Jay Polly loved his brush and acrylic but lived off music

Thursday September 16 2021
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Rapper Jay Polly during one of his painting sessions in Kigali. The Artist was in plans of balancing careers. PHOTO | ANDREW. I KAZIBWE


Joshua Tuyishime alias Jay Polly, who died on September 2 aged 33 at Muhima Hospital, where he has been admitted following a health complication he suffered while at Mageragere Prison in Kigali where he was in detention, as he awaited trial, was known more for his music than his visual art.

Jay Polly developed his love for visual art at Group Scolaire, Kicukiro (ESK) between 2004 and 2008, and later joined Ivuka Art gallery. Here he met young artists like Jean Bosco Bakunzi, Collin Sekajugo, Fabien Akimana, and Augustine Hakizimana, where he practiced painting.

Tuyishime’s artforms were semi-abstract and abstract. But as he painted, Tuyishime was further drawn by his love for hip-hop and rap too.

After saving approximately Rwf2 million from painting sales, he recorded music. He is known for songs such as Ndacyariho Ndahumeka, Malaika, Deux Foi Deux, and Oh my God.

Jay Polly’s rise was majorly through the Tuff Gangs, a local hip hop group, which comprised of Bull Dogg, Fireman, Green P, and P-Fla He also worked with musicians, from various music genres like Urban Boys, AmaG the Black, Uncle Austin, Bruce Melodie, King James, Khalfan, and Marina.

This earned him numerous gigs to performances, nominations and awards such as the 2014 Primus Guma Guma Super Star Award.


The rapper further recorded five albums Umwami uganje (2012), Iwacu (2012), Rudasumbwa (2013), Ikosora (2014), and Ubuzima Bwanjye (2016.

These secured the self proclaimed Kabaka, Umwami wa Hiphop or King of hiphop a place, even among most youth.

His sixth album Nta Mpaka (2017) addresses the changes and challenges facing Rwanda’s music industry, particularly in the hip-hop sector, which has lost its glitter in recent years.

The most recent released song, Ubutunzi, is a gospel song that featured fellow musicians Gisa Cyinganzo and Comfort People Ministries, urges the public to focus more on God than earthly possessions.

He is said to have been working on something with Nigerian star Davido. But in 2015 he surprised many when together with Augustine Hakizimana they staged a joint 50-paintings art exhibition dubbed Rural and Urban progress from March 14 to April 14 at Uburanga Art Centre in Kigali. He leaves behind two children.