His name is everywhere and so is his music. In this interview we get to know more about this unique artist whose fan base seems to be expanding every day.
Howfana: Where are you from?
Ric Hassani: I am from Port Harcourt, born and raised.
How would you classify your music?
My music is World Pop music with an African base. It’s not really Afro Pop because Afro Pop is popular African music.
You used to be a rapper. How did you transition from rapping to singing?
I had always sung. I joined a classical choir when I was seven years old. When I got to my teenage years, when I was in secondary school, I knew I just had to perform, I had to be on stage and doing something musical. At the time, I was kind of ashamed of my voice because it was light and high pitched and at the time it wasn’t a cool, masculine, swaggy thing to do. At that time Eminem, Dr Dre and G-Unit were the biggest artists in the world. And wanting to be on stage, I just had to learn how to rap and have that bravado and swag. That was what was popping at the time. But really I was a singer and I knew how to sing. I made the transition when it got down to; what do you want to do for the rest of your life? Do you want to keep rapping this rap that you learned how to rap out of pressure or do you want to do what you’ve always known how to do, even if it was with a high pitched voice? That was how I stopped rapping and I started singing.
We’ve been through different phases in the music industry including the time when the marketers dictated trends. Do you think you transitioned to singing because we had gotten to a point where the industry was ready for it?
It really had nothing to do with the industry. I wasn’t even thinking about the industry at the time. I was just thinking, what do I want, who do I want to be? Even now I am not trying to make music to fit what the industry needs. I am just doing what I like to do, and I feel like that’s where real art begins. You first of all just have to do what you believe and know how to do. Since it’s something you believe in you are able to defend it on stage. So I really never thought about what are the marketers saying now or what’s popping at the moment?
Is that something you’ve always had; sticking to what you want to do?
Definitely not, I think I just grew into it. People don’t start off knowing exactly what they want to do. I feel like knowing to stick with what you know how to do comes with trying to do what you don’t know how to do and failing at it. I’ve tried so many other things like being a rapper and wearing bling and I didn’t blow up for so many years. It was the one time that I said this is how I know how to sing, even if it’s high pitched, this is how my own is, that’s when things started to happen for me. That came off me doing the wrong thing. You learn how to succeed by failing. You know what to do by having done what you don’t know how to do.
In December we heard that you were in an accident. How are you doing now? How much of that do you want to talk about, cos we noticed you didn’t say much about it or post any pictures.
Yeah, the only reason I spoke about it is because you guys [laughs] got the news somehow. I am an exteremely private person. When the news hit the media and the blogs, I just had to come out and say something. You hear people saying things like, oh he’s trying to do a publicity stunt, which really is not my style. I had to come out and clear the rumors. I never want to be the kind of artist that blows up off some kind of scandal or drama. I want to blow off my music or my hard work.
At least you’re okay now, you’re doing well. Is the car doing well? Is it going to be okay?
Oh no, it’s destroyed [laughs].
What are you listening to these days?
I listen to a lot of Sam Smith. Currently I am listening to music from a movie, The Greatest Showman. I am just obsessed with it. I have seen the movie four times at the cinema and I have never done that before. I still want to see it again. It’s a musical and there’s an album of all the songs, on itunes. I bought the album and that’s what I’ve been listening to for like two weeks straight.
What are your plans and what can people expect from you in 2018?
More work, more music. There are a lot of suprises I don’t want to talk about yet. I don’t want to jinx it but there will be a lot of surprises that I am proud of and that I am thankful for.
Tell us something about you that a lot of people don’t know.
A lot of people don’t know that both my parents are professors. My dad is a professor of Management and my mom is a professor of Library Sciences.
Have they always supported your career?
Of course not [laughs], now they do anyway. It wasn’t so much of not supporting, they just didn’t understand it. You have to understand something before you support it. Even when they wanted to support it, they couldn’t understand it. Because of their academic orientation, they didn’t understand you singing and people paying you to sing, I couldn’t even blame them. I think they support me as a human being first; he’s a good kid, he probably knows what he’s doing. Now they’re finally getting it because people come up to them and say, I saw your son here and there. My mom could be driving and she sees a poster of me performing somewhere and she’s really proud of it.
You seem like a very busy person. What do you do for fun?
I hang out with friends and I enjoy seeing movies.