They are called ‘celebs’ today. They do all sorts of things they could not do in the 90s to fit into this celebrity lounge. Back then, today’s artistes were nothing but ghetto residents slurping soup from plates of katogo in roadside shacks and riding on taxi motos to concerts. Life was a hassle for you, me and them. Not anymore.
Today, they belch and the public can say “they have arrived,” never mind that the disparity between our own Knowless and the real Knowles of the JayZ fame is an ocean wide.
Society Magazine delved into the worth of the artistes to estimate how much each one is worth. We considered the musician’s assets, the number of concerts held in 2013 and how much the artiste raked in from the concerts. We also looked at any other income generating avenue an artiste has. The highest paid musicians in Rwanda and beneficiaries of endorsements, especially from the corporate companies, make this list.
Other factors such as number of live performances, revenue from performing at private parties and international events was also considered.
Of course it was hard to delve into the liabilities of these musicians. For some it was easy to tell us what they have while for others it was like squeezing water out of the rock. In no particular order below we bring you the musicians and their worth.
Feel free to do the maths and see where your favourite musician lies in line of Rwanda’s richest musicians.
Knowless has been churning out hit after hit ever since she made her entry into the music industry. The Baragushaka singer is rumoured to be earning around Rwf2m per month as the MTN ambassador. Her concerts usually attract a mammoth crowd including last year’s album launch where it is said she bagged over Rwf3 million. Knowless normally walks away with Rwf650,000 to a milion or over whenever she is invited to perform at a function. From 11 concerts attended last year, Knowless pocketed about Rwf 14.3million. She owns a Mercedes Benz CLK convertible.
The car goes for about Rwf 6million and above on the market. She rents a house in Gisozi, although she is building her own house. Her CD sales have so far earned her Rwf 25million with each going at Rwf 5,000.
Although they didn’t make it to the top ten in Primus GumaGuma music competition season 4, Rwanda’s biggest music group seems to be doing quite well. The boys own the Kigali based Super Level studio that boasts of big talents like Bruce Melody, Fire Man and Mico the Best. The boys, are however still renting, as we wait to see them put some of their money into building their dream homes. Currently Nizzo and Safi, rent separate three bed roomed houses in Nyamirambo whereas Humble rents at Muhima.
Humble owns a Toyota Sera valued at Rwf 6million, Safi owns a BMW Z3 valued at Rwf 5million whereas Nizzo’s Celica is rumoured to have set him back a cool Rwf 8million.
Last year they pocketed an average of Rwf 12miliion from over 30 concert appearances where their charges range from Rwf 400,000 and above. The boys are currently planning their European tour that will take them through France, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.
Urban Boyz have made hit singles with Ugandan big names like Jackie Chandiru and Goodlyf Crew of Radio and Weasel.
Undoubtedly, King James is one of the richest musicians in the country at the moment. After being crowned the winner of Primus Guma Guma Super Star (PGGSS) 2, King James’ net-worth jumped to a whopping Rwf 24million. When invited to concerts, his minimum charge is Rwf 500,000. Last year, King James attended five concerts in Rwanda which made him Rwf 2.5m richer. Most of his concerts were abroad where sources say he pocketed more than $10,000 (about Rwf6.8m). He boasts of a Mercedes Benz Kompressor C 200 valued at Rwf 8m.
Although he still rents in Kicukiro, he is putting up a mansion in Ruyenzi, Kamonyi district . His role as the Airtel Rwanda ambassador gives him an estimated Rwf 1.5million. In addition to touring widely in Rwanda and within the east African region, he has performed in the United Kingdom, France and Belgium.
Dream Boyz are among the biggest musicians in Rwanda, going by their concert appearances where they are paid between Rwf 800,000 and Rwf 1m per appearance, according to entertainment sources. They have been involved in awareness campaigns which have generated a substantial income for them.
Dream Boyz don’t take anything less than Rwf 400,000 when performing as guest stars at any event.
In 2013, Dream Boyz performed at no more than five concerts that made them Rwf 2million richer. But probably, their biggest revenue comes from concerts held abroad where close sources say they pocket $6,500 (Rwf4.5m) . The CD sales are limping because they have sold slightly lower than 1,000 copies. With each at Rwf5000, Dream Boyz have managed to make Rwf 5 million from sales. Dream Boyz drive cars that include a BMW 3 series valued at Rwf 5.3million for Platini and a Mercedes Benz C 200 for TMC valued at Rwf 8million.
