Even in a competitive industry where the audience has a short attention span, it's easy to root for YCee. You don't even need boobs for that. He's a likeable guy whose talent has always been obvious.

When he had his label issues, people supported him. Even when Tinny Entertainment could have been right for posting two songs scheduled to be on his album, people didn't care. His aura is infectious and in person, he is calm and collected. On this day, he swaggered in on a white shirt, ripped jeans and a pair of sneakers.

The dreads he visibly wore days before at his listening party had been shaved off. He also came in with two of his friends. In most interviews these days, people come to Pulse with some type of emotion.

YCeevsZaheer and reaction to criticism

The review for his album, YCeeVsZaheer dropped some hours earlier - it wasn't that good. However, YCee didn't feel some type of way.

He was as calm as an ocean, picked his words with care and found calm breath almost compulsively. Even when he had to wait to sort a technical glitch, his demeanour shared close ties with a nightly lake. He was also quite shorter than he ordinarily looks.

YCee visits Pulse and talks about 'YCeeVsZaheer,' Tinny Entertainment, ANBT and other issues. (Pulse Nigeria)
YCee visits Pulse and talks about 'YCeeVsZaheer,' Tinny Entertainment, ANBT and other issues. (Pulse Nigeria)

When conversation reached his new album, he said, "I understand your reservations. I also understand that my music is not for everybody. However, I get your argument about the dynamics. We artists need to understand that sometimes reviews will be good and sometimes they will be bad. There's no need to block anybody somewhere. Life is not that hard."

"That's one thing about myself and criticism. I'm always open to it. I'm always taking all comments on board, so that I can better in the future."

When questioned on why he feels creatives are very reluctant to accept criticism, YCee says that, "Personally, I'm very stubborn. I always find a way to do what I really want to do. I think it's about the work that goes into creative outputs. I think a lot of my colleagues don't understand that everybody won't like your music. Music varies.

"Find out why people who don't like your music have that emotion and work on it. Dislike for your music isn't hate, neither is it final judgement that the music is bad. It could just be about very subjective emotional reaction. The first time I performed 'Jagaban' that changed my life at a Lauryn Hill concert, someone came online and bashed it.

"I then doubted the song, but it blew up. So I understand that people are different. You can't kill yourself or people when they don't like your s***"

Things got a kick up the backside and the room found more and more reasons to laugh. This was towards the end of the conversation. But to every conversation, there is a start...

First Wave to Leaking of Songs

The start was about 'First Wave EP,' 'Late Night Vibrations EP,' rapping less, the reason he left Tinny Entertainment, coming back into music, and more.

He also talked about why Tinny Entertainment 'leaked' his songs as well as other issues. You can watch YCee talk about those things here;

YCee: The Balance of acts

Earlier in the year, YCee spazzed like a radio full of words on 'Balance.' He rumbled and swayed on a song that eventually got a Lyricist on the Roll nod at Headies 2019. It was the greatest representation of YCee's second side.

It was also like putting two children on two ends of a seesaw. It was the veritable balancing of acts that we needed; one side for singing YCee and the other for Zaheer, the rapper. Asides that, it was a timely reminder that the guy who used to released bi-weekly mixtapes during his University of Lagos still lives.

It starts with, "You know I've been hot for at least four summers and you know what that means - it's been all burners." The only problem is that he didn't release a project with that energy. Speaking on it, he says, "I felt like the disrespect was getting too much from social media users. I used to put out a lot of rap records and even did a weekly series called, The Declaration.

YCee visits Pulse and talks about 'YCeeVsZaheer,' Tinny Entertainment, ANBT and other issues. (Pulse Nigeria)
YCee visits Pulse and talks about 'YCeeVsZaheer,' Tinny Entertainment, ANBT and other issues. (Pulse Nigeria)

"I used to put out a lot of covers, conscious music and all that. When I got commercial success, and I was like 'Na here we go die o (laughs),' people who were unaware of my rap roots got angsty about why people would call me a rapper. At one point, someone said, 'Mayorkun has more bars than YCee.' I was like, 'See my life outside (laughs).'

"I was in the studio when ELMORE made the beat, so I felt like really rapping. In like two hours, I laid it down. Someone came into the studio and was like, 'Who vex you?' Then in January, my birthday was on the 29th. We shot the video in December - one of those situations where you have equipment and funds.

"In January, I felt like putting it out to shut people up. Then, people started saying they want more. So, I decided that I was going to put out two projects in 2020; one for Hip-Hop and the other for toned down rap."

However, YCee says he was surprised by the reception the song got.


YCEE vs Zaheer Cover Art. (ANBT)
YCEE vs Zaheer Cover Art. (ANBT)

The album should have dropped in 2018. But YCee had to deal with leaving his label, post-production and two leaks by his former label. Mixing and mastering - which YCee is particular about - also took a long time.

On that, he says, "The album was ready, but due to the process of me leaving my previous employers, I had to take some time off releasing music to deal with leaving that label. For all creatives, your mental space is your office. On my former label, I wasn't making music like myself, so I checked out in July 2018."

When he came back to make music, the first song he recorded was 'My Side.' But before other songs were recorded for YCee Vs Zaheer, there was one song titled 'Dakun' - the oldest song recorded for the album.

YCee tells a story "The funny thing about 'Dakun' is that there's actually an older video. In 2017, I had a show in Cyprus. We were there for some days, so we shot a video with no charge. It was meant to be a viral video, but when we saw the end product, we were like, 'Omo, this is good o.'

"We presented it to the label and there were problems clearing the song because Krizbeatz, the song's producer wrote its hook. I was initially reluctant to get his take on the hook, but when I listened, it was good. It was the first time someone wrote for me and now, he's a credited writer on the deal with a deal signed."

YCee: The Ignorance of Nigerian producers

YCee appreciates every producer he worked with on YCeevsZaheer, but he bemoaned how Nigerian producers are still ignorant about royalties and publishing. He claims he's still learning things about publishing and mechanical rights, but says that Nigerian producers have a lot to learn.

He says, "What we need is education. A lot of people with this knowledge just like hoarding it for whatever reason. Sometimes, some artists list themselves as producers on their own records and it could be because a producer doesn't know about publishing - which is for life.

"There's a lot of education and unlearning that we need to do. Things are changing. When I was making my album, it was about payments, split sheets and/or quid pro quo - I could offer to do free songs for the producer."

YCee loves love and says that contrary to some beliefs, he believes in God. At the time of the interview, he was listening to Joeboy, Peruzzi, grandson, Psycho YP, Alpha, Davido, G-Eazy and Scary Nights.

He also says that seeing people download music from music blogs is disheartening. He says that he hopes that one day, all music blogs would disappear with a Thanos snap.