Is YCee Mainstream

Within the hip hop community, especially in Africa, there is a constant battle between whether artists are focusing on the fundamentals of hip hop or going where the ‘mainstream’ money is.  With the upcoming artist YCee, this is no different.  In the beginning of his career he was nominated for the “Best Artist in African Pop” in the 2015 All Africa Music Awards, however in 2017 he won the “Best Artist in African Hip Hop” award at the All Africa Music Awards, and has recently defended that title with the track “I Wish.”

In 2015, YCee made his comeback with the single “Condo.”  This single, while very popular, lacks in every element of hip hop and was rightly nominated in the pop category.  While the beat could get rapped over, the lyrics are lacking and about what sells: sex, women, money, etc.. In the music video YCee doesn’t bring in African elements and showcases women in lingerie and fancy cars (more of what sells).  In doing this, YCee is conforming to the ‘mainstream’ ideals, even though he started in 2012 as an underground lyricist.

In 2017, YCee won the hip hop award with the single “Juice,” though I’m not sure why.  In the single, he ties hip hop with R&B and a little bit of pop.  While this song is more hip hop then “Condo,” he still does not focus on his lyrics and is again talking about what sells: having juice.  In this song, he only talks about dancing with this one female and how she knows that he has the ‘juice.’  One of the main elements of hip hop is the actual rapping about struggles and what someone has gone through.  Everyone has danced with a girl, and has felt like they had the ‘juice.’  However, this song with the hook and beat does make for an amazing song, that is easy to sell.  Within this music video, like in “Condo,” he focuses on the women and the flashy lifestyle, without dancers (b-boys), or a focus on the actual music.  

In 2018, YCee has just recently dropped a track, that supports his title as the “Best Artist in African Hip Hop.”  In the single “I Wish,” YCee focuses on the beat and the lyrics.  Throughout his lyrics he focuses on how he is the best in the game, even though hip hop artists are not taking him seriously. In this YCee touches on every element of hip hop.  As a lyricist, he defends his title and calls out other rappers.  In the beat he represents African/ Caribbean culture and is able to focus on the beat without overloading it.  While he doesn’t have actual graffiti in the video, he plays with different colors and has caution tape over the area he is in, representing the street cred artists get for being in difficult to reach areas.  In the last minute of the video, he truly ties in African culture and b-boying by playing an Afrobeat with a group of guys dancing.

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