Le Miroir avec Eric 1key pour la TVR 

Published on November 24, 2016 by Davy Carmel and aired on Rwanda National Television

I watched Le Miroir for the first time out of the blue. I was in my office and Dorcy Rugamba, an great Rwandan playwright, was on it. That was enough for me to watch but little did I know I would want to be interviewed by Davy Carmel by the end of that episode. Another thing I did not know is that it was my mom’s favorite show. I guess you can imagine what it means to me when I say Momma I made it! Oh by the way, the show is in French. Donc si vous parlez un peu…

Entre 2 album review: En Root

Track 11: En Root (“In Root/En Route”)

The album’s message of a united humanity – which 1Key expresses in his previous song Universoul – nicely leads us into Entre 2’s reggae song: En Root (“In Root”). Over bouncy rhythms, the album’s entre deux (“between two”) motif persists until the end. As the title of the song suggests, 1Key is “in root”. The poet’s journey completes a full circle when he returns to his search for a connection to his “untraceable” roots. In the hook, 1Key sings in English:

“Take me to the roots of my family tree

Lead me to the truth and set me free

Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies

My shining star…”

1Key reveals that he emerges himself in technology “in order to get close to strangers/Hoping that the world will be better if we just accept to mix.” (Translated from French to English) The artist unsuccessfully tried to find himself through religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, traditions, and profession. In the end, 1Key tells us:

“I decided to embrace the fact that I’m this mass, or rather this mess that absorbs whatever the world throws at it, you know?

Who or what I am is no longer a big deal

I’m here and that’s all that matters…”

Breaking away slightly from his heritage, 1Key tells us that he has reinvented his personality. Rather than “in root”, he is now “en route”; the poet has “put the pieces together” and is on a new universoul journey…

entre-2_one-key_appreciations.png.png

With that, the piece transforms into 1Key’s appreciation song. The artist thanks his Grandfather, his mother, his aunties and his Uncle Faustin, who raised 1Key with his Grandfather. He also thanks his son. 1Key thanks music producers Barick, Junior Kafi, and Joe. He shows appreciation to the artists featured in the album: Dady Cassanova, Samy Kamanzi, Ricky Password, Brian Corpus, Jason Ntaro, Nono (Mhinganzima), and Natacha. He also thanks Tony Mwesigwa and Reniout Dujardin for “the amazing job on the cover”, and the founders of Spoken Word Rwanda (Diana and Betty) and Kwivuga Kampala (Nunu – who is also Rwandan). 1Key gives thanks to living legend Cecile Kayirebwa and her son Eric Soul, as well as Nelson, who invited 1Key to perform in Rwanda’s KigaliUp Festival for the first time. He thanks his colleagues and friends (Dorene, Colin and Josh) and members of Ze Clew: Kaneza, Fiona, Leah, PK, Dan, Gladys and Sam. Ze Clew is a WhatsApp group, with members from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. 1Key told me: “It’s a friendship group. The idea is for us to assist each other when travelling between these countries”.

Now here is my opportunity to thank you Eric 1Key! As an “outsider” in a country where privacy, distrust and caution have become normalised, I will be forever grateful for meeting you. Our first “interview” lasted for five intense hours! Since then, you have gifted me with many more hours of your time. Those were extremely busy days for you, with full time work, parenthood and preparation for your first live show. But patiently you helped me to translate all eleven tracks on your album. Your direct and open approach to discussion has taught me more than I could have imagined. It’s been a privilege; it’s been a lot of fun! Thank you for trusting me with your words.

Thank you, Merci, Murakoze!

Ceri Whatley

PhD African Studies/Anthropology of Music

University of Birmingham, UK

AHRC-M3C

 

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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Song lyrics and translations

En Root (“In Root”  [Track 11 on Entre 2 album]) 

Prod. Barick (Kigali). Vocals: Yego Studio (Kampala); English, French.

