by Wilfred Okiche
Ice Prince Zamani is on a roll, has been for about two years now. After the success of his debut single ‘Oleku’, he churned out one hit single after the next and has to the surprise of many become one of the country’s biggest music exports. This is evident in his recent triumph at the BET music awards and his string of collaborations with international artistes.
He has just entered the second phase of his career with the release of his sophomore album, more hit singles and an album launch concert billed for sometime this month. Indeed everybody loves Ice Prince.
We asked him a couple of questions and he was gracious enough to provide answers.
Your new disc has an interesting title, ‘Fire of Zamani?’, what’s burning you up?
I titled it ‘Fire Of Zamani’ because that was the direction I wanted to go with the music in terms of how much I wanted to push myself to work.
Tell us a bit about the process that went into creating the sound for the disc…
It took us about a year to put everything together. My producers, Chopstix, Sammy Gyang and I spent nights in the studio and we made close to 70 ideas down for the album. On some songs we had extra producers like Don Jazzy, E Kelly, Jay Sleek. We worked on each song a lot of times before we found the perfect sound we wanted for the album.
You have a concert coming up, on the 25th of November I believe. What should we know about it and why should we be thrilled?
The concert is the official launch for the Fire of Zamani album. It’s going to be exciting because I will be performing tracks that I’ve never performed before in my life plus I have some of the features on the album like Wale, Chip, MI, Olamide, Yung El, Burna Boi, Ruby, Jeremiah Gyang and Sunny Neji supporting me that night so it will definitely be worth it.
In what ways have you grown as an artiste and a human being since your first record?
I don’t sag too much anymore and I don’t chase girls like I used to (laughs). Seriously, I am older now and I understand life a bit better than before. As an artiste, I have more fans now than I when I made my first record.
You scored a collaboration with American rapper, French Montana on FOZ and you have worked with Wale. How did this come about?
I met Wale at the BET awards 2012 for the first time and he was quite welcoming. When we met again at the 2013 BET Awards, the conversation started from there. With French, I met him in Baltimore. He came to do a show and I was there for a show too, mutual friends introduced us and we got in the studio the next day.
Were there artistes you wanted to work with that did not make the final cut of the album?
I wanted to make Stars and Lights with Bruno Mars but it never happened.
Let me ask you this, are you a rapper who sings or a singer who raps?
I am a musician. I rap and I sing and sometimes I MC .
You have been gradually embracing a pop sound for your music. Is this deliberate?
I did not recently embrace a pop sound. I’ve always made the same music I make now. You can check some of my old stuff on YouTube. It was and still is about the melody and the music. I never changed my sound in any way. I just make Ice Prince music!
You have been called the most commercially successful rap artiste, how do you straddle the line between art and commerce?
I have never said to anyone that I want to deliberately make a particular sound. I make music that comes to me. ‘Aboki’ is an entirely different song from ‘More’ and different from ‘Truth’ and different from ‘Juju’ and different from ‘N word’ and different from ‘Person Wey Sabi’. I can go on but like I said, I make what I’m inspired to make when I’m the studio whether it comes out as commercial or hard core.
Is there still a relationship between you, Brymo and Jesse Jagz? What is it like?
Yes, there is a relationship and they are Fam all day!
What factors would you attribute as responsible for your success?
God and honesty
What does winning the BET Award mean to you?
It means growth is inevitable and anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it.
You have been with Chocolate City for some time now, what should artistes do to avoid big label/producer problems and what should record labels be doing on their part?
Both parties need to be honest with themselves, there’s no problem in the world that dialogue won’t solve. So in the case of disagreements I suggest honest and true dialogue.
When you put out Oleku, did you foresee the journey leading you this far?
No, I did not. God just did it.