A Rejoinder To The Article Blackface Has A Legacy ? which was written by Jim Donnett and published on Tooxclusive.com on January 28 2016
By Obinna Fred
This weekend, my attention was drawn to an ill-conceived, shoddy and borderline malicious article which was written by Jim Donnett, a manager and music editor at online media platform Tooxclusive.com who took it upon himself to question the legacy of Augustine “Blackface Naija” Ahmedu, former member of the Plantashun Boyz, founder of dancehall trio D’Tribunals and presently a solo recording act who most recently made the news headlines due to his allegations of Copyright theft which he levelled against his former bandmate Innocent “2baba” Idibia and Starboy Ayo “Wizkid” Balogun. While the case is still pending with Blackface Naija resorting to seeking redress in a court of law,he however had earlier engaged in an hour long Twitter rant on the 25th of January where he called out different individuals ranging from 2baba to Wizkid, Sound Sultan to P.Square and even 2babas manager Efe Omoregbe was not left out of the firing line.Shortly after, the whole situation snowballed into a full blown Twitter frenzy and is currently one of the strongest talking points of the year thus far.
While I am not in support of Blackface taking his grieviance to the public domain of Twitter and still feel he and 2baba can and should settle it amicably between themselves out of court, I think it is important to put things into perspective with this article and present the facts which prove that indeed Blackface Naija has one of the strongest legacies in contemporary Nigerian music, which cannot be questioned by any self respecting and knowledgeable entertainment journalist, impresario or curator today, tomorrow and forever.
First of all, What is a legacy ? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past, which means that a legacy can either be good or bad, and a good legacy is sometimes refereed to as heritage which is defined by the same dictionary as something of Value which is passed down from an ancestor to a predecessor now, let us examine the heritage of Blackface Naija and respond to some of the paragraphs which Jim Donnett wrote down in his article.
Scene 1:- Blackface and 2baba were introduced to national consciousness in 1999 when they were both featured on Omode Meta Nsere, a monster smash which was performed by Tony Tetuila who had just been kicked out of the Remedies ( Eedris Abdulkareem and Eddy Remedy ) and decided to pursue a solo career. Blackface and 2face Idibia ( as he was called then ) were unheard voices then and were given an opportunity to appear on a song with Tony who was then a “Next-rated” act with a lot of potential and whose beef with his former bandmates was still ongoing and one of the biggest entertainment stories of 1998-99, an opportunity they both took with open arms and while 2face handled the chorus in what many people still call his best guest appearance ever, Blackface delivered the first verse, a lyrical and scathing attack at Remedies, most importantly Eedris Abdulkareem who replied a year later with Wackawickee MC’s and thus the first ever Nigerian Hip-hop beef was born.
Heritage Number 1:- Blackface Naija was involved in and directly sparked the first ever Hip-Hop battle on wax in Nigeria.
Scene 2:- Omode Meta Nsere was so huge, circulated around the country and got everybody on the song ( the others being Ruff Rugged And Raw and Paul Play Dairo who produced the song ) a record deal. Plantashun Boys ( who had now been joined by Chibuzor “Faze” Orji ) were signed to Dove music and released two albums Body and Soul ( 2000 ), Sold Out ( 2003 ) and their reunion album Plan B ( 2007 ) all of which were monumental groundbreaking projects (especially Body & Soul ) which spread across Nigeria and ushered in the new wave of the urban youth musical movement which has taken over today and Blackface was reputed to have contributed a bulk of the songwriting on Plantashun Boiz albums, an assertion that has never been debunked by 2baba and Faze.
Heritage Number 2:- Blackface Naija is a member of the most successful trio in contemporary Nigerian music thus far Plantashun Boys.
Scene 3:- 2baba was the first member of the Plantashun Boiz to leave the fold and sign a solo deal with Kennis Music in 2004 which culminated with the release his Magnum opus ( depending on whom you ask ) Face 2 Face, an album that featured Blackface as an artiste on Odi Ya and as a songwriter on African Queen, the biggest song of 2babas career so far which eventually became the subject of a series of accusations and counter accusations between Blackface and Kennis Music. The problem was eventually settled when Kenny “Keke” Ogungbe” The CEO of Kennis music admitted that Blackface had infact written the song and would receive royalties from the song in the future.
Heritage Number 3:- Blackface Naija wrote The biggest song in Nigerian Afro-pop history, African Queen which was performed by 2baba Idibia.