[Intro] [Intro]
Alright! Entre2 has been a beautiful journey Alright! Entre 2 has been a beautiful journey
Yeah. Lots of discovery Yeah. Lots of discovery
So I thought maybe we could take another small trip So I thought maybe we could take another small trip
What do you say? Right? Come with me What do you say? Right? Come with me
[Hook] [Hook]
Take me to the roots of my family tree Take me to the roots of my family tree
Lead me to the truth and set me free Lead me to the truth and set me free
Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies
My shining star My shining star
Take me to the roots of my family tree Take me to the roots of my family tree
Lead me to the truth and set me free Lead me to the truth and set me free
Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies
My shining star My shining star
Woyooo Woyooo
Woyooo Woyooo
[Verse1] [Verse1]
C’est le retour d’âge d’un adulte prématuré It’s the mid-life crisis of a premature adult
Les boots dans l’asphalte, en route, le parcours est inauguré I’ve got my boots on the road, en route, the journey has begun
Les yeux dans les étoiles, je cours après mon ombre My eyes are lost in the stars, I’m running after my shadow
Car retracer mon histoire c’est recoller les décombres Because walking on the path of my history, the whole of it is putting the pieces together
Mes traces ressemblent aux marques des pieds sur la plage My traces look like footprints in the sand
Aussi belles qu’elles paraissent, elles disparaissent avec la vague Although beautiful, they disappear with the waves of the ocean
Racines intraçables, je suis superficiel comme une algue My roots are untraceable, I’m superficial like algae
C’est haut du gratte-ciel que je cherche la base du baobab It’s from the top of a sky scraper that I’m looking for the base of the baobab
Sur cet arbre généalogique, je ne sais sur quelle branche m’accrocher On this genealogy tree, I don’t know which branch to hang on
Donc je me livre à la technologie pour me rapprocher des étrangers So I emerge myself in technology to get closer to strangers
Espérant le monde sera mieux si on acceptait tous de se mélanger Hoping that the world will be better if we just accept to mix
A peine la troisième generation des peuples soumis It’s only the third generation of a subjugated people
L’histoire de ma nation reste fondée sur un mythe The foundation of my nation’s story is a myth
Je crois pas qu’on ait apparu comme en un jour des champignons I don’t believe we appeared one day like mushrooms
C’est pourquoi je cherche mes souches comme le noyau de l’oignon This is why I’m looking for my layers, even though it seems like peeling an onion
 —
On perd la voie de nos ancêtres, l’occident profite We lose the way of our ancestors, and the West benefits from this
On se vend aux enchères depuis que le dollar est notre devise We auctioned ourselves since the dollar became our currency
Main d’oeuvre bon marché, l’Afrique reste en crise Man power is very cheap, so Africa’s economy remains in crisis
Les Etats se multiplient plus on se divise Countries multiply the more we divide
 —
[Hook] [Hook]
Take me to the roots of my family tree Take me to the roots of my family tree
Lead me to the truth and set me free Lead me to the truth and set me free
Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies
My shining star My shining star
Take me to the roots of my family tree Take me to the roots of my family tree
Lead me to the truth and set me free Lead me to the truth and set me free
Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies Save me from the dark, my world is full of lies
My shining star My shining star
[Appreciations] [Appreciations]
It’s funny how It’s funny how
I’ve been looking for myself all this time I’ve been looking for myself all this time
Only to realise that I was here the whole time  Only to realise that I was here the whole time
I tried to find myself through religion I tried to find myself through religion
Race, ethnicity, nationality, traditions, even profession Race, ethnicity, nationality, traditions, even profession
But none of these things worked out for me man But none of these things worked out for me man
So I reinvented my personality So I reinvented my personality
I decided to embrace the fact that I’m this mass, or rather this mess that absorbs whatever the world throws at it, you know? I decided to embrace the fact that I’m this mass, or rather this mess that absorbs whatever the world throws at it, you know?
Who or what I am is no longer a big deal Who or what I am is no longer a big deal
I’m here and that’s all that matters. I’m here and that’s all that matters.
So today I’m here to say thanks So today I’m here to say thanks
Because I don’t believe there is such a thing as self-made Because I don’t believe there is such a thing as self-made
We all need help from one another man We all need help from one another man
So I’m gonna start with my Grandpa – rest in peace beautiful soul. So I’m gonna start with my Grandpa – rest in peace beautiful soul.
Thank you for teaching me by simply being you. Thank you for teaching me by simply being you.
Thank you mom. I know you don’t know much about how I do what I do, but you believe in me. And that means a lot. Thank you Mum. I know you don’t know much about how I do what I do, but you believe in me. And that means a lot.
Thank you Tantine Chantal. You changed my life. Rest In Peace. I wish you were here. Thank you Tantine Chantal. You changed my life. Rest In Peace. I wish you were here.
Thank you Faustin. You’re my childhood everyday hero. Thank you for all the sacrifices. Thank you Faustin. You’re my childhood everyday hero. Thank you for all the sacrifices.
To my son. You’re my balance in this crazy world. I love you. I love you. I love you.  To my son. You’re my balance in this crazy world. I love you. I love you. I love you.
To all my aunties: Didine, Yvette and Mukaza, and even the other Didine. Thank you for being here and thank for making me feel special. Thank you for not judging me.  To all my aunties: Didine, Yvette and Mukaza, and even the other Didine. Thank you for being here and thank for making me feel special. Thank you for not judging me.
Yeah. I have a dream that one day we can sit around a table and laugh all together. Coz you know for sure we have so many comedians in the family.  Yeah. I have a dream that one day we can sit around a table and laugh all together. Coz you know for sure we have so many comedians in the family.
I also wanna thank Barick. You played a huge part in Entre2. I mean literally. I’m proud of you bro. I mean hang in there just a little bit, passion pays bro, it pays. I also wanna thank Barick. You played a huge part in Entre2. I mean literally. I’m proud of you bro. I mean hang in there just a little bit, passion pays bro, it pays.
Junior Kafi, your touch is divine bro. Keep doing what you do. Junior Kafi, your touch is divine bro. Keep doing what you do.
Dady Cassanova, Samy Kamanzi, Ricky Password, Body of Brian, Jason Ntaro, Nono, Natacha. Thank you so much for pouring your hearts on this project. Dady Cassanova, Samy Kamanzi, Ricky Password, Body of Brian, Jason Ntaro, Nono, Natacha. Thank you so much for pouring your hearts on this project.
Tony Mwesigwa, Reniout Dujardin. Thank you guys for the amazing job on the cover. I can never thank you enough. Tony Mwesigwa, Reniout Dujardin. Thank you guys for the amazing job on the cover. I can never thank you enough.
Diana, Betty, Spoken Word Rwanda, Nunu, Kwivuga Kampala, Cecile Kayirebwa, Eric Soul, Nelson, Kigali Up. Thank you for the vote of confidence. Diana, Betty: Spoken Word Rwanda, Nunu: Kwivuga Kampala, Cecile Kayirebwa, Eric Soul, Nelson, Kigali Up. Thank you for the vote of confidence.
Dorene, Colin, Josh, thank you for the support. Keep it real. Dorene, Colin, Josh: Thank you for the support. Keep it real.
Kaneza, Fiona, Leah, PK, Dan, Gladys, Sam, Ze Clew… oh Corey, yeah! Shout out to Ze Clew! Kaneza, Fiona, Leah, PK, Dan, Gladys, Sam, Ze Clew… oh Corey, yeah! Shout out to Ze Clew!
You’re my friends, you’re the friends that I’ve always wanted to have. So stay true. Keep it cool. I love you. Be happy. You’re my friends, you’re the friends that I’ve always wanted to have. So stay true. Keep it cool. I love you. Be happy.
And to everyone who shares my music on social media, I really appreciate. It means a lot to me.  And to everyone who shares my music on social media, I really appreciate. It means a lot to me.
Thanks to all you tweeps, to my friends on Facebook. Thanks to all you tweeps, to my friends on Facebook.
Ah! I don’t know! I don’t know where this music is gonna go, but I’m ready. I can let it take me wherever you wanna take me. Ah! I don’t know! I don’t know where this music is gonna go, but I’m ready. I can let it take me wherever you wanna take me.
Thanks everyone. Yego! Thanks Joe! Big up!   Thanks everyone. Yego! Thanks Joe! Big up!

