Our First Impressions of Psycho YP’s Latest Project, ‘YPSZN3’

the final instalment of the YPSZN series

Psycho YP is an indisputable leader of his generation. In 2018, he released ‘YPSZN,’ the first instalment in the YPSZN series and garnered the attention of many rap fans all over the country. While co-owning and running Apex Village, one of the most intriguing creative collectives in Nigeria, he followed up with the release of ‘YPSZN2’ two years later, in 2019. The body of work featured the standout hits “City Of Kings,” and “Opps,” and propelled PsychoYP into greater heights, all culminating in a  as  a Headies nomination for Best Rap Album in 2020. 

Last year, Psycho YP emerged as The NATIVE’s Best rapper of the year and has since become one of the leaders of Nigeria’s new wave of Rap music. Now, the rapper has arrived with his most recent offering and the final instalment of the YPSZN series, ‘YPSZN3.’ The project arrives shortly over a year after his latest EP, ‘Euphoria’ which was released a few month back, and exactly three years on from the last YPSZN project ‘YPSZN2.’ 

In usual YP manner, throughout the new project, the rapper ties together his eclectic and hard-hitting sound that cuts across Trap, Grime, Drill and R&B music, while showcasing his stellar lyrical dexterity, infectious multi-layered flow and creative sensibilities. On the project, he taps rappers from across different continents and different soundscapes, including Jeriq, Zlatan, BackRoad Gee, Odumodublvck and more. 

Being one of the most anticipated rap projects this year, from best song to best guest performance, here’s ours—The NATIVE editorial team’s first impression of ‘YPSZN3.’

Best Song?

Emmanuel: YP’s ability to craft fully realised rap records have been an unstaggering part of his nationwide acclaim. On ‘YPSZN3,’ those qualities remain at the forefront of the mixtape. That said, I had a couple of favourites but none more than “IC3” and “Put It In Stone.” The former combines the rap forces of Zilla Oaks and Backroad Gee to create an anthem that’s affirmatively positive while retaining the swag usually associated with YP. Chill percussion marks the latter, as YP spazzes over the beat with assured flows. As the title suggests, he’s confident in his place as a rapper and knows he’s going to leave a formidable legacy when it’s all done. I love when rappers talk about subjects bigger than themselves, and YP does that brilliantly.

Wonu: This is one of those bodies of work where I can’t exactly pick a favourite honestly. I really enjoyed listening to the mixtape but right now, I’m currently leaning towards “Ok, Alright” and “Relax” These records just do it for me, YP sliding on the production of “Ok, Alright” is incredible and when he comes together with Alpha P, phenomenal. I love hearing YP sing a little so it’s not far-fetched that I’m also leaning towards “Relax.” I’m going to take some more time to get into the album properly and I’m sure my favourites will probably change by the weekend but these records are currently doing it for me right now. 

Biggest Skip?

Tela: I honestly don’t have a single song I would skip mainly because the ‘YPZN3’ has been perfectly curated. There is an easy flow into all the songs. 

Moore: It’s hard to choose the biggest skip from this project. I’d listen to each song in the right mood and setting. If I had to choose one, I’d probably pick “Ok, Alright,” as its chorus is a bit repetitive in a way that could make the song less pleasant after multiple listens.

Israel: As with every YP project this one has zero skips.

Standout Production?

Tela: The whole project has magnificent production but I am sure to replay “Silent Mode” on repeat. As a huge Drill fan, the relentless ominous 808s in this tune has me obsessed. The slow build-up of the tempo makes it exuberant in its darkness enabling the listener to visualise the context of the song. The hi-hats and the woozy bass sound send a wave of excitement that makes the beat memorable especially with the onomatopeic use of the door knock and the adlibs just fit perfectly.  RJay really did snap with the production. “Ok, Alright” also really stands out. The tuned kick drums give a gritty edge to the song.  

Nwanneamaka: Easily “Stronger.” I haven’t stopped playing that track since it dropped. I love how well Zlatan and PsychoYP’s verses connect. Considering their sounds are very distinct, their flow is very seamless and I only have the producers to thank. The beat is so intoxicating, paired with Zlatan’s iconic adlibs and YP’s melodious vocals is crazy.  Two people I would not have paired on a track but Ramoni, Psalmist and Jaylon made magic. There’s a reason this was the promotional single for the project. 

