I remember going to the club on one of those uninspiring nights when all I want to do is sleep, but my next meal ticket depended heavily on turning up. It was a regular night, like every other day in the club where girls are waltzing in in threes and fours and men are crowding them just to get a likkle whine. I was almost losing morale when I heard a high tempo instrumental which was immediately followed by a very unique voice. You could be in a sick bed, struggling to hold on to life and on hearing Jagaban, a boisterous spirit will fall on you and you would have to dance. No jokes.
Jagaban is one of those songs that brings along with it a storm. Ycee quickly secured a place in the list of artists to watch out for with this massive jam. Before Jagaban, he had featured Patoranking on a song titled Condo. The rapper’s style of rap could be evidently heard on Condo. Ycee is not a great punchliner neither does he have mouth-watering rhymes. But he is the kind of rapper you want to vibe to. His flow is immaculate and his baritone voice usually fills a song up such that it blends perfectly into the instrumental.
Ycee garnered a huge fanbase in a short time. Hailing from the prestigious University of Lagos, the rapper was loved by a lot of youths, especially girls. Signed to Tinny entertainment, Ycee continued to rock his boat of musical success. He went ahead to do a remix of Jagaban with Olamide. This spread his music to the streets and the song could be heard being jammed to in bus parks, markets, ghettos. Jagaban and extensively, Ycee, enjoyed a viral success. He dropped another single, Omo Alhaji which reflected the artist’s ability to adapt Afropop and Hip-hop. He featured on many songs and collaborated with different artists including Reekado Banks, L.A.X. I can never forget his sensational input on Saeon’s De Be cypher which featured him and other artists like Ozone, Ladipoe, Eva.
Ycee later released an EP The First Wave — his first musical project — in 2017. The album featured Falz, Maleek Berry, Seyi Shay. It received critical acclaim, but it didn’t really reveal the Ycee most people wanted to hear. The project appeared to be a premature one even though it took some time before its release. Ycee had created a brand, grown it to a certain level (by dropping smash hit singles and doing a madness on features) and the EP did not quite match it. He had a music distribution deal with Sony at this time, released the EP under them yet he was unable to make a mark. At this time, his relevance as an emerging act trying to swim the muddy waters of the Nigerian music industry still remained.
After the release of the EP, Ycee continued to struggle. It became a thing of difficulty for him to churn out a decent jam. It was expected that he would remedy the inefficacious project with a single. One of the biggest songs of 2017 was on the EP, Juice, and it trumped any and every effort Ycee put into any other song. He featured on some songs and released singles, but he did not quite get the traction he once had command over. Nigerians have a reputation for moving on quickly from things especially when it comes to music or any art related thing. 2018 came and he collaborated on a project Late Night Vibrations with fellow label mate, Bella Alubo. It was a decent project. However, much more was expected from the rapper. For a rapper who was said to be the one to take the Nigerian Hip-hop to towering heights, his input on the project was barely remarkable. He dropped many singles featuring Joyner Lucas on the remix of Juice, label mates Bella Alubo and Dapo Tuburna, Eugy and many others.
This year seems to have been unusually tough for the Tinny entertainment flagship act. There have been speculations that the rapper is tired of his deal with his label and has quietly quit. Ycee is undoubtedly talented and his success (and lack of) is very dependent on his label/management. There have been reports that he is being ripped off and has not reaped much from his hard work. His story highlights the impending redundancy that is very likely to hit a lot of record labels. Most artists are stuck in unfavorable contracts and with the advent of digital platforms, promotion and distribution of music have gotten easier which is seeing a lot of artists ditch their labels. The chances that Ycee’s career will record a boost with his exit from Tinny Entertainment are on the high side. He has released a new single My Side independently without Tinny Entertainment and it would be interesting to see a major comeback from the rapper.
I am a firm believer in Ycee’s talent. However, a lot of work needs to be done. Ycee appears to be laid back or perhaps his battle with unjust record deals have suppressed the willingness and hunger to invest maximum effort in his craft. But it should be noted that the young rapper still has a bright future ahead of him. He has a loyal fan base which could grow enormously if he can manage to set his head right in the game. He is unarguably a talent to behold, but talent is scarcely ever enough.