Every new generation seems to have its own way of doing things; new-age groups often have more “modern” manners of walking, talking and dressing.
With new slang comes unheard-of challenges and untapped potential. In music, youths step to the plate hoping to take a crack at the industry.
Some, like the rap group Underworra, create good works, but one can’t help but wonder how their work would pan out if the industry was more rewarding and accommodating of unique, yet niche artists.
This piece’s objective is to help readers learn how to support youthful artists in Rwanda, thus, helping make tides in the local and global industries.
Seek out the artist
The first thing we should do as fans of music that I feel we don’t do enough in Rwanda is to seek out the artist.
Many of us are so used to consuming music by already established artists that we forget that the only reason why these artists rise to the surface and stay afloat is because of their fans who discovered and supported them before the masses did.
As soon as I discovered Underworra, I had to know more about this NWA-type Kigali squad. I visited their Soundcloud and Instagram pages and found out that the group is made up of 4 artists – Mazo, Baano, Hakim, and Chakratang – who had met in high school and were planning the release of their first EP.
I played their songs and made sure that I shared with my peers what the cool Kigali kids were cooking.
Spread the word
Another way of supporting your favorite artists is to give props where it’s due and let the world know that you appreciate them. After all, you do want them to succeed, right?
Kanye West once rapped, “If you admire somebody, you should go ahead and tell them. People never get the flowers while they can still smell them.” You don’t miss your water till your well runs dry so don’t be shy to express your admiration of artists.
More so, don’t refuse to support artists because you feel that it will inflate their egos or make you seem like a groupie/fanboy/fangirl.
While I found out that the whole Underworra squad is just a group of early twenty-somethings who are at the dawn of their careers, I still supported them and spread the vibes whenever I got my hands on an aux cord.
Artists work excruciatingly hard to give you projects you love and simply plugging them into your conversations is the very least you can do to pay them back.
For brownie points, stream them on your favorite platforms (like I streamed Underworra’s “For the Long Run” EP) and help them earn back a few pennies from their recording time. You can also let your friends know to come see them perform.
Attend live shows
The last fairly easy thing you can do to help your local artists stay afloat is to go see them live. I cannot explain how performances can help a fan to really understand an artist or even the other way round.
Concerts are today’s best method of earning revenue for recording artists. Kigali is developing a DIY scene that is really helping artists to monetize their talents.
If you’re leaving work and you’re planning to go catch up with your friend during that happy hour of the day, why not share that beer at a venue where there will be a Kigali artist performing?
You may have heard of Lavana in Kimihurura’s music events, Spoken Word Rwanda’s monthly shows or you might have even seen Underworra perform at Artery’s Do-It-Yourself (DIY) pop up gigs. Google these events if you’re not familiar with them and definitely check them out and practice that Word of Mouth (WoM) to support these your favorite up and coming future stars!
In conclusion, friends, while listening to multiple music projects from across the world, taking time to seek out Rwandan artists, to spread the word, and to go to their shows sounds like a cumbersome task to take on.
However, if you’re truly patriotic and passionate about ‘Made-in-Rwanda’ products as you have suggested on Twitter, then it’s a small price to pay.
Invest your time and money in local produce, or in this case, productions – water the fertile youths rising above the soil in your very own Rwanda Nziza.
The writer is a music entrepreneur and artist advocate from Kigali.