Babajide Awoyinfa Next To Blow

NEXT TO BLOW: My Music Is About Change –RIC HASSANI

Friday, December 07, 2012Omobaswagz H

Written By Babajide Awoyinfa
He was formerly and more popularly known as Rico Slim. Now he goes by the stage name Ric Hassani, otherwisely known as R.I.C. From his name to his music, he is change personified. And for good reasons too -“Rico Slim was when I was the geeky kid in school every one teased…but I’m grown now, and I know who I am to become,” he explains in his recent tweet. 

R.I.C., whose career highlights included performances at Julius Agwu’s Laff 4 Christ’s Sake 2009 and Covenant University Awards 2009, is into everything entertainment, including modeling and designing. The Rivers State-born, but Lagos-based artiste demonstrated versatility in his previous singles; but his new Sagzy Selexion-produced single, “Hello” - a synthesis of sunshine-spewing production, love-laced lyrics and melody-heavy tune - gives a new perspective to the Afro Pop genre.  In this encounter, RIC gives the lowdown about his musical self. Excerpts.

What are the reasons behind your sudden change of stage name?
Whatever position you find yourself in life, it is always important to pause for a second, reflect about where you are, think about where you want to be, and then start making plans towards it. That was really what happened. For me, the name change was the beginning of my growth and maturity, not just in my art, but as a human being. My fans, those who have been with me since my university days, would understand the transition. Of course, there are other fans who’d still criticize me. It’s fine. It just helps to create a balance. I am really excited about this transition and the new brand I’m maturing into.

How did you come about your first stage name “Rico Slim”? 
Rico Slim started way back in secondary school. My real name is Eric. I started rapping in school and my friends tried to add some “swag” to my name, so they started calling me “Erico” at first. Then I used to eat a lot, but never got fat. I even got thinner, so they added “slim” to my name. From Erico, it became “Rico Slim”.

Tell us about yourself?
My name Eric Ahiauzu. My stage name is Ric Hassani.  I’m an artist. I love making beautiful music for people to listen to and enjoy. I am 23 years of age.  I just graduated from University of Surrey where I did my MSc in Energy Economics and Policy. For my undergraduate studies, I attended Covenant University, Sango-Ota, Ogun State. I am from a family of five, two boys and three girls. I am the last child. Most of my cousins that I knew of when I was young were girls, so I grew up with a lot of girls. I believe in God.

How did you start musically?
I remember being in the church classical choir. I used to sing soprano then, when I was about nine years old.  I did that for about four years. It was fun. That really shaped me, musically - learning all the sound notes and how to harmonize. My dad was and is still a massive fan of classical music. We had all the CDs. A lot of classical music. This really molded my foundation in music.

Looking back at your early childhood, what song do you remember most as a child?
Madonna’s “Take A Bow.” We had a channel that was always playing back that song. Anytime I hear that song, it inspired me.

What type of music did you hear the most back then when you were growing up? 

My sister was a great fan of Whitney Houston, Maria Carey, Aliyaah, Brandy, Brian McKnight, and Boyz II Men - a lot of R&B, and, of course, classical music.

What was the first song that you ever sang? 
The first song I sang to my friends in my first year at junior secondary school was “I Know”. I wrote the song and it was great to the ears of my mates in school. My friends would ask me to sing it again anytime the teacher left the class. That was where my fan based started.

What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I never thought I would have a career in music. I just used to sing for fun. It was early last year I became serious with music. My family is excessively academic. So anything outside academics does not appeal to them. I passed exams to stay alive, because if you dared fail, my papa go kill you! (laughs). When I was really young, I remember, my elder brother, who was always coming first in class, came fourth. My father locked him outside. He slept outside the house that night. So imagine seeing all that as a kid, you just had to do excellently well to actually survive, and I mean that literally. Meeting Ice Prince was a motivating factor for me. We are good friends.

What has been your biggest break so far in your musical career?
I don’t think I have had a big break yet. But the journey has been fantastic so far.

Did having a master degree give you any edge over your colleagues in the music industry?
I think the main thing in my education is the experience. I got to meet fantastic people from different countries. I understand their cultures, beliefs, food and, of course, their girls. It was a fantastic experience. I can hardly even remember most of the books I read, but I remember all the fantastic people I met from so many different countries, and we still gist to this day.

What genre best describes your kind of music?
Afro Pop.

If you have the opportunity, what would you change about the music industry?
Price of artistes’ albums.  The other day, Banky W said that in Nigeria, an artist’s CD cost between 120 and 150 naira, whereas a packaged empty CD cost 100 naira, can you imagine? So I think it would be great to just increase the selling price of albums.

Download Hello 

How did you get your inspiration for “Hello” and “Be My Girl”?
I was in the studio with my official producer, Sagzy (who also produced Vector’s award winning “Angeli” featuring 9ice) and a few friends. Sagzy came up with this tune, and before he was done with the beat, I had the first verse hook for “Hello.”  It was a great fun day. He also made the beat for “Be My Girl.”

How is your live performance ability? 
I feel happy and at peace in the studio. I really love the creative process of making a song. Stage performances happen so fast, too fast - even if you just performed for 30 minutes, it happens so fast for the artist. But it is fun too. I am a great live performer as well, but I prefer studio.

Who are the artistes you have already worked with in your songs and who are those you are planning to work with?
I’m friendly with a lot of people in the industry. Because I have been trying to define my sound, I hardly push to work with other acts so as not to confuse myself. I have worked with Praiz, IBK(Spaceship boi), Ice Berg Slim, Dammy Krane, Godwon, Frank Edwards, Samklef, Skales, Ajuju, Dr Frabz, and Engager. There are some more, but I can’t really remember them all right away. I’ve been a studio rat for some years now, writing and making songs. I will want to work with artistes like Chris Brown and Brandy, Tiwa Savage and D’Banj.

Which artistes influence your musical predisposition?
Quite a handful: Chris Brown, Jerimih, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Angel, Owl City, Lawson, Cold Play, One Direction, M.I, Brandy, Jason Derulo, Wizkid, and Labrinth.

What are your plans? 
I have a promo song out for now. We are promoting the singles “Hello” and “Be My Girl” now. My producer and I are still working on new songs.

What makes your music unique?
I try to sing about what I believe in, so it’s like my fans know me in person. I think that is what has really set me apart. I mean, to be unsigned, and I still have this much fans and status.

How can your fans follow you on the social media?
My Twitter handle is @richassani. I also have a Ric Hassani Facebook page. You can also check Youtube for videos and download links. For news updates, check my blog or the website, Also, you can check iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify for premium version downloads of my new singles.

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