Ric Hassani’s debut project The African Gentleman is the typical Nigerian song.
It begins the way it is supposed to begin. It reaches a peak. It has a repetitive chorus that makes the song the song itself. It is beautiful. It is imperfect.
The African Gentleman is a whole project about the same message, laced over different guitar melodies that somehow makes monotony beautiful.
The 18-track project is carefully curated, from the lyrics to the collaborations. M.I., Yung L, Tay Grin, TJan, Johnny Drille, Sonyezo, Xcellente, Mr. Nomsy and Cabo Snoop make appearances, bringing their personal nuances and gifting the sound with an edge, various edges actually.
Released under RiverLand Records/Inglemind, Hassani’s debut is reminiscent of 2003 pop when Styl Plus’ Olufunmi ruled the airwaves. While some singles will make you dance, the album is an experience built around the strong vocals of Ric Hassani and the message he has chosen to tell.
Starting out with the initially released Gentleman, one could be forgiven for assuming the project could be credited to the British singer, Craig Davids. Simplistic in its delivery, this song sets the tone for the rest of the album. A minimalist approach is applied, blending in what is known as the ‘South African’ sound. The entire record makes a subtle argument, that music isn’t static but an amalgamation of sounds and influences aimed straight for the soul.
Oge Na Ga differs from the record’s singular sound and is a testament to the versatility of the talented musician. Maneuvering the Igbo folk sound while featuring Cabo Snoop, Xcellente & Mr. Nomsy, this dance song is the biggest winner on the project.
For a debut disc, Ric Hassani has done beautifully. In every song, even those with heavyweight guests like MI and Yung L, that could easily have overshadowed his work, Hassani maintains a strong presence by delivering standout hooks.
The African Gentleman is a story of consistent, impressive growth from the days of Rico Slim, to the mature and well-grounded Ric Hassani.
It is a transformation that is almost complete.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin