To Be Continued finds Ice Prince at his most composed, and yet most vulnerable state. Elevated lyrics are jettisoned for relatable, quick-to-remember lines. The collaborations are deliberately sparse; in a way, it allows Ice Prince to shine…
By Emmanuel Daraloye
Panshak Henry “Ice Prince” Zamani was born in Minna, Niger State and moved, alongside his family, to Jos, Plateau State at the age of two. In 1999, he started scribbling lines into notes, memorising lyrics. He showed his lyrical skills by spitting bars, and going for rap battles.
In 2000, Ice Prince started going to the studio to record, using his pocket money and those earned from doing menial jobs. In 2002, he formed, with his friend, a musical group called “Ecomog.” The group was short-lived, and when it disbanded, he moved on with his life, striving to elevate his craft.
His life changed for the better when he met MI Abaga in 2004. There is a version of that story as narrated by Abaga: Ice Prince coming to the studio to challenge Abaga to a rap battle, an amused Abaga giving him a chance, and later offering him the position of a secretary at the studio. From being a studio secretary, Ice Prince later joined the Loopy Music Crew alongside M.I., Jesse Jagz, Ruby, Lindsey, Eve, and Taz.
The big break for Ice Prince came about seven years later. Within these years, there were minor hits. He even attempted his first Degree at the University of Jos but dropped out due to financial constraints. “Oleku,” the Brymo-assisted 2011 classic, changed everything for him, and perhaps for Brymo, too. The song still holds the record as one of the most remixed songs of all time. Superstar, as well as other records would follow, likewise the debut Everybody Loves Ice Prince, and the sophomore Fire of Zamani.
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On February 17, 2023, Ice Prince made a dashing return with the release of To Be Continued, a part of the Trash Can Series. The project is a fifteen-minute window into the world of the Super Cool Cat boss. For his fans, they finally have a compact list of songs to choose from. For the music critic, it’s an avenue to take a look at one of Africa’s finest rappers, a cursory observation of his craft, and a regurgitation of questions about his relevance and winning power in the 2020s.
The Runcheck-produced “Bless” kicks off To Be Continued. Released a few weeks after his altercation with the police, it is a delightful, remorseful, and guitar-spiced exploration of life and its excesses. On a deeper listen, it might have just revealed his state of mind after the incident. The opening lines detail his story before fame: the days of being broke. The follow-up lines let us into how his life has changed: the air trips, and shows. Ice Prince reveals he always gets depressed when he is not being booked. Perhaps, shows and concerts are his ways of escaping some life realities. Too many topics are treated on “Bless;” however the optimism of the record is too glaring to be drowned by his life problems.
Jazz and Soul meet Hiphop on Mstruff-featured “Disco.” The hook is R&B-tinged. Too many genres collide on this track. Ice Prince’s cadence is impeccable. It is clear and sharp, enough to sway any girl to a man’s arm. Underneath this production is a poignant drum and string, and although they do not dominate, you feel its impact all over this song.
“Get at You,” Ice Prince’s first song released in 2023, takes the third place spot on this EP. It finds the rapper getting emotional over the loss of his girlfriend. It is difficult to know if he is speaking from a personal point of view. Everyone who has been in this situation would find it very relatable. While he and his supposed girlfriend are still apart, Ice Prince still looks forward to reconciliation.
“All Day” pays a copious tribute to Amapiano. It’s a fine attempt at exploring the South African Deep House genre. There’s the use of minor lyrics, and an uptempo production. The delivery swirls between weary and weak, and sometimes it’s lively; however, these lively moments are far in between.
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One dominant feature of this EP is vulnerability. Ice Prince is not scared to say his truth. In a masculine society, a topic like this is rarely explored. “Holding On” sees him looking inward. He pays tribute to departed souls, and talks about his struggles. At the end of the song, he urges the listeners to be honest with themselves.
Ice Prince starts To Be Continued with “Bless,” and ends it with “Jah Bless Me,” a Gospel tune. It shows gratitude to God for his protection in the face of life’s tribulation. The backup vocals and samples on “Jah Bless Me” give it an angelic feeling. It is a superb way to end this EP.
The home page of a Google search of the name “Ice Prince” brings you an avalanche of links about his September 2022 scuffle with men of the Nigerian Police Force. Only a few of these searches talk about his craft. It’s a pointer to the perception held of him in the social space. Many have been unable to let go of that incident. Not even the recent release of this sixth project could end the disgraceful trend.
The first Trash Can EP which this new EP builds on was released in 2015 with partying and love dominating the themes. Eight years later, we have To Be Continued. The title is apt, but this time around, we have party, love, life, and gratitude serving as the topics.
To Be Continued finds Ice Prince at his most composed, and yet most vulnerable state. Elevated lyrics are jettisoned for relatable, quick-to-remember lines. The collaborations are deliberately sparse; in a way, it allows him to shine.
While the teeming fans look forward to the elusive fourth studio album, I think this EP comes in handy, and it is a testament to Ice Prince’s winning power, his attempt at further extending his brand to the Z Generation, and also, in some way, solidifying his legacy as an artist.
Lyricism – 1
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1
Vocalisation – 2
Listening Experience – 1
Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Freelance Music Critic. He has over 500 album reviews in his archive.