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:

“I’m more than what you see

I’m free like the air you breathe

Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul

I’m untouchable like a dream

Unsolvable like a mystery

I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul

Universoul…”

Abaasa emailed the demo to 1Key, who remembers escaping a noisy bar to listen to it. He told me: “It has an 80’s feel. I was born in ‘81. It was exactly what I needed!” 1key laid his vocals in French, at Yego Studio in Kampala. The contrast between 1Key’s French verses – which are rapped poetically and with purpose – and the English chorus, with its cheerful, sing-a-long quality, creates a beautifully original mood. Abaasa returned to Uganda for the Christmas holidays and the two artists met in person for the first time. They finalised their song, which was mastered by Ugandan music producer Nelson.

Entre 2 is a coming-of-age album. As we progress through the tracks, 1Key explores the twisted roots of his heritage, in search of a meaningful identity. In Universoul, 1Key makes peace with his life history, carving pride and meaning out of shame and isolation. He proclaims:

“My birth, a result of accidental conception

 Is a beautiful error just like the creation of penicillin

Such a dreamer, I aspire to make a contribution to this life

As valid as that of Fleming in medicine

When I was a kid, I wanted to become a doctor

Today my poetry heals hearts.’”(Translated from French to English)

12508917_10208514607168019_3451147947400158773_n
Courtesy of Eric 1Key

Among the ambiguities of 1Key’s life, what becomes clear is the poet’s sense of self. 1Key has transitioned from “identity crisis” to a position of artistic certainty.

1Key is half-Rwandan and half-Congolese. He has lived in the DRC, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. As a multi-lingual artist and conscious citizen of the world – who accesses online space and engages with current global debates – 1Key is at once Rwandan, African, and in his own words: “Universoul”. He tells us:

 

“I am a delta between multiple rivers

Lots of cultures coexist in my system

I come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time

 I am a mixture of everything, neither homogenous nor heterogeneous

Human. That is the signature of my genes.” (Translated from French to English)

 

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Courtesy of Hope Azeda

This emphasis on a united Humanity, where entwined linguistic and cultural influences exist in harmony, is reflective of the hopes of many Kigalians today. In 2015, I witnessed the birth of Rwanda’s Ubumuntu Arts Festival, which brings different artists from around the world to Kigali. The festival is the brainchild of Hope Azeda, the founder and Artistic Director of Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company.  Hope and I discussed what it means to be Rwandan today. She told me:

 

“So this is the Rwandan thing! We know that we speak different languages, and that we are a diverse culture, and the audience connects to that a lot. I think our differences make us strong. It has become very musical!” (Hope Azeda, 22 July 2015)

Ubumuntu means “being human”, and the festival responds to issues on a national and regional, but also global scale. Hope told me:

“It’s about restoring humanity in a world where humanity is facing extinction… it is a subject that is faceless. It’s not white, it’s not black… it has no religion, you know? Or it’s a mirror for every religion. So for me that’s why people love it. Humanity is a universal gift, but we abuse it…” (Hope Azeda, 22 July 2015)

While it true that 1Key is interested in politics, he makes it clear that he is not a politician. Despite embracing his Rwandan cultural identity, 1Key told me: “nationalities are over-rated! They are the cause of wars…” He raps:

“I am liberal and my world is not a third party

 I am far away from your imaginary boundaries that create real enemies

Away from your “united nations” to exploit the vulnerable ones and racial divisions of your “united states”…” (Translated from French to English)

In the words of 1Key himself:

1Key

1World

1Love

Let us continue to spread the word…

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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Song lyrics and translations

Universoul ft. Abaasa [Track 10 on Entre 2 album] 

Prod. Abaasa (UK), mastered by Nelson (Uganda). Vocals: Yego Studio (Kampala); French, English.

