22-year-old Angel Mutoni is a rapper who prefers being referred to simply as artiste. As she waits to go back to school and study “something that has music element,” she is making music and performing gigs. Stephen Kalimba had a chat with her.
Who’s Angel Mutoni?
People say I am a rapper; I can say I am an artiste because I try to do as many things as possible—sing, rap and poetry. I was born in Uganda and came to Rwanda when I was three years-old, but left for Canada when I was six. I returned home when I was 14.
How did you manage the change of environment?
I adapt quickly, so it wasn’t hard. The only difficult thing was making new friends; I and my younger brother missed our friends. Our father always forced us to speak Kinyarwanda, so we followed every conversation.
What’s your music back ground?
My dad is a musician from back in the day. He did Afro-Punk but quit to do other things. I think I got this from him.
In Canada, my uncle did shows to make ends meet and I watched him perform. I knew I wanted to do music but didn’t know what to do in music because I didn’t have a voice; and I didn’t know to play instruments. Back then, I didn’t know there was rap or hip hop. All I did was write poems and songs. When I came back, I heard no friends so I only listened and wrote music.
Gradually that’s when I realized that I wanted to be a musician.
At 14, I started singing for fun, I never told anyone. I could never sing in front of anyone, not even my dad. I was shy; it’s a surprise that I can now go on stage.
When did you go hip hop?
The first time I did a rhyme was at the Spoken Word in 2011, after that I thought I could do it. I performed some one’s song and everyone said, ‘oh you can rap.’ I said it wasn’t something I want to do and they said ‘you should do it!’ A friend invited me to his studio to record and that’s when, my first song, Bad Girl Swag came out.
Everybody that knows me told to forget everything else and do hip hop.
Who influenced you?
I love Lauryn Hill. She came to perform here in 2010. My dad knew that I liked her, so when she was here, it was late but he allowed me to go. Other than that, I get influenced by anything that sounds good. For Rwandan music, I listened to Cécile Kayirebwa, Jean-Christophe Matata and Jean-Paul Samputu.
What influenced the sound of the song, Up?
I told my producer that I liked something old school beat groovy, smooth and laid-back. People say hip hop should be energetic but that’s not the hip hop I like. My producer gave me that beat and I jumped at it. I wrote to it right then and there.
I’m not against change but I’m also old school. Sometimes it’s good to have something energetic because you are tired and you don’t want to be thinking and concentrating a lot. I’m okay with some of it but other than that I want music that has a message.
What is your dream?
I want to go to school, be successful and inspire people. I want to write something somebody can connect with.
A word to upcoming artistes:
Persistence; believe in yourself and stay true to yourself. People will tell you to change this and that but whether you’re an emcee or a painter, stay true. Real fans want you to evolve, and be personal with them. Whoever connects with is a real fan.