Reviews & Profiles
In the rap game to glorify his God
Posted Saturday, March 2 2013 at 02:00
Hip-hop: You heard him rap along to tracks like Yoga Yoga. But Ruyonga is not new to Uganda’s hip-hop scene. Once going by the stage name Krukid, he is back to make his mark on Uganda’s music scene and praise his God while at it.
He left for the United States in 2001 on what he assumed was a vacation. Edmund Ruyonga would eventually stay in the country, change to a student visa on recommendation of the family and study graphic design at Parkland College in the state of Illinois.
Before he left Uganda, he had been on the hip-hop scene and was known as Krukid. At the time, hip-hop here was Bataka Underground and Klear Kut (a five-member group that included Navio, JB and The Mith). To listen to any hip-hop, one would have to go to Open Mic events at places like Sabrinas and Dv8. At the time, Ruyonga was in high school. His parents were not supportive of this, as expected of many parents. Now, hip-hop has grown and, now that he is back, Ruyonga is growing along with it.
Ruyonga says he once encountered a quote “success is when opportunity meets preparation.” Before his performances, he goes over his lyrics for articulation and the right emotions. He speaks with a slight American accent but when he says “Kampala” “Luganda”, he articulates it as it should be, in seemingly unaffected and what can be assumed as proper Luganda. He works hard and attributes his current understanding of Luganda to music.
“It has given me an opportunity to learn.” Genealogically, he is a Munyoro/Munyankore and cannot speak Runyoro nor Runyankore as confidently as he does Luganda. He tries to incorporate Luganda now because he had “done everything and there was no more challenge.” The current challenge is not just to entertain the audience but also to have lyrics that is said right, makes sense and flows through the language mixes.
Spoken word poet
The music industry is a very busy one and very hard to break through. When he returned to Uganda, few people knew who he was and many probably still don’t. If you have been to Kwivuga, a poetry and hip-hop event, you have most probably seen him.
He is more of a poet and spoken word artiste than his professional graphic designer role. He calls it his “proper job” while music, he feels, is “an extension of me.” To gain the ground he now enjoys, Ruyonga made the most of his connections like JT, Navio, The Mith and others who also double as his friends. He performed at Kwivuga, Hip Hop lounge, charity events, Open Mic, Friday Night Live amongst others.
He also maintained a presence on radio and on social media. Ruyonga is arguably one of the most active artistes in Uganda on social media, and he handles his accounts personally. “I might have to get someone to deal with them because it gets busier, but I still would regularly check and reply to people myself.”
From Krukid back to Ruyonga
Musicians have been associated with all kinds of habits and language that is not in accordance with the vibrant and zealous Christian movements. To become born-again would change one’s life in the art and Ruyonga was not any different. The musician formerly known as Krukid changed his name to Ruyonga two years ago. He says that he was in a better place personally and comfortable to perform on a stage as himself.
He also does not envision sitting at a dinner table with his family and his children knowing him as Krukid. There have been compromises and he talks about performing in clubs at night, something that does not sit well with his current beliefs. But as a musician, he says he “makes the most of opportunities. That is how to reach an audience.” However, he prays before every performance. He talks about God in weighty discussions. He raps about God. He has also said before that he is in the rap game to glorify God above all else.
Collaboration with other artistes
Ruyonga describes working on the Yoga song as a “great experience.” While he is wary about giving his two cents on the disagreement that would have Yoga removed as the Jubilee song, he speaks well of the work. “The concept came from one person but we all wrote the parts that we rapped and sang.” He thinks that collaborations would go a long way to building the potential that is Uganda’s young music industry.
He is currently working on his music video for Tutuuse. It will be his first video and will be shot in South Africa. For a champion of Uganda, it appears unusual that he would decide to do this in South Africa.
He explains though that he has not found a person or agency that would satisfactorily do the job. “There is a guy who is really good with the camera and then another who is really creative. I would need them to collaborate and work together for this.” He predicts that eventually he might have to bring the two together in the future, instead of having to travel.