[Verse 1: Eric 1key] [Verse 1: Eric 1key]
Je suis brillant de nature I am brilliant by nature
C’est pas le talent dans l’écriture It’s not the writing skills
Les phares, les voitures The headlights, the cars
Les projecteurs des stades The stadium beams
Le bling bling ou le swag, qui font de moi une star The bling bling or the swag, that make me a star
Je suis né à la belle étoile I was born under the stars
A l’aurore du dernier jour d’Avril At the aurora of the last day of April
A l’aube du premier jour de Mai And the dawn of the first day of May
A la fin de la saison de pluies, mais crois pas que je suis né de la dernière At the end of the rainy season, but don’t you think that I was born yesterday
Je suis un delta entre plusieurs rivières lointaines I am a delta between multiple distant rivers
Plein de cultures cohabitent dans mon système Lots of cultures coexist in my system
Je viens de nulle part, en même temps de partout I come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time
Je suis un mélange de tout, ni homogène ni hétérogène I am a mixture of everything, neither homogenous nor heterogeneous
Humain avant tout, c’est la signature de mes genes Human. That is the signature of my genes
Des fois j’ai l’impression que mon existence est une conspiration universelle Sometimes I have a feeling my life was conspired by the universe
Car ma naissance suite à une conception accidentelle My birth, a result of accidental conception
Est une belle erreur comme la création de la pénicilline Is a beautiful error just like the creation of penicillin
Reveur, j’aspire à faire une contribution dans cette vie Such a dreamer, I aspire to make a contribution to this life
Aussi valide que celle de Fleming en médecine As valid as that of Fleming in medicine
Quand j’étais petit, je voulais devenir docteur When I was a kid, I wanted to become a doctor
Aujourd’hui ma poésie soigne les coeurs Today my poetry heals hearts
Si tu veux savoir qui je suis, tu me trouveras If you want to know who I am, you will find me
Parmi ceux qui croient que le hasard fait bien des miracles Among those who believe that everything happens for a reason, however random
[Chorus: Abaasa] [Chorus: Abaasa]
I’m more than what you see I’m more than what you see
I’m free like the air you breathe I’m free like the air you breathe
Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul I’m unstoppable, I’m untouchable, universoul
I’m untouchable like a dream I’m untouchable like a dream
Unsolvable like a mystery Unsolvable like a mystery
I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul, universoul, universoul
Universoul… Universoul…
[Verse 2: Eric 1key] [Verse 2: Eric 1key]
J’ai pas le front patriotique, ni le derrière merdique des politiques I do not push patriotism upfront like dirty ass politicians
Mes organes n’ont votre sens du sacrifice My organs do not have your sense of sacrifice
J’ai l’syndrome John Q, je ne donnerai mon coeur qu’à mon fils I have John Q syndrome, I would only give my heart to my son
J’veux pas d’édifice à mon effigie quand je serai parti I do not want structures in my effigy when I am gone
Je veux pas qu’on me traite de héros, nombreux sont morts pour des faux idéaux I do not want to be treated as a hero, many died for false ideals
Je paris qu’ils se retournent au fond de leurs tombes quand ils observent ce qu’on a fait de ce monde I bet they roll over in their graves when they see what we have done to this world
Je suis pas international, je crois pas aux frontières I am not international, I think not at the borders
Je suis plutôt libéral et mon monde n’est pas un tiers I am liberal and my world is not a third party
Loin de vos limites imaginaires qui créent des réels ennemis I am far away from your imaginary boundaries that create real enemies
Loin de vos nations unies pour exploiter les plus démunis et des divisions raciales de vos états unis Je m’évade à travers les couloirs de la vie Away from your “united nations” to exploit the vulnerable ones and racial divisions of your “united states” I escaped through the corridors of your life
Mon âme slalome vers mon étoile, viens si t’as envie, mon univers est infini My soul roams towards my star, join if you want, my universe is infinite
Mon hymne est un freestyle au rythme de mon coeur My anthem is a freestyle on the rhythm of my heartbeat
Mon drapeau tout comme ma peau n’a pas de couleur My flag, just like my skin, is colourless
Je suis fait d’eau, de terre, d’air mais aussi de lueur I am made of water, earth, air but also light
C’est pourquoi tout comme ces astres au milieu Des ruines et des désastres je brille de mille feux That is why just like celestial bodies, in the middle of ruins and disasters, I shine bright
[Chorus: Abaasa] [Chorus: Abaasa]
I’m more than what you see I’m more than what you see
I’m free like the air you breathe I’m free like the air you breathe
Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul I’m unstoppable, I’m untouchable, universoul
I’m untouchable like a dream I’m untouchable like a dream
Unsolvable like a mystery Unsolvable like a mystery
I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul, universoul, universoul
Universoul… Universoul…
[Outro: Eric 1key] [Outro: Eric 1key]
Je suis apatride pas métis I am stateless not half-caste
Mon esprit ski entre les galaxies My spirit skis between galaxies

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)

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Courtesy of Eric 1Key

While Entre 2 narrates the story of a “Hero” and a “Coward”, Politricks explores disparities between the powerful and the powerless, or between “the voices” and “the voiceless.” (Translated from French to English) As a conscious “citizen of the world” – who accesses online space and engages with current global debates – 1Key addresses subjects such as: cosmopolitanism, patriotism, Pan-Africanism, Black Power and Democracy. In Politricks, 1Key inserts selected quotations about politics, which he has found online, in addition to his own words. For example: “Democracy means “you are free to talk” and dictatorship means “shut the fuck up”…” And: “But remember that “in parliament, there is talk and lies” ~ Léon Campion.” (Translated from French to English) 1Key has also borrowed the colloquial term Politricks – the word ‘politics’ altered to convey the empty-campaign promises often experienced after politicians get elected – for the title of this track.

Like Entre 2, Politricks is heavily influenced by hip-hop and exudes a serious and dramatic mood. The robotic effects on 1Key’s vocals contribute to the sinister quality of the track, while perhaps also representing the passive and obedient nature of many Rwandans – an issue that 1Key explores in Entre 2. In the opening lines 1Key tells us: “Welcome to Politricks/I’m going to teach you everything…/…that you already know Mouahahahahahahaha!” And later in the hook:

“Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control

Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote

Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control

Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote.”   

