Ice Prince is finished as a rapper. Even with his Nursery Rhymes, he can’t go beyond where he stands now. He has nothing else to give us but that monotous beat. Ya-ya-ya-ya! You can argue from wherever you are. It’s your business. It’s my opinion and you can stuff yours where it hurts you.
On April 4, 2014, I travelled to Monrovia for so many reasons. This trip was sponsored by a very generous woman, Teresa Oyibo-Ameh who would support anything good that I am doing. One of the reasons was that Nigerian journalist, Eromo Egbejule was going with me to attend and write on the Sisqo concert (yes, that American guy) and also meet Liberian young stars like Takun J.
That particular concert remains one of the funniest and most childish concerts I’ve ever attended all my life. Standing there in the overly excited Liberian crowd and looking at Sisqo on stage, I burst into laughter. He was monkeying up and down on stage, with his shiny clothes and blings and dyed hair and did what he did many years ago when some of us were kids. This is not just the reason why the Hip Hop culture has conceptually metamorphosed into something that has fallen short of its portrayal. It tries to belie the fact that a cultural revolution is happening. There are many instances that could prompt one to curse the invention of Hip Hop music, which is practically different from afro pop music, as most young artistes confuse it. This is to say, that there are more ways to remain relevant, but you have to be very innovative.
Recently, on my trip to Copenhagen, for a concert, I had read somewhere, in Danish, that Europeans have started recognizing young Nigerian hip hop artistes like Ice Prince as afro beat artistes, which is a totally ignorant thing for any serious minded music critic to say. Ice Prince’s beat, lyrics and rendition of his music will always be amateurish and pinned down to the influence of his American counterparts, the ones they can pay any amount of money to feature on their songs. Assuming that Ice Prince is doing Afrobeat, because he is Nigerian and African is an acutely unintelligent statement and preposterous. Ice Prince’s lyrics do not address anybody. They are lyrics that bump up and down, in nursery rhymes to see if they can match. Some of these lines are totally off-key and don’t make sense.
The beats, too, are just two chords that also just bounce up and down.There is music which can be written about and analysed completely like other intellectual discourses. Unfortunately, Nigerian Hip Hop music is not, and which most people, unfortunately, confuse to be Afrobeat. This is wrong. Afro Pop music, which people like Angelique Kidjo have
continued to pioneer in stylish ways, will continue to boom, but Afro Hip Hop music is the one people tend to grow towards, because it has evolved with a culture that is quite different, hence, people end up singing about themselves, their clothes and money. There is nothing wrong with these things, but what is wrong is making the musicians take
themselves seriously by actually fooling them into believing that they are doing Afrobeat music.
When you have an artiste like Burna Boy wear underpants, which I address last week and going on stage, to perform Hip Hop music, with a slow tone, he begins to see himself as Fela Kuti, as reinventing Afrobeat (to his credit, he calls his music ‘Afrofusion’) This is where madness begins. These young Hip Hop artistes, who should focus on their genre of music, should not think that the slow tempo of the music they are producing suddenly makes it Afrobeat. The whole concept of Afrobeat revolves around a vibrant mix of jazz and highlife to produce a smooth, but not structured music pattern. This is the fact most of them mix up.
Afro beat is like arithmetic. It is like an orchestra. It needs to have a soul. It needs to tell a story in an uncanny way. These are the things Afro Hip Hop artistes with influences from 2Pac actually miss.
If Ice Prince continues in his squashed mediocrity, he will not end up setting up his own ‘record label’ like HarrySong, but he will be a Twitter Warlord and offering opinions up and down like Eedris Abdulkareem. More musicians are going to fail in this era. What they do with their lives after they have failed as musicians and rappers is what matters the more.
But until then, Ice Prince is finished…
ONYEKA NWELUE is a Research Fellow at Center for International Studies, Ohio University. He’s author of _Hip-Hop is Only for Children_