The biggest music event of the year, Primus Guma Guma Super Star season 4, comes to an end next week on Saturday and it is no secret that hip-hop diva Young Grace and hoarse voiced rapper Amag the Black have had a good run in the competition. Although they are not among the top three, they say that hard work and dreaming big are some of the main ingredients to success.
"If I have food and shelter, I will be fine" -Amag the Black
How would you describe yourself as an artiste?
I’m a hip-hop artiste who puts hard work before anything. I like interacting with my fans and making them laugh. I consider myself an artiste on a mission to leave a lasting legacy in the world.
How do you handle different personas on and off stage?
It’s kind of difficult because in a way it makes someone feel like they are living a double life. Whether you are having a bad day or not, when you step onto the stage you have to give it your best and smile. However I try to balance the two personas by being Amani Hakizimana at home and being Amag the Black on stage.
If you could ask yourself one future question, what would it be?
What is my destiny?
What is your life mantra?
It is a not a mantra per se but a set of principles that I follow; hard work, respect and a belief that no man is an island.
What type of message(s) do you put in your songs?
I try to put messages that appeal to everyone. For example in my song, Igifu, I tell people how the stomach is the driving force for hard work and in Urupfu, I tell people to worry about what mark they will leave behind when they die. These lessons apply to everyone and not to a specific category.
What is your ideal holiday destination?
I would love to go to France.
If you were stranded on an island, what important items would you want with you?
As long as I have food and a place to sleep, I don’t think I would need anything.
What is the best surprise you have ever done for someone?
I surprised my mother by making her a meal. Everyone thought I didn’t know how to cook. She was very happy.
As an artiste, what is your main ambition?
I have three main targets. I want to grow and be an international artiste. I also want to make investments and be a successful business man but my main target is to change society by delivering positive messages through my songs.
"localy made movies are more realistic"-Young Grace
What inspired you into singing?
I have always loved music. When I was young, I was in a church choir and my family likes music too. However, it was during my high school days when friends encouraged me to start singing after hearing me do freestyle raps in the dormitory.
Do you write your own songs?
I do write my own songs but sometimes my brother helps me out. I like writing late in the night when it’s quiet or early in the morning when I’m still fresh. My writing ideas are inspired by different things. Sometimes when I listen to a nice a beat, I start flowing with it. Also, I might see something that happens in everyday life or someone says something and I immediately get an idea to write about.
Do you use social media to interact with your fans?
I have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts where I interact with my fans. I occasionally engage them in discussions about society and other general situations. I also urge them to continue voting for me.
What is your favourite movie?
I don’t have any specific movie that I would say I like the most although I like romantic movies produced from Rwanda and Tanzania. The reason for this is that I can easily relate with the story because they are more realistic than western movies which have exaggerated scenarios.
Do you ever feel challenged by other artistes? If so, how do you deal with it to get ahead?
The music industry is a business and there’s no business without competition. I will feel challenged but I will not run to the studio to also record a song. It will motivate me to think hard but I will not panic and fail to follow my plan.
Have you ever stood your ground when someone wanted to change your idea about a song?
I always do that with my producers but it’s usually more of a brainstorming session. Eventually we always come to a consensus but usually my idea has a bigger percentage in the formulation of the song
Do you try out new singing styles to see how flexible you can be?
I try out new singing styles especially from my studio. I have some zouk songs but I haven’t released them. I do that a lot and that is why, in my song, Bingo, I have only one part where I rap. The other parts I’m just singing.
Do you listen to people’s opinions with an open mind?
I like it when people are open with me about my music but there are times when it is difficult to listen to them. This happens usually after a performance when a person is exhausted. Usually I tell that person to be patient and talk to me later but I like it when people talk to me and give me advice.
If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?
I would remove the tattoo I have on my left arm. I put it back in the day when I was still crazy but now I think of what my future child will think of their mother having a tattoo. Or what would happen if I was made a leader today? A leader with a tattoo? No.