Here, the question of language reappears. It is interesting that the hook is in English, while the verses are in French. English is the language of Rwanda’s current political elite, while also being a “cool” and “trendsetting” language. On the other hand, French is the language closer to 1Key’s soul. 1Key told me that he prefers to rap in French; he enjoys how French words sound and was inspired by mostly Francophone rappers and poets. The use of language is effective, then, in widening the division between 1Key’s emotive and defiant voice in the verses, and the “zombie-like” citizens in the hook.

1Key wrote Politricks when he was living in Kampala, Uganda. The production was a collaborate effort between Joe, at Yego Studio in Kampala, and Barick, at the producer’s home studio in Kigali. 1Key recently performed Politricks live for the first time. (Check the video link below, from 09:13)

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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Song lyrics and translations

Politricks [Track 7 on Entre 2 album] 

Prod. Barick (Kigali). Vocals: Yego Studio (Kampala); English, French.

[Intro] [Intro]
Welcome to Politricks Welcome to Politricks
I’m going to teach you everything… I’m going to teach you everything…
… that you already know Mouahahahahahahaha!  … that you already know Mouahahahahahahaha!
   
[Verse 1] [Verse 1]
Dans mon esprit In my mind
J’ai le charisme de mon grand-père, toujours véridique I have the charisma of my Grandfather, always truthful
Dans mes oreilles In my ears
J’ai les conseils de ma mère “Te mêle jamais de la politique” I hear my Mother’s advice “never get into politics”
Aujourd’hui j’ai trouvé son nez dans mes affaires, que faire? Today I found its nose in my business, what should I do?
Je suis désolé m’man, j’vais pas m’taire I’m sorry Mum, I will not keep quiet
Faire semblant et être complice de ses malices Turn a blind eye and be an accomplice of its malice
C’est parce que je cours des risques que t’écoutes ce disque If you can hear this record it’s because I take risks
Enfant seul, je veux dire fils unique Lonely child, I mean only son
Je navigue sans guide depuis que je suis petit I sail with no guide since I was a child
Comme le messie, je fais partie d’aucun parti politique Like the Messiah, I am part of no political party
Liberal, je flotte dans ma bulle poétique Liberal, I float in my poetic bubble
Faudra un dico à certains de mes compatriotes pour qu’ils My countrymen need a dictionary so that they can
Comprennent la différence entre cosmopolitain et anti-patriotique Understand the difference between cosmopolitan and anti-patriotic
Je marche la tête haute, bien en l’air comme un astronaute I walk with my head held high, really high like an astronaut
Je mate les hommes forts de cette terre se rejeter la faute And I watch powerful men of this world play the blame game
Comme une balle de tennis aux jeux olympiques As if it’s a tennis ball at the Olympic games
Avec les mains sales, ils se félicitent With their dirty hands, they congratulate each other
Et nous, on les acclame… shit! And we applaud them… shit!
[Hook] [Hook]
Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control
Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote
Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control
Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote
[Verse 2] [Verse 2] 
Le vieux-jeux reconnait le jeu des Cartesélectorales The old school recognises the game of electoral cards
Aux truffesaucune du paquet n’a autant de valeur que l’as   In truffles[1] no card has as much value as the Ace
Condamnés à l’échec, nous sommes les pions de nos rois Doomed to failure, we are pawns of our kings
Hélas ce qui compte, c’est pas qui vote mais qui compte les votes Unfortunately what counts is not who votes but who counts the votes
Pour ne pas dire “qui vole les votes” car “on les offres” It’s not that I’m saying that “they steal the votes”; we “offer them our votes”
Nos politiques, on les adule alors ils nous mènent au gouffre We worship our leaders so they drive us to the pit
Comment être aussi dupe quand l’histoire se répète en boucle How can we be so fooled when history repeats itself in a loop
La démocratie c’est “cause toujours” la dictature c’est “ferme ta gueule” Democracy means “you are free to talk” and dictatorship means “shut the fuck up”
Donc c’est par la démocratie que jurent nos dictateurs… Fuck le people So it’s in the name of democracy that our dictators swear… Fuck the people
On a été stupide de croire qu’un black à la Maison Blanche We were stupid to believe that a black man in the White House
Etait assez pour changer le décor de ce sombre continent Was enough to change the décor of this ‘Dark Continent’
On nous convint d’être des agneaux, on les crains comme des lions They convinced us that we are lambs, so we fear them as if they are lions
On leur donne nos votes, ils nous prennent nos opinions We give them our votes, they take our opinions
Saches que “dans parlement, il y a parle et ment” ~ Léon Campion But remember that “in parliament, there is talk and lies” ~ Léon Campion
[Hook] [Hook]
Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control
Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote
Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control
Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote
[Verse 3] [Verse 3] 
Que la voix des hommes sans voix empêchent les puissants de dormir May the voices of the voiceless stop the mighty ones from sleeping
Et si jamais ils dorment, que nos cauchemars les fassent gémir And if they ever fall asleep, may our nightmares haunt them
Nous sommes fatigués de mourir, laissez nos enfants vivre We are tired of dying, let our children live
Le mensonge comme l’huile flotte au dessus de la vérité Lies are like oil on the surface of the truth
Ils nous poussent vers la mort au nom de la liberté They push us towards death in the name of freedom
On s’entretue sans cause et on s’habitue à R.I.P And so we kill each other for no reason; we get used to R.I.P
Qui veut la guerre prépare la guerre, alors tous aux armes If you want war prepare for war, let’s get armed
Il y a assez de nucléaire pour réchauffer la Guerre Froide There are enough nuclear weapons to warm up the Cold War
Et fondre la terre entière au nom du pouvoir And melt the entire world in the name of power
Liberté ou main de fer, on brandit tous le poing en l’air Freedom or iron hand, we all raise our fists in the air
Ce qui est clair, c’est qu’on a rien appris d’hier What is clear is we learned nothing from yesterday
Nous ne sommes que des feuilles sur cet arbre qui est la vie We are nothing but leaves on this big tree which is life
On tombe, d’autres poussent puis donnent des fruits We fall, others grow and then give fruits
Alors à quoi bon couper l’arbre, pourquoi infecter les racines? Why try to cut down the tree, why infect the roots?
Pourquoi infecter les racines? Why infect the roots?