Best Guest Feature? 

Uzoma: It’s Reeplay for me. Although his verse comes towards the end of “My Country People, Haffa?” after PsychoYP and Jeriq had their shine on large portions of the song, Reeplay’s verse immediately stood out for me. Through his surefooted delivery, his verse is relatable, considering the observations he makes about the current living situation in Nigeria. That performance made me quickly Google his name for his songs.

Emmanuel: Zilla Oaks on “IC3” is easily one of my favourite verses all year. He’s very succinct in that showing but quickly underscores the reason why he’s such an acclaimed rapper in the ABJ music scene. Azanti’s hook on the closer “Dangerous World” was also poignant as well, colouring the song with a sensitivity that echoes its title and the softer-hued vision of the mixtape. On that same record Odumodublvck delivers a sterling verse, establishing the fact that although YP is heavily collaborative, he carefully selects musicians who can translate his vision. 

Biggest Potential Hit?

Moore: The entire project is filled with back-to-back potential hits, but “Drop That shit” stood out to me. It starts with a sample that immediately gives the song a timeless feel. The beat seems to be set to the perfect rhythm to draw the listener. The featured artists also elevate the song to truly memorable levels, making it something that will certainly get many replays.

Israel: I can’t really decide but personally I think “My Country People, Haffa?” and “Nigerian Man” have a real chance at being commercially successful. 

Overall First Impression

Nwanneamaka: Unfortunately, I was late to the club and only started paying attention to the artist after the release of  ‘MIDLIFE CRISIS/WYDTM’ earlier this year. For that reason I can’t necessarily track his growth in comparison to any other projects, however, I love what I’m hearing on this new project so far.  Listening to “Stronger” ahead of the release of ‘YPSZN3’ still did not prepare me for what was to come. I think the tracks on the project are very fervent and emotional so it’s easy to connect with the song’s message whether or not you directly relate. Stellar production on a number of the tracks as well. A very well-curated project, enthusiastic to listen some more and lock in new favourites. 

Wonu: One thing I love about rap music is how soulful it is in between all the heavy and boisterous production, there’s still some depth to the music and that is always the most important of the music for me. YP knows how to tap into this soulfulness on his projects and ‘YPSZN3’ is not too different. The body of work is easy to listen to and shows off the rapper’s growth in the last year. His infectious lyricism and impeccable creativity shine through the 15 tracks. I’m a bit unhappy with the fact that this is the final instalment of the series but overall, ‘YPSZN3’ is a well-curated body of work. The diversity of the features on the mixtape shows off YP’s range and strength as an artist. With this body of work, the rapper reaffirms his place as one of the leaders of Nigeria’s new wave of rap music.

Emmanuel: In discussions about the new wave of rap in Nigeria, YP’s name is never far away. This particular series holds a lot of history for his acclaim, and it’s only fitting he’s accomplished a trio of them. In a way similar to Show Dem Camp’s ‘PMW 3,’ the rapper allows himself space to explore sonics outside of usual rap. Of course the boisterous drill-laced anthems and slick flows are still present, but the scope of YP’s lyricism broadens considerably farther on this project. I also felt the music was very purposeful in how it carried his thoughts, and on first listen there’s no doubt he’s made a solid project. One or two pop-centric videos off this, and you’ll be seeing PsychoYP in a very different light by the time he’s completing the project run.

Uzoma: Since making his debut in 2016, PsychoYP’s work ethic has kept him in the conversation as one of the leading Hip-Hop acts in Nigeria. For a genre that constantly battles for attention in an Afropop-dominated market, artists like PsychoYP have contributed their quota to ensure that Nigerian Rap music continues to strive. Although tagged as the series finale, ‘YPSZN3’ represents all that we have come to know and love about PsychoYP: a confident rapper with an affinity for Trap bangers. Heavily collaborative like his other projects, this body of work is a reminder (if we ever needed one) that Rap music will not fade away as long as artists like PsychoYP remain.

Listen to ‘YPSZN3’ below.

Featured image credits/Bidemi