This morning, I was in the bathroom with my friend, Mr. iTunes Music player, and as usual, he was on shuffle.
Fuuny guy. He has mastered the art of sifting through my over 2000 songs like a McCoy, going from a zero to a hundered in a blink.
I mean, nigaa goes 🎵Ijoooba orun, lere oniiigbagbo o🎵in one minute, putting you in celestial mood, and the next thing you’ll hear is, 🎵talo ka pata iya Teacher lo n’Ibadan, kapaichumarimarichupako, zanku, leg work, zanku, gbe bodi e 🎵.
Most times I’ll just smile and be like, “guy, guy…guy!!! how far na! Nawa for you o!”, and then just vibe on.
Back to this morning, I think I was in the middle of that eternally attendant tedium of scrubbing the back when he blazed in with the ranking single – Say You Believe Me – from the 2008 #PlanB reunion album by the Platanshun Boiz trio.
🎵 Baby believe me when I say, na you dey matter for my mind….Girl anytime I look into your eyes it’s like sapphire and diamond inside….The reason why I trip for you is that you truly truly under-under-understand me me so so…And there’s many other reasons that makes me dòbálè for yoooou more and more…🎵
You should have seen how my soap-rigged self burst out moves, turned the sponge to a mic and sang along, after I had initially hailed my guy [I’m sure I’m not the only one who hails the Music Player in those moments when it comes through with one correct song].
“Washeere my niggaaa!”, I twale-d.
But as I vibed to this gem of a jam, I got re-struck with the legend of Augustine “Blackface” Ahmedu.
Re-struck because I mean, any and every knower of true sound must have been once or many times stricken by this guy’s apparent talent.
Blackface was [is] easily the most talented of that trio. His voice was [is] the scarce type. He gave different. He wrote 80% of their songs. He sang, rapped, and hooked. He had the swagger we loved to see. Oh! That his creamy voice!
Below is an excerpt from a 2016 article by Obinna Fred:
“…all three members of the Plantashun Boiz, their managers, record label executives and even music industry insiders are still very much alive and can explain to you the numerous roles which Blackface played in not only naming the group, creating the “Face” personas and also writing a bulk of the music, [not just] anybody can do that…”
He just was [is] the most talented, and this is neither an unpopular opinion nor is it an alternative fact [thank you Trump!]
However, we all know the other story. At a point, Blackface was rumored to be somewhere on unhappy street, blowing last ashes off cigars of miserable, while staring at bottles of fermented anger. We all know this story.
He didn’t really make it. Especially when compared to Innocent ‘TuFace’ Idibia, the most successful act from that group.[No, pause. This is NOT one of those look-at-your-mate, inspire-to-aspire-to-expire articles o! Read on]
I put ‘Say You Believe Me’ on repeat, and as largely usual in most Plantashun Boiz’ songs, Blackface sang most part of it. Right there, I couldn’t just stop thinking about whatever it was that stymied the “blow” of Blackface’s talent.
After a while of thought, the only way my mind could explain this was via a sentence – TALENT IS AN ORPHAN – without the right people, talent is nothing.
One could argue this stance for ages, but is quite clear that something wasn’t right about the kind of people who surrounded Blackface. How the hell did someone this talented didn’t get to that zenith where we’d have seen more and more of him?
I had to accept that among many other reasons blinded to me, this fact of a lack of right people was top for me.
I wanted to blame the beast of piracy for Blackface’s mishap, but I realized it was a common denominator to most, if not all Nigerian recording artistes. Boom! I was back to the arithmetic of people.
What if he had his own Efe Omoregbe like TuFace does till date? What if he had his own Mama Burna as Burna Boy does, lifesavingly at that? I kept asking myself.
From Blackface’s striking legacy, I couldn’t but help acknowledge that Talent needs its parents – the right people – around it to survive the long haul.
The right people who will:
• curate the right influence around the talent
• bear the weight of the dream bore by the talent
• help find paths to survival for the talent
• become team, a beam, and not burden for the talent
• become family and like-minded advisers for the talent
• become comrades who can say NO to the talent’s vices and make it live.
Talent is not TALENT without [the right] People.
Talent is an ORPHAN without [the right] People.
Talent will end up LONELY without [the right] People.
By insight, you’re forced to personally ask – What kind of people are teaming and teeming around my purpose, vision, and/or talent?
Well, I heard Blackface is back on his grind now though, and I had to go to his Twitter page to see those efforts – I wish him the best and can’t wait for whatever cooks from that kitchen.
To me, and as I said earlier, to a lot of people who legit sabi, Blackface will always be remembered as a pluripotent multi-genre artiste – who can rap, sing, create roots reggae music as well as dancehall, some sprinkle of Idoma tunes and sometimes gospel. I’ll remember him as a social activist who has always used conscious music as a weapon to speak for the vast majority of masses [we can’t forget the single with Alobai ‘Hard Life’ in a jiffy], and most importantly, a songwriter who penned arguably the greatest and biggest R&B song in Nigerian and African contemporary music history – African Queen.
PS: I have relieved my guy, ITunes Music Player, off its shuffle job today, ‘cos it’s gonna be an all Blackface Naija weekend!
🎵…it’s a hard life wey dey live for Naija, ja ja ja…🎵
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