A chat with fast-rising Nigerian youth sensation Rico Maz
“…talking about branding, what’s the one word you want people to think of when they hear ‘Rico Maz’? You know the way people hear Wizkid and think ‘Starboy’ or ‘Big Wiz’, and that embodies his brand. What’s that word for you?”
(Laughs) “Yeah! It’s two words actually”
“Ambitious bad boy”
“Cheeeee! That’s fire!”
A few hours before the interview started, I remember sitting at my desk in my apartment, thinking about how I wanted to ‘attack’ the interview. After a few minutes of pure mental gymnastics, I opened his Instagram page and started to browse through his posts — pictures, freestyle videos, song excerpts, clips from his videos, … and after a while it struck me — Rico is reminiscent of the artistes that started the afrobeats revolution in the early 2010s—Teeming with unbridled talent and a hunger to do amazing things. That was the vantage point I settled on conducting this interview from— showing the world the young, success-hungry man, bustling with energy that he is.
“Hey man, what’s up?”
“I’m good bro, you?” I said with a cheeky smile, I was genuinely excited about the chat. I spent the last few days before the interview researching him and now I was hearing his voice live for the first time.
“I’m good o”
This interview was coming just off the shoulders of the release of his latest afrobeats-hip hop record “Disaster”.
“I listened to your new record ‘Disaster’, I think it’s fire”
“Ayeeeee, thanks bro, thanks.”
Rico today is on a mission to break into the mainstream Nigerian space with his fresh sound which is best described as Hip Hop layered on afrobeats-Esque melodies. But his romance with music is not nascent. He started playing the piano at four and grew up in a home that was a cradle for a blend of sounds—This helped shape his musical sense. Even though he always had a proclivity to music, he never really considered making a career out of it until he got into the university. He decided to pursue a career as a musician after his first studio session. He accompanied a friend to the studio, after his friend’s session, he agreed to ‘jump’ on a beat following being prodded on by the producer, and since then he never looked back.
“It’s hard to not feel yourself when your producer and everyone in the studio is vibing to your music,” He said euphorically, savoring the memory.
“Concerning your latest single “Disaster”, are you pushing it or do you have plans to give it a push commercially?”
“Yeah, I’m pushing it. For now, I’m concentrating on Facebook, YouTube, and radio, and so far, the results have been impressive”
He had an ever-cool aura to his person, answering questions with the wits of a sage. By the time we got to the heart of the conversation, I was won over.
“Which artistes in the industry do you look up to or try to emulate?”
“Hmmm, cool. Why Santi tho?”
“I like the way he’s been able to carve out a space for himself in the industry and amass die-hard fans by being himself, by being authentic”
“Are you releasing new music soon and should we expect an A-list feature on any of them?”
“Sure, you should expect new music from me. I like to release songs in terms of projects…”
“Exactly. But I’m learning to release just one song at a time and just promote that song. I like to plan ahead, so I have new releases planned out, even into next year. As for A-list features, you should definitely expect one any time soon. However, my focus is on creating the best possible music. I did a song with Skales a couple of years back, but I wasn’t just feeling it, so we never put it out”.
At this point, it felt like a spark had been ignited in him, the conversation flowed superfluously, he was becoming loquacious.
The conversation drifted south for a bit. He talked about his most embarrassing stage performance — He was called up to perform hours after he was slated to perform — he was tired and frustrated. He ended up forgetting the lyrics to his songs, he mumbled through the performance and was lucky not to get booed by fans. My studio apartment echoed with laughter as we both relished the story. He turned the mood from a deep orangey hue to sunny yellow when he talked about his best performance—It was in Abuja, a good number of A-list acts performed at the venue, including whiz kid Rema. He got to perform with a live band and the audience jammed to his music. We drifted to the topic of his relationship status, which he described as “Single and focusing on the music”.
“Where do you see yourself in the next five years?”
“Abi they said we should dream big?…”. He let out a slight chuckle before continuing “… I see myself being among the top artists in the country. Also, I have a songwriting company, I also see the company doing big things”
“Rico, I’ve had an amazing conversation with you, but everything eventually has to come to a close. Any parting words for your fans”
“To everyone who’s been with me on this journey, I just want to say thank you. I also want to say thank you to Bitaclan, I appreciate people who are genuinely interested in my music”
“I enjoyed the chat, hopefully, we can do this again in the future when the brand is bigger and you’re bigger”
Check out Rico Marz New Single “Disaster”