With a very inspiring foreword by Mr. Incredible Jude ‘MI’ Abaga, The Nigerian Dream by Ice Prince and Vangegh Begha begins on a significant note. Immediately, we are fully immersed in a refreshingly unique lyrical style that has over the years become the official sound of the Super Cool Cat, Ice Prince.
We settle comfortably into the hero’s story, right at the beginning of the Ice Age. With a comfortable storytelling that flows like folklore from the mouths of wise old men, we go through the defining twirls and turns, the sounds and light from the early music days of the Nigerian Super Star.
The book takes us full circle, giving us a panoramic view of Panshak’s journey from J-Town’s No.1 to internationally acclaimed music icon. Heavy with nostalgia and emotions, it takes on the most important relationships in the singer’s life and journey to fame and tells a graceful story of humility and gratitude.
Vangegh does not circumvent the hurdles of responsibility and survival that all too often get in the way of passion, painting a clear picture of the reality of the ‘hustling’ days. An emotional look into a dark and clumsy teenage-hood, augmented by the passing of a parent and the struggles of another, shows us the depth of the ties between a mother and her only son. The story explores this bond that forms a family and how heavily the pain of his early life has influenced Panshak’s life and music, including his own unplanned foray into fatherhood.
Through the pages, we witness the beginnings of a brotherhood that would endure for decades. Readers get an exclusive look at the distinct styles of the people Ice shared the spotlight with; the Chocolate City Boys, and the threads that connected them. The nostalgia gets stronger as neighbourhood names appear and we remember the stars we love as they were at the beginning of their fame. The legendary ‘Oleku’ that many would recall as the song that shot Ice into the limelight takes center stage in his success story, and ironically in the ensuing conflicts that almost always accompany fame. A more humane side of the star comes to light as we discover Panshak’s spirituality and his close relationship with God, a special alliance that gives him inner direction and will when everything else fails.
There is an underlying sense of responsibility and respect for the art present in every sentence. The exultation of rap as an art form that only the most devoted enthusiasts would appreciate reoccurs throughout the book. We examine identity and culture and the intricate patterns that weave it together with music and entertainment.
Another raw nerve that this story exposes is one of the many things that people with celebrity status have to handle; friends that turn foes, social media critics and alliances gone unfortunately sour. Through Panshak’s story, we journey through dealing with the technicalities of the entertainment industry and surviving alongside it.
Among all other things, this book is about the vivid lights of the cities where our favourites worked and played, the humility and gratitude for all opportunities seized and the will and presence to start new beginnings.
Panshak Zamani is the Nigerian Dream. His is a story of light that never went out and hope that never faded. It is a story of trust and love and most importantly, it is a dream that came true.
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Reviewed by Zulaikhah Agoro. She is a fourth-year Building student at the University of Lagos and Campus Editor at LinkedIn. She curated the Random Thoughts series on frandela.com and her work has been featured on Agbowo, the Okike Prize Anthology and Brittle Paper. She was shortlisted in the top 10 of the Afreada Photo Story Contest 2016 and the top 35 of the Africa Writes x Afreada Short Story Contest 2017. She writes and edits freelance pieces when she is not busy daydreaming about spending money she doesn’t have…yet.