Danny Nanone, born Danny Ntakirutimana, is a popular local rapper. As a young man, Danny wanted to be a musician. Growing up in Nyamirambo, a Kigali suburb, his decision to venture into music did not sit well with his Muslim family.
Asked how his family reacted to his career choice, he said: “Most Rwandans would love to see their children dreaming of corporate jobs. My father discouraged me from going into music, saying that it wasn’t good enough for me and, he wanted me to concentrate on my studies.”
“I told my father, ‘Not everybody wants to be a surgeon or a teacher, pilot, technician or even an entertainer. You need all calibres to make the world a better place’.”
His enthusiasm for music did not decline even as he juggled between music and his high school studies. Armed with passion and determination, the 25-year-old singer did tasks to the best of his ability.
“I juggled between studies and music because I didn’t want to upset my family but I also wanted to prove to them that music is also a profession and can pay off.”
Danny’s big break came in 2012, when he was nominated for the Primus Guma Guma SuperStar competition, that his father finally blessed his career choice. Today, the songwriter and rapper is garnering acclaim in the country thanks to his hit tracks such as Imbere n’Inyuma, Ntagukoza Isoni, Njye Ndarapa, and Tubiziranyeho, to name a few.
The 25-year-old singer is contesting for the third time the Primus Guma Guma SuperStar competition. He recently visited The New Times head offices in Kacyiru, along with fellow competitors, TBB musical group.
Formed in 2011, TBB is an R&B trio. It consists of vocalists Martin Kasirye, best known as MC Tino, Bob Steve and Benjamin Kagorora. Unlike Danny, the group is contesting for the first time in the competition.
Primus Guma Guma Super Star is an annual singing competition that’s organised by Bralirwa, the main brewer in the country, through its biggest mainstream brand: Primus.
Winners of the previous editions include Tom Close, King James, Riderman, Jay Polly and Knowless – respectively.
Danny and TBB opened up on several issues concerning Guma Guma music competition, their music and social life.
What was it like doing the “Ryoherwa” song together with your competitors?
Danny: The competition is not a fight. On the stage, everyone is trying to win, but outside that we are just brothers and sisters.
What is the one thing you check out upon meeting a girl?
Danny: The eyes. They have to be big, bright and attractive (laughs).
Benjamin: She must be intelligent and educated. My girlfriend has the qualities and likes me for who I am.
Tino: Her feet. They must be beautiful
Bob: She must have a womanly figure.
What are some of the lessons that you have learnt from the competition?
Danny: I have learnt a lot but since most of the contenders are new in the competition, I think I have an edge over them and I’m confident that I will win it.
Benjamin: I borrow ideas from artistes that we don’t have in our management. Another thing is valuing our music and committing ourselves to be the best. Music is also a price you pay for you cannot reap from it in a short time.
Tino: I regret why I didn’t start music earlier. I believe I would be far off when I compare myself with my colleagues.
Where do you see yourself in the competition?
Ben: So far so good. We have been blown away by the huge fan base that we have right now. We are lucky that the first time we are in the competition people are dancing to our songs and singing along, so we hope for the best.
What else do you do apart from music?
Danny: I started a project called Ihundo campaign to support the Agaciro Development Fund cause as a way of inspiring the youth, who are the majority among my fans. I am also a student in civil engineering at IPRC-Kigali, I’m currently in my second year. I call myself a young president because of my love for inventing new things and being a leader.
MC Tino: Radio is my bread while singing is my butter. I feed off my fulltime job as a radio presenter, I spend most of my time in the studio.
Bob: When I’m not singing, I’m playing soccer.
Ben: I do music production. I also own a company involved with local tourism.
How do you handle clashes in the group (TBB)?
Ben: We do clash most of the time, I always clash with even my brother Bob, but at the end of the day we are held together by that strong bond of brotherhood, and at the end of the day we all have dreams to chase. Other than family issues we clash about video shoots because we all have different styles and everyone wants it done their own way but we try to fix things.
MC Tino: I am the leader of the group because I am older than both. I make decisions most of the time while Benjamin manages our finances. We do this to keep a sense of equality in the group.
What are some of the memorable experiences that you have had together as a group?
Ben: It is the time we were stranded upcountry where we had gone to perform. We were helped by a fan who accommodated us because we had lost touch with the organisers. There also lots of memorable moments while on stage, when people get excited during our shows.
Bob: It was during the first time we appeared on stage, and due to nervousness, I vanished from the stage before we could perform.
What were your biggest fears when you started singing?
Danny: I feared being cast out of my family. I come from a Muslim family and getting involved with music is like a taboo to them. However, I proved to them that music is just like any other career and one can also be successful in that line of profession.
MC Tino: I wasn’t sure if we (TBB) were going to make it in the industry.