More Than A Rookie: An Interview With YCee

YCee is the Lagos-born rapper and songwriter who made the Nigerian music scene wake up and listen, when we he released his edgy street anthem ‘Jagaban’ in 2015. Recently crowned ‘Rookie of the Year’ by one of the nation’s most prestigious award shows, and all without a debut EP and album,  YCee is predicted to make waves over the coming months. Verbal Vixen caught up with YCee on his recent trip to London…

VV: Let’s get straight into it. How would you describe your sound in three words?

YCee: Versatile, different and addictive.

VV: I’m intrigued to know where your name came from.

YCee: It started out just being a nickname, Young Crack but when I got signed my label Tinny Entertainment were like it was a name people probably wouldn’t want to associate with, so I had to change YC to Yung Carter. Carter stands for Crazy Advanced Rapper Terrorizing Every Other Rapper and then because there are a lot of YCs out there I added the extra “E”s to differentiate myself.

VV: How did that gritty “Jagaban” sound come about? I like to call it Afro-trap.

YCee: The main inspiration was that I had to put out a dope ass song and at the same time make people know that I was actually home based. That was the first thing I had in mind. That’s what inspired the part in the chorus where I was like “Omo wan ti mope omo Yoruba ni”. It made people know I was Nigerian. I just wanted to put out a mad record that year. The producer DWILL is pretty much unknown to everyone and I was coming off a single that featured Patoranking and a lot of people were saying he helped the song, so I also had to prove myself.

VV: You recently picked up the much-coveted ‘Rookie of The Year’ at The Headies. What’s changed since you’ve won the award?

YCee: There’s a brand that’s beginning to form and I pretty much see my fan base growing everyday, support online and people actually anticipating what I’m going to put out. People actually saying that I believe in YCee as a fan. It goes to show that the work we’ve been putting in is beginning to reap dividends. Right now it’s for me to put in the work so that it doesn’t look like I’m a flash in the pan or a one hit wonder.

VV: Who would you say is your biggest competition right now?

YCee: I haven’t really thought about that. I’ve been so into the music, I haven’t been looking at what everyone else is doing. Right now, I see my biggest competition as myself. I’m the only one who can stop me from doing what I’m doing. I think that most people need to see that you’re not in competition with the next man, you’re actually in competition with yourself ’cause you find yourself trying to be better at a pace that might not be conducive for you. I’m also trying to be the same humble person and keep the same relationships I have.

VV: You’re from Festac, Lagos. I hung out in the clubs there last December and when “Jagaban” gets played, it really goes off in the club. It’s real out there, so how has the hood reacted to your success?

YCee: It’s been wonderful. I went from that kid who most people thought was wasting their time doing music and now that I’m attaining a certain level of success they can now come out and say he’s from our community, he’s our own. It’s really good when people where you’re from are behind you and proud of you. That just goes to show you’ve made the right decision. As a young artist in the industry after one, two, three, four years and you haven’t attained a certain level of success you begin to question yourself if you’ve made the right decision. It’s also a driving force.

VV: Now that you’ve hit the big time, as an artist you get to have a rider. What things do you demand or can’t be without?

YCee: [laughs] First of all plenty of internet ’cause I’m always on Snapchat, I always need to let people know what’s happening. Hopefully a studio session should be set up. Wherever I like to go I like to tap into what the music scene is like. So if they could get a producer or someone I could work with musically that would be great. Then, the rider for the club is different, that’s a turn up so I can’t say too much, but definitely alcohol [laughs]. In general, my rider would just be like chocolate, sweet stuff, video games and entertainment.

VV: It’s cliche but I’ve got to ask. If you could collab with any artist home and abroad, who would you like to link up with?

YCee: Wizkid, Drake, 2Face, Kanye West, Asa, G-Eazy.

VV: Tell me one thing that we don’t already know about YCee?

YCee: To be honest, I think I’ve pretty much put everything out there so nobody has anything against me. Ummm. I’m a very good footballer. If I wasn’t doing music I probably would have gone to a football academy but music just stole my heart.

YCee’s latest single ‘Omo Alhaji’ is out now on iTunes.