The disenchanting news this week, of local hip-hop artist Tuyishime Joshua aka Jay Polly battering his wife shouldn’t be allowed to shadow the otherwise impressive growth in Rwanda’s music industry characterized by improved quality of videos.
On Music Channel Trace Urban (East Africa), songs by two Rwandan artists are currently dominating the charts with Meddy & Ben’s Lose Control duet playing at number one and Knowless Butera’s ‘Mbaye Wowe’ at number five, thanks to their top-quality video productions.
Perhaps unsurprising given his personality as an alleged wife beater, Jay Polly is among the local big names that appear stunted, failing to produce a cross-border hit good enough to capture regional attention despite the ferocity with which he has been belting it out into the microphone for years.
To an extent, one may place the blame on the Rwf24million Primus Guma-Guma grand prize which appears to have madepast winners relaxed, falsely believing that ‘they have arrived.’ I have noticed artistes whose talent had potential to go international, fade away, upon winning it.
You have to look at the trend of previous winners to create a fair context for this frame of analysis. Pick on artists like Tom Close (2011), King James (2012), Riderman (2013) or Urban boys in 2016; you will notice that their passion appears to have generally dwindled after winning.
In 2014, Jay Polly won the coveted Primus Guma-Guma prize and seeing how the streets were jammed that night by his braggadocio fans, one could not argue with an assertion then, that he was Rwanda’s most influential hip-hop artiste especially among teenagers.
Yet, four years later, one is hard pressed to name three decent records the Nyamirambo based hardcore rapper has produced, good enough to capture attention beyond local radios.
There has been talk of an impending collabo with Nigeria’s Davido,but the media mismanagement around the project even before it is released is likely to affect the duet’s commercial success for the rapper who urgently needs to taste regional feat like his peers.
For instance, in May, the rapper gave a beach-side TV interview in which he claimed the audio to the collabo titled ‘Money’ was ready and he would soon fly to Nigeria for the video shoot.
Meanwhile, the alleged audio has since been prematurely released, poorly mixed and mastered, and is littered all over YouTube but there’s hardly any Davido on the beat that is too Nigerian for Jay Polly’s hip-hop credentials.
The collabo was first announced when Davido was in Kigali for a performance and the Nigerian gave the local rapper courtesy endorsement on stage, to which Jay Polly revealed an upcoming project with the guest artiste, sending his fans into a frenzy.
So, Jay should be in the news to update us on the release date for that project. Instead, he is in the news, fighting accusations of beating his wife.
I think Jay Polly is a case of poor talent management in our music industry that has made so much progress in the last decade but still has a long way to go, especially in terms of getting to a level of professional management of performing artistes.
Now here is Jay Polly, failing at beating musical drums and now crafting himself the nefarious image of a violent husband and wife beater, in a country where women are revered, in a country that is regarded as one of the safest place for girls and women to live and thrive.
I saw Berna Namata’s irked tweet calling on the Ministry of Justice to do something. In another Tweet, Rama Isibo suggests that the rapper be placed on national community service, working with the police to hold concerts around the country, spreading anti-GBV awareness messages.
It sounds like a great idea. Considering his popularity around the country, the authorities have a responsibility of not just helping reconcile the young rapper’s family, but also avoiding to send a message that a local celebrity can get away with assault especially against women.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.