Words by Miki Hellerbach
With liquor fuelling some of the tracks on YCee’s Love Drunk it was only right to get him to suggest the accompanying beverages to each track.
YCee was going through it over the past year to two between his last project and this one he just released. The Nigerian crooner/rapper was intoxicated with love lost and found, while also being swept up in the political climate of his country. While cycling through difficult romantic relationships and pandemic separations, YCee was also on the ground during the urgency of the End SARS movement in Nigeria and even stood at the front of a protest in his hometown. While all of this was a lot to process he has seemed to emerge from it all with a pure sense of focus on where his artistic efforts need to lie.
YCee constantly feels a need to cater to his core rap fans from the beginning of his career, but his fans of his Afrobeats/Amapiano/R&B style sung songs are as he says, “the ones that keep the lights on, honestly.” So with this first full release of 2021, Love Drunk EP, he’s sonically shooting his shot directly at them. While he says Lil Wayne is who made him want to start rapping, YCee credits a combination of Drake and WizKid with inspiring him to make a foray into melodies. The bringing of a commercial sound into Afrobeats from Drake, and WizKid doing the same in the opposite direction equally showed YCee the path for his tone. It’s almost like he’s inspired by how each of their styles work when they cross each other as they are two sides of the same coin.
The amalgamation of his core influence, musically and emotionally, combusted into these seven tracks which tap into a reactive, in the moment contemplation. The sound of Love Drunk purposefully feels a bit hazy, yet succinctly concentrated at the same time. It mirrors a slightly drunken epiphany. Thus, I thought it would be fun to ask YCee for the best liquor based accompaniment to each song to get a deeper sense of their story and meaning.
His answers below are edited slightly for clarity.
Track 1: “Anymore”
Drink: Shots of Hennessy
“That was one of the first songs I recorded for the tape fresh out of a breakup from a long term relationship. It was one of those scenarios where it was really just my fault. Me being the architect of my own misfortune. For that period, I used to just go from drinking all day in the studio and recording a bit, to my friends saying I needed some fresh air. So I’d go to a bar and keep drinking then go back into the studio. I’d wake up the next day and be like, “I don’t know when I made this song.” It was me in the deepest part of the heartbreak. I actually made that song with the mind to send that song to shawty. Trust me it didn’t change anything. So for “Anymore” it would be multiple shots of Hennessy straight. It’s like when you’re out and every song sounds like your favourite song but when you’re on the way back home you realize you’re still lonely. That’s me in that space. The first three songs deal with separation issues.”
Track 2: “Abeg”
Drink: Classic Margarita (with an extra shot)
““Abeg” is a word that means “please,” and it was inspired by a relationship with someone where we understood the chemistry but she wasn’t my girlfriend and I wasn’t her boyfriend. We had a certain arrangement where you don’t ask what’s going on but somewhere along the line feelings got involved. It moved from no strings attached to shawty tryna get all up in my business. I was cool with just being a sneaky link, but she wanted more than that. I had to draw the line and say tying me down was not really gonna work out. So “Abeg” would be like a nice classic margarita with some extra shots of alcohol so it gets you there but doesn’t take you all the way. It’s like you get the margarita and then when you get the text and you’re like let me get an extra shot to put in.”
Track 3: “My Ways” (feat. DwillsHarmony)
Drink: Whiskey Sour
“I feel like that’s one song where I opened up on some personal issues. People haven’t caught on because I haven’t really pointed it out but there’s a part in the verse where I go, “Had a dream last night, I bore some kids/ Real-life see what that abortion did.” It’s about a lot of stuff that happened over the years that just puts a big question mark on how you go from being somebody’s favourite person to all of a sudden you don’t even have this person’s number saved in your phone anymore. Shit just changed.
Big shouts DwillsHarmony, he’s a major talent. My first big record “Jagaban,” which came out in 2015, was produced by him. This was a great way to share my platform with someone I really respect.
I’d say “My Ways” is a whiskey sour, and that’s actually my favourite cocktail. I don’t go a week without drinking at least two. It’s the perfect blend of bitter and sweet. “My Ways” is actually my favourite song on the project. Initially, I didn’t think I was gonna take the vulnerable route because when it comes to making Afrobeat music, especially when you make the blend with R&B, there’s not that many male artists that sing about something that doesn’t have to do with wooing a girl and telling her how much you love her.
