FRESH CONCERNS OVER PLANTASHUN BOIZ REUNION
BY AYENI ADEKUNLE NINETIES’ R&B group Plantashun Boiz have finally released the first single off their forthcoming reunion album to widespread critical condemnation. An obviously bad omen, for a project that has reportedly gulped over N70 million. The Plantashun Boiz comeback album tentatively titled Plan B is scheduled to be released on July 28 by Tjoe Records, an offshoot of Tjoe marketers led by Tochukwu Okoye. Since talks of the reunion was first made public knowledge late 2006, pundits have been divided over the direction the album would take, and its possible success. Several factors were responsible for this. Most prominent was the known fact that the common friendship that binded them in the days of Plantashun Boiz-when they lived together and took uniform decisions- had since given way to bitterness, rivlary and bickering. Therefore, many suspected, the main motive for the reunion album would be money- each act is expected to make at least N30 million at the end of the project. The plantashun boiz went the way of the Remedies and x-appeal in 2004, after 2face Idibia put pen to paper for Kennis music, causing his partners to allege betrayal. Efforts by faze and Blackface to continue proved abortive and each soon opted for solo careers. The years that followed were dramatic – with Faze dropping Faze alone, where he narrated his version of the P.Boiz break up, and revealed the he had prior warnings from his mother. Blackface, whose career had refused to pick up, went to the press, and threatened to go to court, over Idibia’s alleged infringement on his copyright – he claimed he wrote the original lyrics of African Queen(2face’s continental hit) and was yet to get credit or any form of compensation. In December 2006, despite on-going talks of reconciliation, both Faze and Blackface shunned 2face’s album launch in Lagos. So, when talks of a planned reunion became public knowledge, it was easy for many to insinuate that the motive was the huge sums involved, especially for Faze and Blakface who have not had it as good as 2face. Nevertheless, many lauded the idea, and expressed strong desires to have a third plantashun Boiz album for keeps. Some pundits are even advising The Remedies, Def O’ Clan, X-appeal and other separated groups to take a cue from P.Boiz. What was left to be known was the direction the new music would take. With Producers cobhams, OJB, ID Cabasa and others, will the album maintain the old known Planashun Boiz style, or a more pop direction a la 2face Idibia whose recipe has already proven wondrous? Would the content of the lyrics be the usual theme of love, life and leisure, or will the re-united buddies toe Blackface’s path and adopt some measure of activism and advocacy? Would the ‘boiz’ be committed enough to bring the best songs from their pouches or woud rather reserve such for their individual albums? Now, the eventual release of ‘say you believe me’, the first single off ‘Plan B’ has finally blown the lid off the suspense that has clouded the whole project since it started. The four-and-a-half minute song clearly demonstrates a decision to stik to the conventional Plantashun Boiz formular, an idea that may not augur well for their performers and their nascent label. ‘say you believe me’ thrives on the characteristic Nelson Brown beat formular even though the song was produced by someone else. And the lyrics, the regular romance theme, delivered in Pidgin English and proper English. If you’ve heard ‘knock mi off’, ‘you and I’, ‘don’t you know’, ‘if life’ and ‘cousin’s cousin’, you may not need to hear ‘say you believe me’.At a time when those who listened to Plantashun Boiz between 1998 and 2003 have grown older, more mature and with more options to choose from, it could be difficult for this one song to make any meaningful impact on fans who have been starving for nearly half a decade. What worked for the trio when they hit the limelight in the late 90s, was the fact they they came with a new sound, and a definite musical direction. Plus, at a time when mediocrity reigned supreme, an entire industry was grateful to be rescued from pretenders who had taken the system hostage. Now, if they must retain the old formular, then it must come polished, futuristic and absolutely original. If not, a new formular would just do. If it must be R&B, then it must not be anything of less quality than what Paul Play and Nomoreloss have given us with Hitsville and Let Them Say respectively. And if it has to be pop, it must not come short of the genius contained in 2face’s Grass 2 Grace. Anything less, is totally unacceptable, and may spell doom for TJOE’s investment, of a future Plantashun Boiz reunion. Of course, that is not to say fans and enthusiasts won’t scramble to buy out of curiousity, but such rushes are known to wane after the first few weeks of release. What ensures that an album moves off the shelves and break sales predictions, is the ability of some songs to leap off it and become established hits, and the overall affinity of fans for the album’s music, message. Judging from ‘Stylee’, the first single off DJ Jimmy Jatt’s upcoming mixtape, many have already predicted the album will be a best seller. All the cuts on 2face’s second solo album have developed wings already, flying as far as they can; so it won’t be surprising if the album continues to move units, even after two decades. Meanwhile, Faze, 2face and Blackface caused another league of speculations when, last week, they were all absent from a media event to officially launch their album project. The event, held at Oceanview restaurants, Victoria Island, lagos, had fans, journalists and other guests raising eyebrows andasking questions when, after a protracted delay, the event started and ended without any of the acts showing up. While 2face was reportedly in Spain on engagement, Faze and Blackface where confirmed to be in the country. The incident raised fresh concerns over the planned reunion, and suggested to many, that all may not be well between the ‘Boiz’ and TJOE; or, among the acts themselves who many believe still do not enjoy each other’s company. It is the third time, in a year, that they will pull out of a public appearance; although they surprised many when they hit the stage and performed together at Nigga Raw’s concert.