[1] Truffles is a Francophone card game played in Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo.

Entre 2 album review: Carpe Diem

Track 5: Carpe Diem (“Seize the Moment”)

Carpe Diem is a song that we can all relate to in one way or another. Many of us will be familiar with the Latin aphorism, which translates as “Seize the Day” or “Seize the Moment”, as it is intended here. And, indeed, many of us share 1Key’s inner battle between existing in the here-and-now and worrying about the future. In an age of instant communications, global terror threats, and economic uncertainty, fear and anxiety are arguably on the rise. Some people think about their future, with its endless possibilities and increasingly high expectations, and become overwhelmed. Many others are forced to live from day to day; crippled by political, economic and/or social insecurities, they are unable to make plans for the futures they desire.

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Carpe Diem is tattoed on 1Key’s arm. [Courtesy of 1Key]
In Rwanda’s capital city, there is certainly an atmosphere of hope and renewal. While it’s impossible to forget the absolute horror of the past, the Kigalians with whom I have lived, worked and socialised share an optimism for the future. After all, they have borne witness to their country’s remarkable recovery, since the end of the 1994 Genocide. At the same time, the majority of Kigalians continue to struggle under financial hardships, facing un-(or under) employment, unaffordable housing and rising food costs. For the young men in my research, the rare occasion of getting paid would present an opportunity to party, and to “shake of that stress”, rather than to plan ahead and save. This attitude towards living in the moment is prevalent in popular Rwandan song lyrics, such as the hit song Vuza Ingoma (“Play the Drums”) by TBB, featuring Jay Polly, with lines like: Nta kwita kuri time (“Don’t worry about time”) and: “If you getting money spend it like you get paid.”

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Carpe Diem is tattoed on 1Key’s arm. [Courtesy of 1Key]
In Carpe Diem, 1Key tells us that he lives for moments which make his spirit vibrate. The chorus embodies a celebratory, care-free quality, with rhythmic Congolese rumba beats. 1Key switches from hip-hop poetry to tuneful singing, repeating his message of Carpe Diem again and again. Whenever I listen to the chorus, I can’t resist singing along, my head flung back and arms spread out wide! The rumba style is most pronounced in the outro, which 1Key performs in Lingala, one of the major languages of the DRC. The Congolese connection is no coincidence. 1Key was born in Goma, eastern DRC, where life is particularly harsh and insecure. He told me: “In Congo, everybody has to live day-to-day”, and yet Congolese music (which has influenced the entire continent and beyond) is undeniably uplifting and contagious. The high-pitched, tinny beats in the verses also connect us to 1Key’s personal memories from his childhood in Goma. The sounding of this particular rhythmic sequence was how kerosene dealers would announce their presence, especially when it was dark, with power outages being common.

While the chorus is light and relatable, the longer verse lines are delivered with urgency and passion. I particularly enjoy 1Key’s use of imagery. He tells us that he’s decided to: “Jump on every opportunity that life presents and devour it.” (Translated from French to English) He asks the evocative question: “Why do we cling so much to the imaginary and let the present slide through our fingers?” (Translated from French to English) Forever challenging us to participate in his art, and to seek out deeper meaning, 1Key makes reference to mathematics and to the riddle of the chicken and the egg. The wordsmith cleverly ties together his ideas through word play, relating “mathematical problems” and unsolvable riddles to “life problems”, which 1Key has decided not to focus on. He’d prefer to Carpe Diem!

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Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda. 2014. Carpe Diem! (Kelly) [Courtesy of the author]
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

 

_______

Song lyrics and translations

Carpe Diem (“Seize the Moment” [Track 5 on Entre 2 album, 2015]) 

Prod. Junior Kafi (Kigali); French, Lingala.

