Every Sunday morning, Rwandan’s can’t help but listen to church-goers project a reverent sound that reflects the ethereal nature of this region.
Imana ishimwe Banyarwanda (“Praise the Lord Rwandans”) is a chant that fills the air.
Waking up to thoughts of how I can be most efficient in accomplishing the laundry list of tasks that I need to finish by the day’s end in order to feel like I’m not wasting an opportunity that is blessed and atypical.
Last night, Derrick Day, CEO of Day One Productions invited me to see his new artists, DMS, Young Tone, Usher Junior, Spiff D, and NG2020, perform at the School of Finance and Banking Miss. SFB 2010 Pageant.
After, we spoke about how few African-American travel internationally, particularly in Africa. The athlete and internationally-known producer is one of the New Jersey natives making a name for himself as the leading force behind Rwanda’s first record label.
Day One Productions recently registered in Rwanda Development Board’s (RDB) Gishushu office. The man is focused and poised to bring a bubbling underground hip-hop sound from Kigali to the ears and eyes of American hip hop heads.
It is about time, because a few people know about which live sounds are reverberating on the walls in Kimisagara, Nyamirambo, and Kacyiru for example.
Few are blessed to hear Tumi or Impande Core live in Vooslorus or Melville (South Africa), or J Polly, Tuff Gang, DMS, or Young Tone in Kigali. If Africans and African-Americans can come to know one another, there is no greater introduction than through music.
Derrick Day is not new to the music industry. From New Jersey to Washington, DC to Brooklyn, New York, Derrick has worked with many of the biggest names in hip hop, which makes his presence in the Land of a Thousand hills particularly pivotal to the music industry’s development and to the quality of production.
“Hip hop, you’re the love of my life” describes the mentality of most of us who grew up to it and as we grow so does it grow with us. Day One Productions will bring Rwandan urban perspective in English and hopefully even inspire some to visit East Africa to hear the Kinyarwandan flow in spaces ranging from Maison des Jeunes to Amahoro Stadium.
Speaking of Kinyarwandan hip-hop, Tuff Gang’s J. Polly (also an accomplished painter at Ivuka Arts Studio), is a twenty-one year-old lyricist who brings a distinctly Rwandan sound, reflecting his experiences in Gikondo, Butare and Gitarama.
He dropped his first album, ‘Tuff Gang Revolution’ with Tuff Gang artists; Bulldog, P Fla, Green Pea, and Fireman in January 2010, but has been at the mic since 2004.
“I talk about everyday life and the struggle for survival” says J. Polly.
He first hit radio airwaves with the song Kwicyuma or (“Progress”) in 2008 alongside life-long friend Green Pea. He is also known for the popular Ndacyariho (“I’m Still Alive”).
Hip hop came to J. Polly from his older brother who, like many, grew up listening to Nas, Biggie, and Tupac.
However, he also sighted Rwandan artists, Rugamba, Byunvuhore, Bob Marley and Morgan Heritage as sources of inspiration for content that is making him a name among Kigali youth and radio listeners in Rwanda.
J. Polly has become a great source of inspiration among the Rwandan youth. From a sample of some of his lyrics from Ndacyariho, a positive message is passed on.
Umushanji arota aarya yakwicura byahe byokajya irebera infubyi ntijya ihumbya ingorofani ihinduka indege uwimitwe abaye umutware umwamiahinolutse umwarimu ku isi nigatebe gatoki uramenye wiba umuheme.
‘The hungry man dreams about eating, but when raise up he finds nothing, but who cares for orphans and keeps eyes on the; a humbler can become a chief, The wheelbarrow can become a plane, but a king to become a primary teacher? On Earth, everything changes; don’t be selfish.’
J. Polly noted that, “It is now that Rwanda needs to emerge to the forefront of the international scene when the sounds from youth can be heard and freely express the realities of life in the newest member nation in the East African Community (EAC).”
Hopefully increasing attention that Rwanda is receiving through relations with the Commonwealth nations and the United Sates, the proliferation of hip hop musicians and other artists to represent Rwanda, and interested investors like Derrick Day, Rwanda will become a household name for the renaissance that is taking place more than for the loss, which we can never replace.