Exclusive: How Ycee’s creative process is making him a better man

It’s been well over a year since fans have been anticipating the arrival of Ycee’s debut album, Ycee vs Zaheer.  Now, after a dramatic split from his record label, and a few singles to tease the upcoming project, we’re finally expecting the long-awaited album this week, and Ycee thinks it’s the best music he’s ever made

He first rose to prominence in 2015 with the undeniable hit song, “Jagaban”, and he didn’t even realise what a hit he had on his hands.

I can’t say that at the time I was making it that I knew people would like it. I even put it out as a filler just to keep the momentum going in preparation for my next song, “Omo Alhaji”.

One hour after Jagaban dropped, however, Ycee found is social media buzzing with welcome reception from fans, and his star has been on a steady rise since. Even with his tough transition from signed to independent artist, the silver lining is that Ycee is developing himself as a man, and is in turn creating some of the best music he’s ever made. 

Since terminating his contract and being thrown into managing all of his affairs – from the creative process to his strategy and business model – Ycee has learnt that “there’s always a higher level than the top. With every step [forward] I’ve taken towards my career, there’s been something more to look forward to achieving when I get there.” 

He’s also learnt that “If you’ve been through any hard situations, it’s not supposed to break you, it should make you. You should take everything that happens as an experience, instead of letting it weigh you down.”

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Not only is Ycee enjoying the benefits of learning this lesson, it’s also translating into fire music, as his upcoming debut is an accurate and direct reflection of his headspace over the past few years. For him, his current settled state is allowing him make great music, with the rough times he went through to get to this stage laying the foundation for what we’re getting today.

Regardless of all the responsibilities I have now that I’m an independent artist, my mental health is in such a good place since leaving my label and its shows.

Now, I’m a fun guy to be around, I’m a lot more chilled, a lot of people can see that I’m more vibrant and it’s translating to the music. 

When I was signed, I used to make music to get away from chaos, and now I’m making music cause it’s what I want to do, so everything is just working out for itself. 

We can definitely see proof of this in his recent releases “Dakun” and “Wahala Dey”, as they have quickly become fan favourites, whetting everyone’s appetite for the upcoming album. While he’s enjoying the perks of a clear head and peace of mind, he admits that there are some challenges he faces saying that it’s going to take a bit of getting used to.

Usually with labels when that transition happens, it’s a case where the artist has grown his or her wings and it’s a clear next step. With me, I had to terminate my contract and come out of my comfort zone, so I’ve been doing a lot of learning on the job and I’m thankful for all the people around me who are there to guide me and bring me to a good path.

Ycee Vs Zaheer isn’t just a bunch of melodies he strung together on a dope beat, he’s been putting this body of work together since 2017, and it features a song he made in every stage of this transitional period. He’s eager to show fans with this new album that he’s grown as a man and as a musician.

He says: “Even though it has been a few years, I couldn’t put out my debut album without stuff from the beginning of my career. I’ve taken some of the old stuff I had, and made some new music to add to the catalogue. The new songs that I recorded in 2019 are just vibes, because I’m in a good headspace.”

According to the rapper, Ycee vs Zaheer is for people who just like to vibe and have a good time but also appreciate lyrical content at the same time. There are a lot of messages he wants listeners to take from what he’s saying in the album, so he asserts that he doesn’t feel the need to cater to the current sound, to ascertain commercial viability. Ycee is confident in the way he fuses rap and singing, and his debut project is a reflection of this sound which he has spent all this time perfecting.

My versatility is the most distinct thing about my sound and that’s what gets the people going. I started singing as a means to an end, but then I became good at it and I got more comfortable with my ability to do both. [It] Doesn’t feel like I’m selling out or anything because it still sounds good when I’m singing on non-commercial production – that’s just who I’ve become now.

He’d still choose rapping over singing if he was ever backed into a corner with that choice, as when he was forming his sound and brand, his three main influences were Lil Wayne, Drake and Kanye West. Even though he’s his biggest inspiration currently, those three are still major reference points to him, and he enjoys the challenges that come with coming up with rhymes and punchlines for a verse. 

Ycee vs Zaheer drops this Friday, and away from the project being a potential hit, Ycee has more plans beyond music, as he is planning to take his skills into the filmmaking and fashion world. In the works, he has a short film based around the upcoming album, and would also like to get more involved in creating fan merch before launching into his own full-on fashion brand.

We’re excited to hear how Ycee translates his mental well being into fire music with this new album, and are hoping to learn a thing or two from him and his music.

Preorder Ycee Vs Zaheer ahead of it’s November 8th release right here:

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