Entre 2 album review: Who is Eric 1Key?

Credit: Innovation Village
Photo credit: Innovation Village

Eric 1Key (real name Eric Ngangare) is one of Rwanda’s most exceptional creative talents. He is a multi-lingual hip-hop poet, spoken word artist, blogger, actor and advocate of Kigali’s blossoming live music scene. Born to a Rwandan mother and Congolese father, 1Key has lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda – where he lives today. Between November 2014 and February 2015 – and while living in Kampala, Uganda – 1Key created his debut album Entre 2 (“Between Two”).

Entre 2 – which boasts eleven carefully constructed tracks – is reflective of complex contradictions and dichotomies in 1Key’s own life. Throughout the album, we hear multiple voices singing and rapping in Kinyarwanda, French and English – as well as in Kiswahili and a bit of Lingala – reflecting the new Kigali today. Indeed, Rwanda’s capital city is home to vast numbers of Rwandan returnees, who grew up in neighbouring countries – as well as in Europe and North America – and then returned to Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide, speaking a variety of different languages.

As a PhD researcher interested in musical connections between Kigali and Kampala, I have enjoyed the privilege of getting to know Eric. Through his album, 1Key took me on a journey through a world of traditional Rwandese melodies, soulful folk, celebratory rock, bouncy reggae beats, and conscious hip-hop poetry. He introduced me to Rwandan and Ugandan music producers and artists – with whom he collaborated with on the album – who live in Rwanda, Uganda, France, Sweden, the UK and Canada. But most importantly, 1Key helped me to translate and “decode” his words. His poetic, playful, multi-layered, seductive, defiant, honest words.

I hope that this series of eleven song reviews – complete with lyric translations and audio links – enhances your understanding of 1Key’s outstanding album, and that you enjoy it as much as I do.


Entre 2 is available on Soundcloud – Entre2 and for sale on digital stores iTunesSpotify, and Amazon.

Eric 1key is very active on social media where you can find him discussing and debating all kinds of things. For updates and live info, follow Eric1key on Twitter: @eric1key, Facebook: Facebook/eric1key, Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/eric1key or email for bookings at ericonekey@gmail.com

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