Lagos — This time last year, Ice Prince could not strike a familiar chord among Nigerian music lovers. He was not even half as popular as he is now. But this month, his name is now on everybody's lip when hip-hop music is the subject matter.
Things changed when his banging hit, 'Oleku' hit the airwaves late last year, and he has gone on to become the artiste several Nigerians would like to watch perform. But for Ice Prince, the road was farther and rougher than the manner in which it is captured in this piece, and there would have been many times that the challenges would have seemed really more visible than the prospects. Born Panshak Zamani, Ice Prince grew up in Jos, Plateau State, where his talent, as a fantastic rapper, got him a lot of attention even in his secondary school days up till his emergence as the winner of Hennesy Artistry in 2009.
To have a full grasp of the talent of the young rapper, born in Niger State and bred in the Tin City of Jos, it would be succinct to take into consideration the enormous talents of artistes he contested with - the likes of Bez, Mo' Cheddah, Blaise and Jimmy Flames - but he has gone on to have collaborations with many of the big names in the industry.
In this category of stars are YQ, Eldee, Naeto C, Nneka, Kel, Gino, Banky W, and Djinee among others but it was the release of the single 'O le ku' in 2010 that registered him in the minds of many. The song, featuring Brymo, stands up there with Naeto C's '10 Over 10,' 'Only Me' by 2face, D Banj's 'Scapegoat' and others as the best songs for 2010. A few days ago, the news was rife that the highly anticipated video for the equally celebrated single, 'O le ku', has been released but this, according to the camp of Ice Prince, is a most disturbing development for them right now. As such, there is a need to let the people know so that they are not misled; although they are working hard on getting the real video, which will be out soon.
"The original video is not out yet; that is the unfinished version and initially, that is the same unfinished version that we rejected, owing to the fact that we felt it is not good enough for the kind of visual projection we want for the popular song," Ice Prince said.
According to him, the generality of hip hop followers who are eagerly waiting for the video to be released, will not have to wait for long because the date is closer than they think. For the rough cut of the video, which is rejected by the team of the rapper to have found its way to the Internet looks like a mischievous prank by the director but when Saturday Independent sought to know if he was responsible for the leaked video, the man who responded in place of Ice Prince, said it was not clear who to blame.
"We are not saying the person who was saddled with the responsibility of shooting the video for us is the one responsible for the leaked video, because the truth of the matter is that we don't know. We had already carried out a re-shoot for the video because it was leaked online. It was just that we shot the first version, it was not finished yet, as at the time, but we did not like what we were seeing and so we had to stop it. That necessitated another shoot and we did the re-shoot and that was supposed to come out early but because we wanted to give it the best touches and put it in the best of shape to match up to the song, it was delayed a bit. So it was while we were in the process of doing this that it leaked and as much as we don't know how it happened, it has to be emphasised again that it is not the final version that got leaked on the Internet and that is due out in days," he said.
Although 'Ole ku' is not Ice Prince's first effort to hit the airwaves, as he had already released a single titled 'Extraordinary' sometime in 2004 and another called 'Rewind', which came later in 2009, none of the two achieved as much as the massive attention enjoyed by the latest.
But in Nigeria, when you do a song that gets everyone interested in being in it, there are consequences that come with the cash, the fame and fortune which one is sure to get.
"The other song, 'O le ku' is not a remix of the original 'O le ku' song by Ice Prince, it belongs to Vector and it s also titled 'O le ku'. He just went and did his own version, of which 'O le ku' is Ice Prince's song and nobody knew about it until it surfaced. This brings up the copyright issues of course but we are not taking it up because Vector came to apologise for the error and as well took the said song off air, not just because he is a friend of the house." For a brother who is said to have become a man at the age of 14 when his father left for the other side of existence, leaving him to cope with the stinging realities of life and trying to care for his mother and two sisters, Ice Prince is powering on like a determined soldier. This is demonstrated in his song, in which he features Brymo, another fresh voice adding to the street credibility of Chocolate City as a label and the Choc Boyz as a unit. For one's song to be loved so much that fans at an event as big as the MTV Africa Music Awards to say they missed having the artiste on stage, Ice Prince is just taking it all in his stride. The largely heartwarming acceptance of his song may be a surprise, owing to mountain of expectations built by the impressive debut of label mates and early risers, MI and Jesse Jagz, but for him, the party has just begun.