs held at the Vault during the holidays. There’s no filler on this album; every track is a glowing testament to talent and just like Face 2 Face, once it’s grown on you, there’s no need for the skip button as you’ll listen right through it. Many times.

As the album was only launched early in December of 2006, it’s early days yet for a definite pronouncement, so the jury’s still out. But I make bold to say that by February 2007, the clubs will be burning to the sounds of Grass 2 Grace’s many club cuts and everyone will be singing along with 2Face in your house o, or you dey a motor or you dey a go-slow. It may or may not outsell Face 2 face depending on how the wheels of the marketing juggernaut that is Kennis Music decide to turn. The One Million Naira sweepstakes you enter once you purchase the original CD is not going to affect sales much. You’d need to buy this CD for the music itself, not for a chance to make a million bucks.

If you ask me if Grass 2 Grace is Grass or Grace, I’d say, Grace definitely. This may not be a popular assertion but it’s my opinion, so bite me. Expectation was insanely high before this album came out, and right off the bat many believe it’s not up to par with Face 2 face. But that’s life; the same piece of music that is capable of transporting some souls beyond the here and now is also capable of turning the guts of other souls. But then, that’s their cup of tea or kettle of fish, whichever they prefer. Personally, right now you’d need a crowbar to pry Grass 2 Grace out of my car’s CD changer.
zero
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Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:31 pm

definately...grass! i aint feeling it...i'd read the review later sha...right now my eyes hurt...been drivin all day

P.S: u and ur bros really like long posts sha..LOL
teckzilla
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Fri Jan 05, 2007 3:13 pm

[quote name="zero"]definately...grass! i aint feeling it...i'd read the review later sha...right now my eyes hurt...been drivin all day

P.S: u and ur bros really like long posts sha..LOL[/quote]

feelin that for instance joint,but that cut with VIP is awful..for real..jus my thots
fecko1
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Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:57 am

I think the message behind "Grass 2 Grace" is all about love,peace and political stability in Africa.I'll rate his sophomore effort to be 80%. No be small thing!
saysaysay3334
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Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:41 pm

i think that tuface's new one is ok.and u,what type of long article is that,who do u think has time to start reading that stuff.And this site is becoming very boring.are you guys lackin topics.
lawyerchap007
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Wed Jan 10, 2007 3:31 pm

@saysaysay3334 What's with the beef? I'm excited about how 2face managed to produce a credible follow up to Face 2 Face and i put my excitement down in a way i feel would benefit people who would take the time to read it. They always said that if you needed to hide something from a nigerian, put it in a book. I guess you've proved that right. And instead of griping about the site being boring and lackin topics, how about you start a topic yourself? Instead of cursing the darkness, why not light a candle?
Jgillz
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Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:52 pm

Hey lawyerchap007, ur piece was really wonderful... u took ur time well in writing it n we all need 2 commend ur efforts. I 've been hitching to read something about Tuface's album long b4 it came out n even when it eventually did, no one was really willing to take d bold step of reviewing d Album like u did.

The Album "Grass 2 Grace" is yet to be fully accepted by most people, though Kennis Music/Now Muzik believe its acceptance/sells will pick up wit time like face 2 Face did... I've listened to the album over n over again since it was released n tried to compare it wit Face 2 Face... Hum! it really difficult to determine which of the album is better than the other. It is my humbly opinion that 'Grass 2 Grace' is more matured with a message that truly makes sense. I hardly can skip any of the tracks on the Cd... I've seen two of d videos (No Shaking n For Instance) from d new album n I think they r really cool compared with his previous Videos, especially 'For instance' it an animated video... d effects n production are really good comparing it with Weird Mc's Ijoya and other animated music videos produced by 9ja artist.

Finally, it is of my own views / opinion that the Album is good and I expect that with time it will take over d airwaves like it is already doing in most of d radio stations.
swahiliremix
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Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:42 pm

I have not heard the new album yet, hope to get hold of it soon. From your comments, the album doesn't seem to be much better than the old one.
fecko1
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Thu Jan 11, 2007 12:48 am

[quote name="Jgillz"] especially 'For instance' it an animated video... d effects n production are really good comparing it with Weird Mc's Ijoya and other animated music videos produced by 9ja artist.[/quote] Hey Jgillz! where did u watch 2face's FOR INSTANCE video cuz I aint seen it yet on most 9ja Tv stations not even on Mtv or channel o.Holla cuz i'ma really love to check it out.
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