[Verse 1] [Verse 1]
Prisonnier lié au fil du temps Prisoner bound by the thread of time
Produit d’hier vendu au present Yesterday’s product sold to the present
Livré à la merci de l’instant suivant Left at the mercy of the next moment
Entre le désir de rester vivant et la crainte ultime de disparaître dans le néant Between the desire to remain alive and the fear of disappearing into the void
Je ne suis qu’un étranger ici I’m just a stranger here
Un passager en transit perdu entre l’arrivée et l’exit A passenger in transit lost between arrival and exit
Inconnu dans ma quête, mon nom aurait dû être Ix Unknown in my quest, my name should have been X
Gausse/Gosse dans ma tête, tout me parait comme un matrix Gauss/Child in my mind, everything seems to be like a matrix
Une équation linéaire à plusieurs degrés A linear equation but with lots of levels
Les questions deviennent plus compliquées au fur du temps, malgré leur simplicité Questions become more complex with time despite their simplicity
Comme l’énigme de l’oeuf et de la poule on peut pas tout résoudre Just like the riddle of the chicken and the egg, we cannot solve everything
Ca va paraitre paresseux, con même It might sound lazy, or even stupid
Mais depuis que je traite plus la vie comme un problème But ever since I stopped looking at life like a problem
Elle est devenue plus vivable, plus facile It has become more livable
Je ne me demande plus pourquoi j’existe ni pourquoi j’écris depuis que j’ai compris I no longer ask why I exist or why I write since I understand
Que je ne vis que pour ces moments qui animent mon esprit That I live for these moments which make my spirit vibrate
Au fond, romancer l’instant, c’est ça faire de la poésie Because deep inside romancing time, that is poetry
[Hook] [Hook]
Entre le passé et l’avenir… Carpe Diem Between the past and the future… Carpe Diem
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                        
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                           
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                    
[Verse 2] [Verse 2]
Parce que le passé n’est qu’un collage d’images stockées dans nos mémoires Because the past is just a collage of images stored in our memories
Un film qui varie avec l’âge car chaque nouveau détail change la version de l’histoire A film which varies with time because every new detail changes the story
Parce que l’avenir n’est qu’un mirage fait de nos peurs et nos espoirs Because the future is just a mirage made of our hopes and fears
Pourquoi s’accrocher à l’imaginaire et laisser le présent nous glisser entre les doigts? Why do we cling so much to the imaginary and let the present slide through our fingers?
Le temps passé ne revient jamais et demain ne nous appartient pas Yesterday is gone and tomorrow does not belong to us
Entre les regrets d’hier et la crainte de demain moi j’ai décidé de saisir le présent à deux mains Between the regrets of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow I decided to seize the present in both my hands
Sauter sur chaque occaz que la vie présente et la croquer à pleines dents Jump on every opportunity that life presents and devour it
Instinct animal, l’intuition guide mes pas Animal instinct, I am guided by my intuition
J’ai foi en elle c’est pourquoi je crois en moi I have faith in it, that’s why I believe in me
Mon destin est un freestyle, ma vie un spectacle My fate is a freestyle, my life a theatre
Biopic d’un artiste qui ne cesse de se battre et se débattre Biopic from an artist who doesn’t cease to fight
Une pièce dramatique dans laquelle je joue le rôle principal A dramatic play in which I am the protagonist

 

Chaque jour commence avec une nouvelle page Every day begins with a new page
Avant de la tourner, je check le tatoo sur mon bras Before I turn it, I look at the tattoo on my arm
Il lit carpe diem And it reads carpe diem
[Hook] [Hook]
Entre le passé et l’avenir… Carpe Diem Between the past and the future… Carpe Diem
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                          
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                           
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                           
[Outro] [Outro]
Eza systeme ya invasion It’s an invasion
Toye kosimba mokolo And we came to seize the day
Eza ya yo papa It’s yours papa[1]
Simba, ma, kamata! Kamata! Seize it, grab it, get it! Get it!
Lobi ezalaka te Tomorrow doesn’t exist
Lelo ya yo lobi soki eye, eza ya yo! Today is yours, if tomorrow comes make it yours too!
Ma, kamata, ma, kamata! Grab it, get it, grab it, get it!
Simba mokolo Seize the day
Simba mokolo Seize the day
Simba mokolo Seize the day
Simba mokolo Seize the day
Hahahahaha… Hahahahaha…

[1] In Kinshasa, DRC Papa is slang for “man”, “bro”, “dude”, etc.

 

Entre 2 album review: A l’Africaine (Iwacu)

Track 3: L’Africaine (Iwacu) [“In the African Style (Iwacu)”]

A l’Africaine (Iwacu) (“In the African Style [Iwacu]”) is a love song between 1Key and Africa, his Iwacu, which means “home” or “homeland” in Kinyarwanda. In his song, 1Key invites us to a generalised Africa. His detailed descriptions evoke the human senses when he speaks of rain flowing over skin, kept warm by the sun. He tells us: “Close your eyes so I can remove your mascara with my kisses”, and: “Come, put your head on my chest/Listen to the echo of the source of my forces.” (Translated from French to English) The hook, too, has a particularly seductive quality:

“Come taste this love

Though it might seem tough

It’s sweet like sugar cane

Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine [‘I wanna love you the African way’]

Iwacu.” (Translated from French to English)

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Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. Cecile Kayirebwa performing at her album launch. [Courtesy of the author]
For 1Key, a self-proclaimed citizen of the world, home is not a single, fixed place, but a feeling. Wishing to evoke a feeling of connectedness to Rwanda, he samples Cecile Kayirebwa’s renowned and well-loved song Iwacu, which was released as a track on her Amahoro (“Peace”) album in 1998, four years after the 1994 Genocide. When the Rwandan traditional singer recorded Iwacu she was living in Belgium. 1Key told me: “She was announcing her homecoming. She was describing the streets of Kigali, you know? It was beautiful”

While Cecile Kayirebwa was longing to physically return home to Rwanda, 1Key was already there, living a life between Kigali, Rwanda and Kampala, Uganda, and amongst the beautiful nature he so lovingly describes. For 1Key, his nostalgia is for a generalised “African Style”, before it was corrupted and diluted by dominant, Western-born ideals. For a moment, at least, 1Key invites us to take off our watches and our make-up, and to stop viewing life through technology. He says:

“Forget your apps, your gadgets, disconnect yourself from the society-screen

Reality is in the experience of the moment, not on the screen

Free yourself from modern slavery,  come discover that innocent smile that you lost

Before we move to the other side, or before the machine colonises us” (Translated from French to English)

Kibuye, Rwanda
Lake Kivu, Kibuye-Rwanda. [Courtesy of the author]
As well as forms of technology, 1Key asks his listeners to forget Western romance plots like Roméo and Juliet and Cyrano de Bergérac, which, he told me, he and his peers were exposed to during their childhoods, and which “set the format for love.” (1Key) Instead, 1Key makes reference to African stories, folk tales and superstitions, thus celebrating and promoting this generalised “African Style” he refers to. 1Key raps about Bwiza, a princess in “Rwanda’s most popular romantic tale.” (1Key) He says: “I had ticks in my eyes before I met you”, which, according to Rwandan superstition, happens to a person when they’re about to see something beautiful and surprising. Finally, 1Key raps:

