Interview: Ric Hassani Wants to Remind You Nigerian Music Is More Than Afrobeats

The singer recounts his pursuit for relatability through his latest album, The Prince I Became, which features appearances from Nicky Jam, Sauti Sol, Kuami Eugene, and more.

"Pop-soul is my strong suit. It's one sound I can kill even in my sleep." Ric Hassani marks this as his reason for betting on the sound after ditching rap under the moniker Rico Slim—despite being aware of Nigerians' indisposition to music with unpronounced 'Afro-' elements. Buoyed by his titillating vocals, introspective lyricism and Ankara-corporate statement of fashion, the Port Harcourt-born singer & songwriter defies the clichéd constructs expected of Nigerian male artists.

Born Ikechukwu Eric Ahiauzu, to a family of academics with both parents being professors, Hassani's unwavering passion for music triggered his independent journey following a bout of skepticism from potential investors and labels, including Sony, who thought he wasn't 'popular' or 'Afro-poppy' enough. In 2015, Hassani struck gold with "Gentleman," followed by his debut album, African Gentleman which houses records like "Believe" alongside Olamide & Falz and "Only You," the singer's gateway to global acclaim. According to Hassani, "the success of 'Only You' was validating because I went through a terrible phase to record that album." The song has since been delivered in Portuguese, Spanish, French by artists from those regions. Subsequently, Hassani has kept pace on charts and at concerts across Malawi, Mauritius, Honduras, Louisiana, St Lucia, and more.

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