Jay Polly is among Rwanda’s foremost hip-hop musicians and has cut a niche for himself among the best we have in country. His album launch last year, Ikosora sold-out and it is rumoured that he made between Rwf 2m – Rwf 2.5m. CD sales have fetched him Rwf 6.35m over the last seven months . When performing at concerts, his minimum charge is $1000 (about Rwf680,000) and the highest being between $3,000 to $4,000 for concerts abroad. Jay Polly appeared in what he estimates to be 10 concerts last year, which earned him $20,000 (about Rwf 13.8m). Jay Polly also drives a BMW series valued at Rwf 5.3m. A close source tells us that he doesn’t own a house and currently rents a house in Nyamirambo
Senderi International Hit
Maverick musician, Senderi International Hit, can claim to put his money where his mouth is. The former soldier-cum-musician makes most of his money churning hits about government programmes where, according to sources, he earns an estimated Rwf 20m per year. He boasts of 149 songs and the biggest concert attendance of more than 15,000 people. Senderi owns a house in Nyamirambo valued at Rwf 10m in addition to two other houses he sublets in Gikondo. Senderi earns not less than Rwf 1.5m as the Airtel ambassador per month. He has over 8,000 CD sales which include the CD of his recent album launch that retails at Rwf 15,000.
He earned more than $7000 (about Rwf 4.8m) in concert appearances where his charges range between $1000-$700. While most musicians are buying expensive cars, Senderi owns a Corolla that costs Rwf 3m.
The self-acclaimed King of hip-hop is an ambitious business man as well as an established rapper. Riderman instantly laughed his way to the bank the moment he was crowned PGGSS 3 winner with a grand prize of Rwf 24million. His pad which is under construction in Nyamirambo, will reduce his bank balance by Rwf 15m when completed.
He drives a Mercedes Benz Kompressor Convertible valued at Rwf 6m. He owns IBISUMIZI studio valued at Rwf 5million. As the Bralirwa Ambassador, Riderman pockets close to Rwf 1.5million per month. Besides all this, Riderman has a fleet of motor bikes that generate Rwf 1.5million per month. He filled up Amahoro Basketball Arena last year during the launch of his album where it is rumoured that he made more than Rwf 2.5 million. Riderman was quiet about the amount he charges to feature in concerts but close sources say that his charges range between $1000 to $2000 . Having roughly featured in eight concerts last year, Riderman bagged about Rwf 10.4million.
He has been in the music industry for a long time but he has been trailed by a chain of woes. Having started his career more than seven years back, he is still trying to cut a niche for himself in the industry. Uncle Austin is a radio presenter at KFM where he reportedly earns around Rwf 500,000 per month. His concert last year was a huge flop and according to close sources, there are no album sales to speak of. He tried his luck on PGGSS 4 to salvage his status but he didn’t make it to the finals. He previously owned a Mercedes Benz CLK 320 worth Rwf 7 million but has not been seen driving it of late. Sources close to Uncle Austin say that he is struggling financially after paying off his debt that saw him get behind the coolers at the beginning of this year.
As far as RnB music is concerned in this country, none has made substantial contribution like Tom Close. Starting his musical career in 2007, Tom close has recorded four albums and held massive concerts. Although he last launched an album in 2012, last year Tom Close performed at over 50 concerts from which he earned an estimated Rwf 17million. Tom Close is a doctor at Kacyiru Police Hospital where he earns between Rwf 500,000 and Rwf 600,000. He owns an events and advertising agency. He doesn’t make any sales from CD’s since he gives them out for free to his fans. He stays in Kacyiru and owns a Volkswagen Golf car valued at Rwf 4million.
Martin has been in the music industry for almost a decade with numerous local and international awards to his name. He has been called “one of Rwanda’s strongest live performing acts” by many music critics. His success on stage has brought him considerable success. Mani Martin last launched a music album in 2012 but attended several festivals last year and won awards. Although he says that when he is invited abroad for performances, he values the connections he makes there, he makes between $4000 and $8000 from these concerts . He is the proprietor of Kesho Music band, which, according to close sources is valued at $8000.
As one of the brand ambassadors of MTN, he gets paid not less than Rwf 1.5million per month. To appear at concerts, Mani Martin’s charges $2000, which makes him Rwf 6.5million richer from the five concerts he performed at last year. He has so far sold 1,000 CD copies of his music, and 80% of these are sold abroad. Mani Martin rents in Nyakabanda and drives a simple Toyota Corolla (Kikumi) valued at Rwf 3million.