Despite the local hip-hop genre not doing so well lately in the local music scene, not all is lost.
As the music industry gradually progresses, a new breed of energetic young Afro-hip hop musicians is pushing for the genre to be recognised, inspite of the persistent challenges.
It is noticeable how the same artistes’ music is played in most local radio stations.
Green Ferry Music is a vibrant record label gradually making waves for its consistency in staging small events, through which it unveils various rising rappers.
Since its inception in 2012, the platform boasts of flourishing acts like Ice Nova, Bushali The Trigger, Prime Mazimpaka, B-They, Maktain among others.
But this hasn’t been an easy road, as the journey of getting these acts to be known is one riddled with huddles according to Ngangi, a producer at Green Ferry. “With barely a presence in broadcast media, event organisers or clubs can’t provide us with an opportunity to express ourselves or even stage our own shows,” he said.
Since signing with Green Ferry, Ice Nova has written a couple of songs, but always faced challenges.
“I could hardly pay for a recording, since I was still in school, yet the few studios available then weren’t that receptive to rising talent,” he said.
Having recently launched Ubuvanganzo, his debut album, which constitutes of 15 songs, his two-year journey with Green Ferry is one he cherishes.
Ice Nova said the hip-hop genre still faces challenges of lack of promotion and marketing. Most radio and television stations barely provide room for rising afro-hip hop acts.
Aboubakar Mukara better known as DJ Adams, a long-time radio presenter, said this is partly attributed to the fact that in society, hip-hop is still perceived as a genre dominated by drug addicts and criminals. This is evident even through media, where lately, some of the top artists have been charged with violence and drug-related crimes.
“It is strange how there is barely any growth of artists,” said Maktain, who is also a rapper. Maktain said a musician is termed as rising or upcoming for several years, which doesn’t reflect any growth within the industry.
Broadcast Media to blame
“The media no longer digs deeper into searching for new talent,” said Prime Mazimpaka, also a rapper, “Most radio and television stations are quite comfortable with already existing musicians,” he adds.
Rwanda Today has learnt that many top musicians bribe their way to dominate radio or television playlists. Rising hip-hop acts, who are struggling to pay for studio sessions and getting their music on playlists gets trickier each a day according to Mazimpaka.
“This is real, but it isn’t limited to only hip-hop acts, but the entire music industry,” said DJ Adams. With a culture of most big acts bribing their way to fame, it explains why there is still a limited number of female musicians especially in hip-hop, with some of them being asked for sexual favours by media and events promoters.
Mazimpaka blames local Rwandan DJs for not doing enough to promote local music. “We do release several albums, but even when you reach out to DJs in most clubs, they don’t want to hear us out and would rather play foreign music,” he adds.
DJ Adams said most rising artistes should create authentic and violence free music. “We do listen to some of these songs and most contain vulgar lyrics, which we cannot play on radio,” he said.
There is also a need for event organisers and established artistes to also seek and promote rising acts according to DJ Adams.