This life is unfair. Without doing anything, I watched Ric Hassani steal someone's girlfriend.
“I love Ric Hassani’s music, he is one of the artists that I can listen to objectively.”
These were the words of producer and sound engineer Big Foot, who was explaining to me why he cared about Ric Hassani. It was a Wednesday evening in the high brow area of Victoria Island, and the two of us had met up at Eve’s Restaurant.
Ric Hassani had invited us both for his album listening party, a celebration of his hard work and persistence to create a project in his image. Outside the restaurant, an alcoholic brand had set up a pre-concert bar and stage where we were handed free red cups of cocktails and the industry was packed.
“I love the fact that Ric Hassani could do this,” Big Foot continued. “Putting this project forward is brave and I respect him for it.”
All around us were people drawn from the music industry. Press, label executives, scouts, industry aficionados, enthusiasts, and artists. The musicians were everywhere, sheparded by their mangers and handlers who made them network with everyone. This is the way the industry renforces itself. Events like these bring people from the confines of their studios and their offices into a common physical space. And in these safe spaces, dreams are shared, deals are struck, and collaborations are born.
But this was different. It was a different crowd, with music tastemakers drawn from people who were focused on alternative sounds. Usually, these sort of events aren’t big deal. Alternative artists rarely ever pull this sort of crowd. There were over 300 people in that venue, everyone genuinely wanted to listen to Ric Hassani, and they waited impatiently for the chance to do so.
Ric Hassani garnered industry attention in 2016. His single ‘Gentleman’ was a speculative hit, winning him the hearts and respect of the industry. He represents the side of the industry that people aspire to connect with; calm, content-driven and soothing. Couple that with his genuine, gentle persona, and you have an angel which everyone loved.
“When will this event start?” Ogagus Sakpaide asked. He is the barrel-chested publicist for Yemi Alade, and a talent manager for emerging singer Squeeze Tarela.
“I don’t know oh,” I responded. “Maybe after everyone gets high from this good cocktails.”
Singer Tjan walked by and shared a smile and a shoulder hug with me. He was featured on the new album, and also billed to perform. At the corner, TVC, MTV, HipTV and AfricaMagic were on hand. Bez, rocking his usual smile, a hat and his glasses, walked past into the venue. Guitarist and singer Femileye, spotted me and we walked to each other hugging and discussing his next project.
Ric Hassani’s “The African Gentleman” is a great project. Ric Hassani deftly blends soulful vocals on Pop music progressions, with local African percussion instruments like the ‘Log Drum’ (or Krin) and the Shaker more popularly known as the “Shekere”, acoustic instruments, and string orchestra instruments like the violin, viola, cello, double bass, and Flute. A balanced mixture of soulful love tunes like 'Gentleman' and "Marry You", to uptempo African dance music like “Oge na ga” and "Sweet Mother", the album shows off Hassani’s versatility while maintaining his unique soulful appeal, and his stunning emotive power.
Perhaps it is that emotion that makes people connect deeply with him. But they did, and waited their time for the event to eventually start. It finally did, after many hours of a long wait.
“Let’s go in, I can’t wait for him to perform, I love him so much!” I overheard a slender pretty lady tell her date for the evening. I turned around to see her companion with a resigned look on his face.
Deep down in his heart he could see it coming. I watched as he reluctantly followed the lady who excitedly climbed the staircase into the venue. He shook his head slightly to avoid detection. But I saw it. And no matter how much he wishes it not to happen, this is the night he loses his girlfriend to Ric Hassani.
This life is unfair.