BRYAN KIMENYI gets in touch with Rwanda’s rap phenomenon.
On 15th April 1982, Tembue Ololo and Musungayi Maggie gave birth to Tembue Demsu.
Little did they know that their son would later become a rap star. The vowels would be extracted from his second name and he would become DMS.
Like many other local musicians, DMS was raised in one of the neighbouring countries, the former Zaire. At the age of eight he travelled to Belgium, where he had his first introduction to music singing for the church choir. He sang alto for the congregation until 1994 when he returned to Africa.
In the mid 90s, Tupac Shakur was a major inspiration to many of today’s musicians. DMS wasn’t left behind. He tries to relate every bit of his music to the man he says is “the best rapper ever.”
His favorite track by the late American rapper is ‘War Stories’. DMS produced his first song at the age of fifteen and decided to make it big four years ago, when he produced a first song with J.P, one of Rwanda’s pioneer producers.
DMS wants to take Rwanda’s hip-hop to another level.
“When people talk about hip-hop, what comes to every one’s mind is that of the US and Tanzania. I want to create a place for our country in the standings,” he says.
DMS has graced many concerts around the Great Lakes Region; two of the concerts were his own. One was in his birth town of Bukavu and the other in Rwanda. He has also done performances in Kinshasa and Brussels.
His greatest disappointment on stage was during the last Pan African Dance Festival (FESPAD). “I’d prepared something big for the crowd, and on that fateful day I lost my voice,” he remembers.
There is, however, a constant disappointment that is tearing his heart, and many other performers; the crowd.
“When musicians from the region and abroad perform along side us, they respect what we do. But when we are on stage, the crowd tends to give so much support to the foreign artists and yet we are their own,” he complains.
Nyamirambo is DMS’s borough and also favourite place to perform. He gives praise to the love he gets from students in secondary schools.
“A big number of our fans are from these schools, and they are on their feet every time I am on stage.”
Despite certain set backs, he advises his fellow musicians to keep on moving because he says, “We have gone a long and fruitful distance to give up.”
The 26 year old rapper appreciates the works of Rwandese musicians though he is not an ardent fan of any of his peers.
Regionally he is taken up by the style of Kenyan rap icon-Prezzo but confesses his respect for Tanzanian crooner Professor J. He listens to old-school music in his free time.
Currently DMS is finishing his computer science studies at the Adventist University of Central Africa, and is busy writing his dissertation. He thanks God who has enabled him fulfill his dream of music and education.
However, what has kept DMS going most of his career is his family. “My dad paid for the production of my first two songs and the video, he still supports me in all my career endeavours.
My mum will continue to be the first lady of my life; I heed to her advise.” The other factor that keeps him moving is the encouragement people give him every hour and then.
His first CD entitled ‘Peace’ is selling like hot cakes. Of the 1000 CDs put on the market six months ago, over six hundred have sold. He is now doing another album, ‘The Show’, with Barrick, another promising music producer.
He has an ambition of releasing more than six albums, to match the six different languages (English, French, Kinyarwanda, Lingala, Swahili, and Kiluba) he speaks.
Every man with a large following is expected to have someone in his life. This isn’t the case for DMS. A month ago, he let go of his two year relationship so that he could concentrate on his career and dissertation. “I don’t plan to be involved with any one soon,” he confides.
“Live your life as much as possible,” is a philosophy that keeps the promising artist on his feet. “I try to make use of every minute of my stay on this world such that I don’t become a loser,” he adds.