You can invent any personae to drive a message of your creativity to your audience. Ric Hassani does this by employing a poetic bearing on his August 2017 released album, “The African Gentleman”.
On the first track ‘Gentleman’, the singer took a syrupy stance. Modest, kind and loving personality with a time for affection. This is the introduction he chose in the opening. It was the signal to what you will find as you sojourn further inside his mind – a quest for romance. Now hold that thought!
“Baby baby, oh baby baby, my sugar lovie, nobody do me like you”. That was the vent that heralded the next song on the project, ‘Police’.
Hassani brought a breath of intensity to his sweet personality. The one that makes you feel like Nigeria now has its own version of Donnell Jones. He spends the first verse expressing the depth of his love for a female (I hope. The room for one more Smith is closed) but he was not just thinking about his affection. His mind was apparently on the audience. The ones who would subscribe on iTunes to listen to him all week, and not forgetting the ‘get it for free’ bannermen. One major injustice he could have done to them was to go all ‘old Modenine’ on them with some elevated English and esoteric verses. But this beard lover decided to mix things up with a proportionate amount of pidgin. He was simple, sensual and definitely not afraid of the cops.
With ‘Sing’, the following track on the album, Hassani is proving an earlier submission that had him pegged as a ‘Lover boy’. This look like one ladies’ man. The type that will turn back the scouts of Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good and Nia Long combined (pretty women by the way) just to be with one Amaka in Jibowu. The atmosphere on the track rivals the melodious sound of Marvin Records Johnny Drille who packs a mean punch when it concerns songs that makes you feel inadequate if you totally have a zero love life (not me).
Hassani takes us deeper on a romantic themed journey of his 11-track album with ‘Believe’, a reminiscence of the first two tracks ‘Gentleman’ and ‘Police’. This continues down until ‘Number one’, the fifth track where he seemed to have stopped seeking a lover to now appreciating one. You have to own a car to drive one right? (No, you can be a Uber). In ‘Number one’, the singer is enjoying the perks of the romance. The world is looking perfect and he took the soul down to the song ‘Marry you’. Impressive sequence right?
Alternative musicians have the least amount of patronage when compared to the leaders of mainstream music. New artistes in the scantily favored genre have tried to avoid stereotypes so that they can seem appealing to a larger audience. It appeared Hassani was doing so in the jam ‘Beautiful to me’. For the first time on the album, he introduced the fast beat element peculiar to Afropop songsters. You can think again if you thought this singer was all soft. He brought out his bad boy moves with lines like “Finally, give me the whine, scatter the floor, and give it to them”. This one will give female admirers some intrigue on the dance floor. Despite the new spice, he never lost the compass. He stayed glue to course – love!
What better a symbol of love than a mother?
Hassani focused on this affectionate being in a song titled ‘Sweet mother’. One that will melt the heart even if your friends call you Idi Amin. He solicited the help of Mumba Yachel from Zambia who brought the rich Afrique vibe that exemplified the mysterious and glorious sound of Papa Wemba or an Awilo Longomba. This proves my personal theory that Alternative musicians can blend with any type of artiste. The effect will just be like the kind rapper Nas creates when he teams with a Marsha Ambrosius or Chrisette Michelle. Pure bliss!
Guess who went all Flavour on us with his joint ‘Oge na ga’ which had Cabo Snoop, Xcellente and Mr. Nomsy. It featured very fast verses which gave the song an energetic ambience. If you find yourself in one of those long Lagos traffic this should get you home safe and psyched for the tenth track on the album ‘Only you’.
Hassani retracted to ‘Romeo mode’, rendering lines you would normally say if you are the type of lover that likes to remind your partner of how much you love them. Hassani doesn’t care about anything but the depth of his passion. He expressed this on the last track which is sort of like the simplest on the list yet he was able to retain a catchy flow projected through the rasp rhythm of the African drum.
This looks like an album that has delivered everything that represents or explains art in music. It no doubt checks the versatility box. The likes of Mumba Yachel and Cabo Snoop made sure of that. Whatever your view about the future of Alternative sounds and its sub-genres is, it should definitely appear brighter if you are looking at it from “The African Gentleman” side of things.
Each composition on his latest work ooze of sheer excellence, holding promises of better things to come. But the hopeless romantic among his fans will certainly be giving more thumbs to ‘Police’ which can be considered to have the most depth on his latest depository.