Climax consistently eludes ‘YCee Vs Zaheer’ by YCee

Humanity is cruel, but that’s only one side of its genetic configuration. At the root of humanity also exists sentiment. Sometimes, that’s sentiment is positive and sometimes, it is negative. One of those moments sentiment possesses positivity is rooting for the underdog or being a sucker for a good comeback story.

That is why a lot of people root for YCee. He is the talented guy who stole dance floors with ‘Jagaban‘ and ‘Omo Alhaji.‘ He is also the tall, dark and rugged-looking Yoruba boy who stole female hearts with the smash hit, ‘Juice.’ Then, he released his first EP, First WaveIt wasn’t bad, but it didn’t impress either.

He kept going and collaborated with then-label mate, Bella Alubo for the the 9-track Late Night Vibrations EP – It was impressive. Then the label problems started. He ended up leaving Tinny Entertainment, but that hasn’t stopped the drama from unfolding in real time.

Sentiment is the reason most people criticized YCee’s former label boss, Tinny for scooping the rapper a few weeks ago. People really want YCee to win and why not? He’s talented. On November 8, 2019, he released his debut album, YCee Vs Zaheer. The album’s title connotes the presence of YCee’s two creative sides; the rapper and the singer.


The album starts off commendably with a trap bop running on a spazzed out bass riff. The song is titled, ‘It’s Amazing.’ It tells a story of YCee’s current state of mind which, “Amazing.” The reason is simple, he has women, alcohol and happiness. The beat comes alive with the triumphant strings on 1:26.

Two weeks before YCee vs. Zaheer was released, ‘Wahala Dey’ was released as a single. It didn’t really make sense at the time, but it makes better sense on this album. It is a love song and a declaration of love. ‘Bossing‘ features British rapper, Ms Banks who also has Nigerian descent. According to YCee, this was meant to be a Ms Banks song featuring YCee.

It’s possibly the best song on this album. The beat features a reworked interlope of the opening strings of a 2Pac songHowever, this writer thinks Stefflon Don might have been better suited to this song than Ms Banks. It’s also a rapped hook at its finest. ‘Chocolata’ features Niniola and it begs one for self-inflicted amnesia. Ergo, it’s a forgettable afro-house song.

Why in the world is YCee jumping on afro-house? Even if YCee was going to jump on afro-house, it should have melody and not be myopically drum-oriented. It’s a bland song filled with cliched adlibs. The flow is revived by the Syn X-produced ‘Cheque,’ a banging trap bop that weaves and flows with the magic of a Lex Luger beat.

If you didn’t know better, you might think Travis $cott worked on the drums. Topically, it documents an appetite for money. ‘Dakun‘ was released a single and it’s been the most successful single from this album yet. It’s no secret the women love being chased and it’s also no surprise that a single which sees a grown man pleading is a hit with them.

While ‘Dakun‘ might be a good blend of hi-life and pon pon, it is not a comeback single. It might have been better as a second single after a comeback single. Fun fact; ‘Dakun‘ is the oldest song that made the album – it was recorded in 2017.

The alte-influenced R&B filler track ‘Vibing‘ was followed by the excessively long trap song, ‘Mo Salah.’ The production for these two songs are flat and boring. ‘Mo Salah‘ sounds like a loosie and not a single. If YCee wanted to appraise ‘Mo Salah,’ the worst he could have done was get a better beat from the Abuja-based generation x rappers. The rap is also bland.

‘So Nice‘ has a lot of potential as a dancehall/synth-pop song with an afro-house drum arrangement. However, the melodies are incomplete. You don’t leave a beat like that running on minimalist melodies for too long. When you get a chance to produce its hook, you make it dense on melodies.

‘Man’ features Phyno and it has potential, but it lacks a spark. ‘Love Like That’ is an R&B/hyphy song that shares striking similarities with a Kid Ink song from 2013. The only difference is that it runs on afrobeats percussion and not a DJ Mustard-ratchet arrangement. It’s good enough for an album track.

The production on ‘Bassline’ merges dancehall with dance-pop and afrobeats. Its cloud strings reverberate, but like many-a-song on YCee Vs Zaheer, it fails to deliver satisfaction. YCee needs a massive comeback song, and barring a heavy radio push, this doesn’t seem like it.

‘Dada’ features Dapo Tuburna. It feels like a loosie on a very experimental production. However, with the rap, it seems YCee had fun creating this song. It feels like the most organic song on this on. That said, the production could have been better. Why in the world did the melody on 3:23 not come earlier? Melodies like that are what this album screams for.

Again, it has potential, but it’s not quite it. ‘Vacancy’ might have been a better song on another album, but its placement on this album exposes its flaws.

‘Liar’ is an R&B song that closes out our experience. Like ‘Vacancy,’ it might have made better sense on an Odunsi album where the sequencing and track listing would have aided its beauty.

Final thoughts

Asides the very obvious ‘rap side vs. singing side,’ it seems YCee was trying too hard to create songs that resonate with whatever audience instead of simply enjoying what he creates. The organic feel of a song is felt in the energy it exudes – call it telepathy. That energy is largely missing on this song and YCee’s cause is not helped by the beats he chose.

The major problem on YCee vs Zaheer is production – the beats are weak. More importantly, the beats for its afrobeats/dance songs, are at loggerheads with YCee. Thus, most of the songs stick out. Asides ‘Wahala Dey’ and maybe ‘Dakun,’ one struggles to pick a genuinely good afrobeats song on this album.

That said, despite having potential as singles, neither ‘Wahala Dey’ nor ‘Dakun’ are genuine comeback singles. They seem better suited to the single after a smashing comeback single. It also begs the question of ‘Who assisted YCee on this album?’ That person didn’t help YCee at all or maybe it was YCee who didn’t help himself.

Is YCee Vs Zaheer a bad album? No. It just fails to convey satisfaction. The album is filled with an excessive amount of false starts – especially with the afrobeats/dance songs. That said, barring ‘Dada,’ ‘Bossing,’ ‘Cheque’ and ‘It’s Amazing,’ – the rap songs – are the best on this album.

I might be wrong, but that might not be a coincidence. If YCee wants to create a rap project, then he should go for it. It’s risky, but if anyone can do it, it’s him. ‘Balance‘ was such an incredible song and YCee on that brand of energy might be able to sell a rap album.

Again, I might be wrong, but from where I stand, it seems YCee wants to make a rap project. In that case, all he needs is an A&R to help him pick the best beats ever and a label behind him. ANBT isn’t enough for him, he needs a structure behind him.

As terrible as Tinny was, the label had some great A&R – at least, that’s what the music reflects. Again, YCee Vs Zaheer isn’t bad, but it isn’t excellent either. More so, it leans towards bad than good.

Ratings: /10

•   0-1.9: Flop

•   2.0-3.9: Near fall

•   4.0-5.9: Average

•   6.0-7.9: Victory

•   8.0-10: Champion

Pulse Rating: /10

Track listing: 1.2/2

Content and Themes: 0.8/2

Production: 1/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1/2

Execution: 1/2


5/10 -Victory


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