Entre 2 Album Review: Apprenti_Sage

Track 1: Apprenti_Sage (“Wise Apprentice/Learning”)

Apprenti_Sage is the album’s opening track. Drawing on the Rwandan tradition of Kwivuga, which literally means bragging, 1key introduces and asserts himself as a poet and as an artist, who terrorizes his enemies! Within the tradition of Rwandan praise poetry there are numerous specialist sub-genres, including the poetry of dynasty, the poetry of farmers, and amahamba (“the praising of cows”). According to 1key: “Kwivuga was everybody’s poetry”. Created and performed by men and boys, kwivuga is about lineage and ego: “it’s about knowing who you are and ensuring that others know too” (1Key). In this case, 1Key identifies himself as the son of his personal hero, his late Grandfather Ngangare Rugambwa. Continue reading “Entre 2 Album Review: Apprenti_Sage”

Entre 2 album review: Virtually Yours

Track 4: Virtually Yours ft. Ricky Password & Mhinganzima 

While A L’Africaine (Iwacu) expresses 1Key’s romantic nostalgia for a time before apps and gadgets, the album’s following track throws us forwards into a celebration of online space and its capacity for enabling love and musical collaboration. Virtually Yours narrates an online love story, with the feel-good mood being inspired by Ray Charles’s influential song What’d I Say (1959). Recorded at audio-producer Barick’s home-studio in Kigali, Virtually Yours is alive and upbeat. The free-feeling quality is achieved by the fast tempo, the strong backbeat of the drum kit, and the attack of the electric piano rhythms. We hear multiple voices singing in Kinyarwanda, French and English, reflecting the new Kigali today, where entwined linguistic and cultural influences feed into an increasingly diverse and interesting creative arts scene. Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: Virtually Yours”

Entre 2 album review: Politricks


Track 7: Politricks

According to 1Key, Politricks is his “most dangerous song because it’s not politically correct.” In Rwanda it is unusual (taboo, even) to directly and publicly talk (or sing) politics, unless to reinforce the status quo. And yet 1Key tells us: “Today I found its [politics] nose in my business, what should I do?/I’m sorry Mum, I will not keep quiet”. (Translated from French to English) Indeed, poetry is a medium through which we are able to experience how the personal is political. In his previous track (Entre 2), we learnt that 1Key values honesty, and that he exists “without filter between thought and speech.” In our conversations, 1Key told me: “I’m not into politics, but I’m sad to see the same stories over and over again”, an idea he articulates in Politricks when he asks the question: “How can we be so fooled when history repeats itself in a loop?” (Translated from French to English) Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: Politricks”

Entre 2 album review: Gêne-Aise

Track 9: Gêne-Aise ft. Cassa & Samy Kamanzi  

Powerful poetry is born out of pain. Enveloping us, it demands our full attention; creating a ripple of silence, our minds become consumed by the words. Our bodies are effected too: goose bumps on our arms, a lump in our throat, or a knot in our stomach. Perhaps a tear down our face. This is what I experienced when I watched 1Key perform Gêne Aise live for the first time on the #expericment. I understood how much this meant to my friend, and there was no way to escape his pain. And yet the pain was lightened by the pleasure of this shared experience. Through his music, 1Key brought us all together: an audience of friends and strangers, from Francophone Rwandans to Anglophone North Americans, to me, the emotional British anthropologist on my final evening of fieldwork! Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: Gêne-Aise”

Entre 2 album review: Universoul

Track 10: Universoul ft. Abaasa

Universoul is the ultimate track on the album. The collabo features Abaasa, a Ugandan music producer and (predominantly gospel) singer who lives in the UK. The artists connected on Twitter and began a conversation which progressed to Skype. Abaasa created the beats for the track and recorded his vocals for the chorus, which projects an uplifting, feel-good mood: Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: Universoul”