Scene 4:- We all know dancehall music is one of the least embraced among the urban genres and the average lifespan of a dancehall artiste in Nigeria is 2 albums and 3 years ( Blackky, Mallam Spicey, Marvelous Benjy, Shank, Fada U-Turn, ) , Blackface Naija not only chose to make Dancehall music, but to fortify it with political commentary, thus he spoke out for the “Ghetto Youth” on his debut album Ghetto Child, which stands today as the best Dancehall album released in Nigeria over the last 10 years. The album introduced us to Rocksteady and Mallam Spicey, two of whom went on to form a group with him called D’Trybunals and also forge commendable music careers for themselves, of which the former is currently signed to 2baba under Hypertek Music.
Heritage Number 4:- Ghetto Child, Blackface’s debut album is top 5 contemporary dancehall albums released in Nigeria from 1999 till date.
Finally Blackface Has the most albums for a Dancehall artiste in Nigeria, 6 Solo Albums, 3 Albums with Plantashun Boiz, 1 Album with D’Trybunals ( Mallam Spicey And Rocksteady ), 10 in total, much more than his contemporaries in his genre and outside his genre, which is once again another solid heritage and when you listen to artistes like Patoranking, Endia, Cynthia Morgan and Burna Boy, you can’t help but notice elements of Blackface Naija in their music.
With these few points of mine I hope I have been able to convince you, not con…….. I’m not done yet, now let’s take a look at excerpts from Mr Donnetts article which I will address directly.
Blackface thinks he has a legacy? I am perturbed by that thought. If by chance he’s referring to events whilst with his former crew, it still remains uncertain what exactly he was famed for in the group other than he was part-singer in the group, and complemented their trio in making sweet harmonies. I mean, anybody can do that really. Even I can – Jim Donnett
Me:- Fortunately for us Jim, 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, anybody cannot do that, and I will stake any amount of money to bet that YOU Jim, most certainly cannot do it.
I’m not trying to hate or bring down the person of Blackface, but from my stand point as a regular guy who found preference in the kind of music made by some dudes like that, I still can’t finger out the indelible mark or lasting impression made by Blackface either during his stint with the Plantashun Boiz or moments that led to it’s final disbandment. So what exactly is he saying? – Jim Donnett
Me:- While I find this paragraph incoherent, I understand what he is trying to say, and the 5 Heritages I listed above do answer this, but I can’t help but think anybody that even remotely suggests Blackface has no heritage really does harbour a certain degree of hate for him and lacks the capacity for objective reasoning
Rather than throwing jabs at the thieves, shall we not concentrate a bit on the property owners whose negligence have cost them an assumed fortune? This Ojuelegba song is perhaps pushing 2 years in record already so why did Blackface have to wait this long before speaking out? Isn’t this the same carelessness he exhibited which led to similar alleges made over 2face’s African Queen? Oh, I just got word now that there’s even fresh allegations about yet another song sef with 2face again. – Jim Donnett
Me:- Unfortunately the structure of the Nigerian music industry is 95% to blame for the copyright problems, because of lack of powerful institutions (no disrespect PMAN and COSON ) that protect the rights of artistes, and efficiently collates royalties and I feel it’s somewhat myopic to blame intellectual property theft in Nigeria solely on “negligence” on the artistes part, and yes Mr Jim, There is another song, and it is called Let Somebody Love You Featuring Bridget Kelly, Do your research before you write, and 2baba is yet to debunk this.
Honestly, Blackface need not bother about a non-existent legacy, nobody is trying to kill anything. Instead he should seek out ways to nip this open-handed carelessness that has now become his career bane. – Jim Donnett
Me:- Blackface Naija will always be remembered by all credible and legitimate entertainment journalist as well as knowledgeable fans as a multi-genre artiste ( who can rap, sing, create roots reggae music as well as dancehall, and also dabbled with traditional Idoma music and sometimes Gospel ), a social activist who has always used his music as a weapon to speak for the vast majority of masses and most importantly to me a songwriter who penned the greatest and biggest R&B song in Nigerian contemporary music history : African Queen.
Final Word:- I have never written a rejoinder to an article, or responded to any article published by any online platform in Nigeria, but I am replying to this article, because I know Tooxclusive is a big platform and recently started giving out awards for musical excellence and I feel strongly any body that wants to give awards in Nigerian music must be well versed and fully informed about Nigerian urban music from it’s inception till date, so as to protect the pillars on which the industry was built, and this article shows that Mr Jim Donnett does not posses that level of knowledge on the industry. I urge him to research, read more and ask questions, lest he ends up tarnishing his nascent legacy while trying to question that of a well accomplished writer, composer and musical icon..We all know Innocent Idibia is a special artiste, but Give Blackface his due respect.
About The Writer:- Obinna Fred aka The Nigerian Music Curator is an entertainment blogger who is head of content on Nigeriansounds.com and is passionate about all aspects of modern Nigerian music.