Emprah Jahboy was one of the few surprise underground acts to grace the Runtown Experience Kigali stage at the Amahoro Stadium parking last weekend.
The show that was headlined by Nigeria’s Runtown and Uganda’s Sheebah Karungi was Jahboy’s first big stage performance in Rwanda. The up-and-coming dancehall act could not believe his fortune as it was only late last year that he embarked on his music career with the release of his first single titled B.O.N.D (Beginning of a new day).
Prior to the Runtown Experience Kigali concert, organizers had promised to give a chance to upcoming local dancehall musicians a chance to share the big stage with the much experienced Runtown and Sheebah.
But they did not keep their word and instead, it was a night of showcase for several upcoming artistes from Kampala, Uganda, where the show’s organizers, I Factory Africa, is based.
Even more experienced Rwandan acts like the boy group, Active were denied the stage at the last minute, prompting the group to threaten legal action against organizers.
Emprah Jahboy was just about the only underground local artiste that made it to the stage, though not without his own complaints:
“I wasn’t treated very well because I had been given a show time of 20 minutes but I ended up singing for only eight minutes,” he laments.
He is nevertheless happy to have graced his first serious stage in Rwanda. Prior to that, his only other big stage had been at the Western Uganda media awards in Mbarara, Western Uganda in 2014.
“Most people didn’t know me in Rwanda. Some thought I was Ugandan,” he describes his experience at the Runtown Experience Kigali.
“But I got over it because it’s just the beginning for me, and all I wanted was for my Rwandan fans to know that there is someone called Emprah Jahboy, and a team called The Gret Empire which has upcoming dancehall artistes like Big Bang, Koprate, and so many more.
Although Emprah appeared solo on the concert flyers and posters, on stage he teamed up with Big Bang, who backed him up.
Asked whether he was paid for his performance he retorts that “I was paid, but not a huge amount like the big name artistes”. He reveals that the performance at Runtown Experience Kigali was more about showcasing his talent to the Rwandan public, as opposed to pleasing them.
About The Gret Empire, Jahboy explains that “it is an undercover dream music label that was formed in 2011, and that was executed with my first audio with Big Bang in 2016.
“We have many hits together like Shoot fi life, Money, and Envy, but so far other members who have been outside of the country like Koprate are now here for an all-star track that is scheduled to be released this October with some other new recruits like Oska and a new lady. It’s a song I believe every fan of music in Rwanda will get to know.”
The group recently recorded a joint all-star song whose audio is already complete and whose video will be out next month.
The singer recently completed his Journalism and Mass Communication studies from the Jomo Kenyatta University in Rwanda, and currently has his eyes fully set on building his musical profile as well as that of The Gret Empire.
In an earlier interview he had revealed to me that;
“My dream was and still is to modernize Rwandan music to an international level. We have never had a musician representing the country at international awards like BET and AFRIMAA, and the main reason for this is not that we can’t sing well; the reason is that our music does not reach there.”
“We are not focused on the local market because that’s what all other labels are doing.
So I’m reminding all lovers of music that the Gret Empire is the only label in the history of Rwandan music that is out for international music especially dancehall, Afrobeat, and reggae.
His last wish is to see wider acceptance of the dancehall music genre, especially by the local media which he believes at the moment is indifferent to the genre.
His other wish is to see more people invest in the local music industry, especially talented underground artistes.