The RnB genre in Nigeria’s music scene may have lost its competitive edge, a feature that qualified the sound in the 2010’s with the female cadre of artistes like Tiwa Savage, Saeon, Ms Jaie, Waje, Omawumi and so on. And although it is re-emerging and colliding with hazy sounds of today, there are some acts who still believe in the purity of the genre.
Introducing RnB Princess, whose stage name might be on the nose but it’s also an indicator of the sonic route she’s taken. Born Princess Onyinye Okoh, RnB Princess released her debut single Heartless in 2015, a song about heartbreak produced and sound engineered by Fuga the Pirate. ”I used to go by a different name then (“Onyinyee”) and although it was the starting point for my sound, I cannot stand to listen to it anymore. It currently can’t be found anywhere because I took it down from all platforms,” admits RnB Princess.
Be that as it may, SoundCloud is still the holdover bridging her artistic past with the present. Standing out is her impulse to make covers, most recent Oxlade’s DKT which she released last December. Her take on the lush romantic anthem comes with lilting and hypnotic vocals, a shifting of narrative perspective that appears remarkably seamless. She also takes Sade Adu’s Sweetest Taboo, invoking 80’s RnB nostalgia and pop fare.
Love Memoires, her debut EP released in January, 2020, weaves itself on the foundation of covers. The 5-track project covers Seyi Shay’s 2015 pop-dancehall banger Murda, which RnB Princess makes leaner and roomier with Jinmi Abduls as a Patoranking stand-in. ”About two weeks altogether,” RnB Princess says on the time it took to make the EP, ”The idea came about towards the end of 2019. I wanted to recreate covers of some of my favourite Nigerian love songs, specifically the songs that really impacted my artistry and put it out on my birthday (January 16th) as a little gift to my fans. Started working on it by January 2nd, 2020 and after about 3 studio sessions at Jinmi’s place, we had completed the whole project.”
RnB Princess is the first of three children, and grew up engaging with different music phases of her life. Her toddler years, she recalls, were filled old school music courtesy of her dad’s CDs – Kool & The Gang, Whitney Houston, Bonny M, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson. Her pre-teens was primarily Rihanna, Styl Plus, 2Face, Ashanti, Mariah Carey, J Lo, Paul Play Dairo, Pussycat Dolls and Ciara.
Currently based in Lagos, RnB Princess is also a Barrister and Solicitor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Her discography maybe lean, but it defining her trajecotry in the industry. It also finds her in a political headspace with songs like Woman, a haunting song about the multifaceted injustices that women face in the society. RnB Princess reveals more on the inspirations: ”Woman was my story and the story of many women around me.It was a very beautiful song to write because it cut across so many different themes – life as a first born daughter, life of a single mother, life of a woman in an abusive marriage, life of a woman in the workplace. It was my story and the experiences of some women I knew but really it applies to just about any woman out there.”
YNaija had previously reported on her first single of the year Be Gone, a song about moving on from a sour relationship which finds her reuniting with Fuga the Pirate. In this interview with YNaija’s Next Rated, RnB Princess reveals more about her music journey, being an independent artiste and future projects.
Why did you decide you wanted to be a singer?
Singing wasn’t really something I decided to do. It’s come to me as naturally as breathing honestly, because of my heavy music background. Deciding to be an artiste however was a tough decision to make because I had so many different interests and possible career paths, but it was the only thing that I felt could give me peace whilst still making me some money. I’ve also had many dreams and revelations about it since my childhood, so I guess you can’t really deny your destiny.
Although largely undiscovered, there are more women moving into music for whatever genre than before. In your opinion, do you see a big resurgence of Nigerian female artistes in the future?
I definitely do. I think the music scene as a whole is beginning to open to more/different types of artistes and women are seizing the opportunity. It’s really exciting and inspiring to see and I hope the industry as a whole learns to embrace more women, rather than filtering down female artistes into the big 2-3. Rooting for every women pushing despite all the obstacles thrown our way and I can’t wait for us all to start receiving our flowers.
Are there Nigerian artistes you would love to collaborate with and why?
So many but my top two currently are Oxlade and Simi. Oxlade because I’m a huge fan of his music and I feel we have very similar styles of music, although his execution of Afro RnB is one to be studied. I think Simi is an exceptional songwriter and producer, and just working with her and learning more about her creative process would be so great for me.
Do you have a mantra/philosophy about love?
Currently, it’s “Learn to love but also learn when to stop”. I grew up with a very unrealistic idea of love and how it should feel, but a good number of failed relationships have shown me that love isn’t even the most fundamental thing in a relationship. So love wholeheartedly but apply wisdom and know when to stop.
What is it like being an independent artiste? Are there challenges?
So many challenges. From having to source funds to organizing and planning everything yourself. It gets super demotivating and exhausting sometimes, and for me, it really takes away from the joy of creating music. Grateful for the few people who have supported and assisted me with one thing or the other.
Are you working on anything currently? If so, how much can you say about it?
A lot and a lot. I can’t really say much about the features and collaborations I have just yet but I’m putting together my first body of work and I’m so excited about that. Once I can share more information, my people will be the first to know.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.