Afro hip-hop musician Darkecy is on a mission to "make music to represent the people of Rwanda on a global scale."
Born Dennis Muganza Kayonga 22 years ago, the rapper acquired the stage name Darkecy eight years ago, as he attempted to define his artistic persona.
“Darkecy is the combination of the words “Dark”, and “Prophecy” that I came up with when I realised that there is more to be done by Africans and people of African descent, hence the prophecy,” he explains, adding; “Darkecy is my main rap name but sometimes I extend it to Darkecy Kanaka.
“Kanaka is my Kinyarwanda rap alter ego which basically means ‘so and so’. You know in Rwanda they are always saying so and so does this... so and so did this... the whole gossip culture so I’m using that as a rap name because this year I want to do more music that connects with home and our culture.”
He is pursuing a degree in music (and a minor in Business Communication) at the State University of New York at Oneonta.
Darkecy started making music at the age of 13 and, two years later, he launched his record label, Darkecy, in Kigali.
Since arriving in the U.S, in August 2013, he has had the opportunity to be the opening act for artistes such as T-Pain, Asher Roth and even Rwanda’s very own The Ben. Some of his most popular songs are; Kirikou, In the Summertime, and Ibirahure.
In Ibirahure (Glasses), the artiste envisions a future of greatness and stardom of no limits.
Foreign travel not a bed of roses.
In four months Darkecy will be graduating from music school. He is grateful for the priceless lessons gained from his life away from home so far.
“I’ve gained many interesting perspectives on life since I arrived in the U.S. One interesting professional perspective came when I interned for a music publishing company last year in the summer at a building in the Times Square in New York. I learned, unfortunately, that the music industry is not exactly what people think it is. It is much more commercial and based on the ability to sell a product than the quality of the music itself,” he explains.
“I ran into a couple of well-known musicians, ranging from the likes of Tiwa Savage to Swizz Beats, who all expressed that there is promise in the future of African music. Another experience, though unrelated to music that offered me a unique perspective, was when I got the opportunity to visit Arizona at the Southwest border with Mexico. This was during the time of the U.S. presidential campaigns when there was a lot of polarized debate going on about immigration. As a Rwandan who is familiar with the story of Rwanda’s past that led to the displacement of many people from their land, I was curious to learn about how people from a foreign land who are deemed “illegal” immigrants are treated.
“I walked through the desert where many immigrants had crossed and some had died, I got to visit a courtroom where I saw many undocumented immigrants being given sentences for illegally immigrating and I even got to visit a town (Nogales) that was literally separated by the wall. This experience showed me how little the mainstream media tells us about the truth of certain matters and it gave me further encouragement to want to be a part of the mainstream media so as to offer an alternative perspective or narrative from what we are told all the time,” he says.
It’s against this background that he recently released a 16-minute documentary titled A Boy from Rwanda, “To show people that follow my journey from all over the world what Rwanda and specifically my views as a young Rwandan are,” he adds.
His opening remarks in the documentary are; “Through my music I want to show people that it doesn’t matter where you’re from. Your dreams are valid …”
For a young man with such an international perspective to things, I ask if (and when) he hopes to return to his motherland.
“I can’t predict the future so I cannot tell you where I will live for sure. One thing I know is that I feel most at home when I am, well, at home! Being surrounded by friends and family (in the pleasant, warm weather of the land of a thousand hills) is something that I treasure so greatly.
“However, my ambition is to make my mark on the global music industry and God-willing, I plan to return to Rwanda for good when I have done just that and when I feel that there is something significant that I can contribute to the music industry. Like I said in my documentary, I plan to change the world for the better with my music by showing people that regardless of where you’re from, you can achieve your biggest and wildest dreams.
It’s hard to convince people on this when you haven’t done it yourself, which is why I continue to work consistently and tirelessly with hope that one day I will achieve my dreams and inspire the next generation to do it even bigger,” he says.