Back in 2011, Ice Prince appeared like an exotic rapper who’d seemingly teleported in from the fringes of the galaxy to spread new gift-wrapped music to everyone. The kid from Jos was a hit, who combined rap with a leaning towards pop music.
He was a part of the Chocolate City revolution, and talked up his brand of globalised rap music in a way that was appealingly entertaining. In interviews, he would appear sincere, wear full-flashy gear, and share details of how this is a dream for him. Plus his much-hyped live shows were a theatrical, colourful combination of music and swag all rolled into one emotional dance fest.
The whole thing was audacious, ridiculously fresh and loads of fun, but it worked because of standout Hip-pop singles like ‘Oleku’ and ‘Superstar’, both a refreshing tonic to much of the music of the moment. In all, it far outstripped the success of other existing projects, and added an uncanny realistic concurrence to the album title “Everybody Loves Ice Prince.” But then his second album, 2013’s “Fire Of Zamani”, was a bit uninspired.
So, is it time to restore the magic?
Ice Prince has come a long way in both life and career. His Chocolate City contract expired in 2014, and he has maturely kept up appearances to keep positivity in the air while working on setting up his personal business. This year, he has amicably dissociated his music business from the label that birthed him, officially announced his new imprint, “Super Cool Cats”, and signed on Jilex Anderson, a new act.
On a personal level, he has moved into his house before he clocked 30 years, found a girl that he has publicly sworn to love and defend, and has more than just flyness and music in his sights. Life has new meaning for him, and with his record label work falling squarely on his lap, this just gives him fresh perspective and the will to succeed as an independent artiste.
With this perspective comes freedom and inspiration; the freedom to chase music in a relaxed and expressive atmosphere, devoid of deadlines and label standards. The perspective comes from all his inspiration emanating from his deeply personal space. It is like Ice Prince reborn, with a defined direction, themes, subject matters and sonic balance.
“Jos To The World” is a personal statement from the star, one which captures his growth and quest to take his music from his humble origins, down to the a global stage, where the screams are loudest and the applause rings from all corners of the earth. This is his third album, but in many ways, it is his solo first. There is no Chocolate City on this one. Just Ice Prince, and his dream packaged under a new banner and system.
“Jos To The World”, was born out of the desire to make music in more intimate spaces than he’s used to. You can immediately tell what Zamani’s aims for the record were. This isn’t show Hip-hop with an eye on the lighters-in-the-air crowd. It’s personal, emotional and uplifting, that sounds best when the headphones are on or the speakers are at their loudest. It’s heavier and more piercing than “Fire Of Zamani,” but still has one foot in pop music, making it familiar, complex, and full of finesse.
‘Me Vs Me’ is a gleaming opener, as lush drum patterns and minimalist instrumentation pierce through solid lyrical foundations. Immediately Ice Prince delves into the elements of the album; freedom, happiness and love. A much wiser Ice Prince reflects on the most important things in life, such as love and happiness.
He personalizes this theme and touches on his experiences with the glamorous life that he has seemingly become disillusioned with, while enjoying at the same time. There’s a huge dose of this on ‘2AM in Chevron’, a song that was inspired by his movement into his new self-owned mansion. Thanksgiving and aspirational rap is appealing on the Dice Ailes-assisted Trap monster song, ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Trillions’, which features Phyno. ‘Looking at you’, ‘Playlist’, and ‘Want it all’, has Ice Prince rapping in abandon, and genuinely enjoying Hip-hop.
But it’s not a sound that continues throughout the record. By 10th track ‘Day 1’, Ice have moved into much pop-ey, dancey territory. ‘Na we dey run the town, na we dey run the city’, Koker declares, his voice rich with excitement, as everything shifts into a muscular, overwhelming dance fiesta.
“Jos To The World,” was recorded with a 12 people in the producer’s chair and there are rumbles of different styles throughout. ‘Boss’ is full of sexy, snarling swagger and ‘Excellency’ zips by on a wave of thundering synths. Elsewhere there are hints of Highlife (‘No be today’) and even dancehall (‘Belinda,’ ‘For Yah’), all proving that Ice Prince has plenty of ideas and invention to offer outside of Chocolate City.
Ice Prince strikes out for the first time on his own, and utilises this independence to make music that he is proud of, and has enough for everyone to connect, dissect, enjoy and take home with them.