NOT TOO FAR BEYOND
How do you convince listeners you are an International Artist? Ask 2face.
Few years ago, he had that fiasco with the R.Kelly ‘collaboration.’ Till today, no one really knows the truth behind that song but we all agree something was not right. On his new LP, Away & Beyond, 2face tries again; the album opener has Huma Lara, an Indian singer. We don’t know her. We don’t care. Meaning, we don’t care enough to probe. So, Mr Idibia wins! He has a foreigner on a track (she is not exactly R.Kelly but she will serve, since her presence is mainly symbolic) and no one will go asking stupid questions.
Or does he? Competition is rife. D’banj and the Igbo twins, Psquare, have bigger stars on their side these days and lesser known Duncan Mighty has a song with an Indian (or an Indian sample.)
If the collaboration angle is controversial, then there is another trick: the release of an International Edition. For now though, we have Away & Beyond in the Ordinary Version. It is ordinary, because the present album never reaches the heights of the man’s initial efforts- the pioneering, game changing Face 2 Face and the reassuring Grass to Grace. And that might be putting it lightly.
The question is, has the Jos born 2face reached a plateau phase? Or is he merely cheating his fans? 2010’s Unstoppable was a failure until the International Edition was released. Is that the plan once again? We wait.
For now, Away & Beyond is a very average album with a few songs standing out. Omo T’osan and Rainbow are good love songs but when you are 2face, the stakes are higher- not only are you expected to outdo others, but also outdo yourself. We have seen this before: Michael Jackson, whose later albums, though commercially successful were dismal compared to the mammoth Thriller. So, though the aforementioned love songs are some of the best on radio today, they are do not come close to African Queen.
Yes, pop music can be cruel.
Ultimately, even without that baggage, Away & Beyond will struggle to be considered a masterwork. Split in two, it is mainly concerned with dancing (obviously buoyed by the success of Implication) and love. The social consciousness that had formed the backbone of his better albums only make cameos here, this is strange as now is the time for such music. It is only in In Your Eyes that a hint of the earlier 2face comes to the fore when he says, “Politicians dem looting…/Christians and Muslims praying for one loving/I see no bombing.” Weak lines and they come out as afterthoughts.
All of this may be pardonable as long as 2face does not bore listeners, which in this age of short attention spans means a tightly packed effort. Sadly, at more than a dozen tracks, about 60 minutes of playtime and consisting of duds, most listeners will struggle to stifle a yawn.
Or at the very least, get reacquainted with the skip button.