Actually touching on real issues was something in the past year I was really able to open up about. As men, especially in this part of the world, you’re told you don’t wanna be too vulnerable because people mistake it for weakness. I was able to speak on that more in the past year and it started to rub off in my music. A lot of the therapist practitioners down here are just looking for another paycheck so I’d rather go in the studio and voice out whatever is bugging me on a beat to let it all go.”
Track 4: “Intentionally”
Drink: Piña Colada
“That was the first song I recorded this year after a very lengthy creative block. It was crazy for me because I’m the type of artist no matter who I’m working with when I get in the studio I must get something done. I went from that to 3 months of nothing sounding like I wanted it to sound, to having a session with the producer Smiley who produced the bulk of the project.
As soon as I heard this beat I was like, “Oh this is different.” It felt really summery and vibey. I just went in and it was a very relieving moment. I was questioning my talent and when I made “Intentionally” I was like, “yeah I still got it.” It was so “feel good” because it came at a time I really needed it. I have a bunch of female friends I use as subjects that when I make a song like that I’ll send it to them to get an opinion from the opposite gender. That stuck with them they said because they are always talking about how they want their men to be intentional. I was like, “say less, it’s going on the EP.” I think for “Intentionally” it would be a nice Piña Colada on a sunny day.”
Track 5: “West Indies”
Drink: Tequila Shots
“It’s so crazy how this song actually got on the tape because we had a different song on the initial pre-save that came out. We were having the craziest back and forth with the producer with that other record and it was just dragging. It’s actually recent that Nigerian producers are getting educated on what should come to them as a producer. Without them, it’s just an acapella so we need them. But in this case, the back and forth was just dragging too long and I didn’t have time.
So we just looked in the archives to see what song we could switch. Initially, I said we could take the GuiltyBeatz song. We linked in July or August and had just one session and created just one song, which was “West Indies”. In the session, I’d said it was a really good song but with the timeline we had already mixed and mastered the project. When that situation happened I just had my team reach out to his team and he ended up sending a final one with a sax on the chorus and other elements.
When I listened to it I was like, “it’s definitely going on.” It was the last song I put on the tape and when I went out last week people were asking me when the video was coming out. It shows how crazy music can really get. The universe tells you what path you should really go. For “West Indies” I’d say you should take three Tequila shots right before the first chorus ends. So then by the rest of the song you are in that space. I drink a lot, man.”
Track 6: “Nu Riddim”
Drink: Long Island Iced Tea
“That was the first song I made with Smiley. I like someone who pushes my craft and challenges me creatively. One of my friends told me he had this producer guy I needed to work with, and because of who was vouching for him I gave him a chance. I pulled up to the studio and every beat he played was fire. He’s this little guy who doesn’t drink or smoke but does madness on the laptop.
“Nu Riddim” was the first single I dropped this year and set the tone for how I was gonna be taking my sound. With that one, I would go for a Long Island [Iced Tea] because it’s one of the most popular cocktails in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s one where, to be on the safe side, if you’re trying a new bar you get a, as I would call it, Strong Island. “Nu Riddim” would go great with that.”
Track 7: “Aunty Lovina” (feat. Patoranking)
Drink: Vodka on Ice
“This is the one song that deviates from the feel of the project sonically. When I pulled up on Pato in the studio, who has been a good friend since 2014, and played him the songs from the EP he was like, “these are cool and smooth but you need something hard for the clubs.” You need something like that because we love to party in Lagos.
He’d already started working on this song before I got there and when I listened to what he had I was like, “I’m definitely not gonna pass up on this.” I got in my zone and did what I had to do. It’s been banging when I go out and it comes on. I think for that one, I don’t really drink Vodka, but I’d advise someone who drinks it to drink some to it. That’s like the party starter where you don’t really feel anything but you feel the music. Maybe some Vodka with a little ice, yeah. But I wouldn’t drink it cuz I feel like that’s my kryptonite.”