“Do not be afraid of the dark, these BOOM that you hear

It is the ndombolo, makossa, kwasa kwasa coupe de Kale

These loud voices are byivugo, mpangara nguhangare, under a starlit sky.” (Translated from French to English)

Here, 1Key is making reference to drum-heavy dance styles from the DRC (ndombolo, and then the kwasa kwasa style invented by Congolese soukous music legend Pepe Kalle), and from Côte d’Ivoire (makossa), as well as Rwandese oral traditions. Like most Kigalians today, 1Key is extremely proud to be Rwandan, and also African more generally. The artist wanted to counter the “racist cartoons” and pernicious representations of Africa as “the dark continent”, which have dominated (and to a large extent continue to dominate) Western media outlets. 1Key’s concerns in relation to representations of Africa are reflective of current discourse among many African communities.

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Lake Kivu, Gisyeni/Rubavu-Rwanda. [Courtesy of the author]
Continuing the album’s motif of Entre Deux (or “Between Two”), 1Key further indulges in African folk tales. In the first verse he describes the in-between weather of “sunny rains” and tells us: “You will be amazed by the/Dance of these innocent little children celebrating the birth of the new leopard”. (Translated from French to English). In the Rwandan version of this tale, when it rains and it is sunny at the same time a hyena has just got married, while in the Ugandan version this signifies the birth of a leopard. 1Key recorded his vocals in Kampala and he opted for the Ugandan version of the tale, which rhymes beautifully. 1Key told me that he enjoyed inserting an element of surprise for his audience, which is predominantly made up of Francophone Rwandans.

A l’Africaine (Iwacu) is rich with multiple meanings and references to 1Key’s lived experiences, which he manages to sew together in creative and thoughtful ways. 1Key is a playful poet and enjoys concealing meaning between the lines of his text, for the “deserving ones” to uncover. (Refer to the final line of Apprenti_Sage) The opening line of A l’Africaine (Iwacu) makes reference to a song called Monaco (28 degrés à l’ombre) by Jean François Maurice. 1Key remembers listening to this explicitly erotic French song on Radio Rwanda. He tells us: “In my world [meaning Rwanda] we remain bashful, yet it is always beautiful”. (Translated from French to English). Once again, 1Key is appealing for pride in “the African style”, this time in relation to conversations about sex. Rwandans are more reticent about public discussions of sex than Westerners stereotypically are.

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Musanze, Rwanda. 2015. Rwandan traditional dance: a contemporary cultural symbol of “being Rwandan.” [Courtesy of Amy Pritchard]
In A L’Africaine (Iwacu), 1Key celebrates a rather romantic view of the “African Style” as being about: folktales and drums, nature and innocence, and forgoing technology. His song speaks to some of the big, important themes in Rwandan nation-building efforts and patriotism: the promotion of Rwandan traditional dance, the celebration of Rwanda’s beautiful landscapes (and gorillas), and Agaciro: a powerful phrase that Rwandans use to define their self-worth and dignity. Simultaneously, 1Key contributes to current efforts in countering negative portrayals of Africa, such as the image of starving children with flies in their eyes. Interestingly, though, 1Key’s generalising of the “African Style” (rather than acknowledging the continent’s diversity), and the associating of Africa with innocent rural scenes and drums, reinforces particular stereotypes about the African continent; stereotypes which members of various African and pan-African communities have opposed.

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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Song lyrics and translations

A L’Africaine (Iwacu) (“In the African Style” (Iwacu) [Track 3 on Entre 2 album]) 

Prod. Junior Kafi (Kigali). Vocals: Urban Aksent (Kampala); French, English, Kinyarwanda.

[Verse 1] [Verse 1]
28 degrés à l’ombre, le temps serait lubrique à Monaco 28 degrees in the shade, the time would be lustful in Monaco
Dans mon monde, on reste pudique pourtant il fait toujours beau In my world we remain bashful, yet it is always beautiful
Mes chansons seraient toutes éro-tiques si je devrais parler amour et météo All of my songs would be erotic if I should talk about love and weather
Car quand c’est pas la pluie qui tombe et parcourt ta peau Because when the rain is not flowing all over your skin
Les rayons du soleil t’entourent pour te garder au chaud The rays of the sun keep you warm
Si tu ne succombes pas pour les pluies ensoleillées If you don’t succumb to the sunny rains
Et tous ces phénomènes qui laissent sans mot And all these phenomena which leave you speechless
Tu n’arrêteras pas d’être émerveillée You will be amazed by the
Par la danse de ces innocents mômes qui célèbrent la naissance du nouveau bébé leopard Dance of these innocent little children celebrating the birth of the new leopard
Oui on est un peu superstitieux, y a toujours plus à que la vue donne Yes we are a bit superstitious; there is always more than the eye can see
D’ailleurs j’avais des tics aux yeux avant notre rencontre Moreover I had ticks in my eyes before I met you
Comme si l’univers me préparait sans que je m’en rende compte As if the universe was preparing me without me realising
Allez donne moi ta main, enlève ta montre Come on, give me your hand and take off your watch
T’en aura pas besoin, monte avec moi sur ma colline You will not need it, climb with me on top of my hill
Que je te montre où se cache le dernier bout de paradis So I can show you the last piece of paradise
[Hook] [Hook]
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu… Iwacu…
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu… Iwacu… 
[Verse 2] [Verse 2]
Oublies tes apps, tes gadgets, étrique-toi de la société-écran Forget your apps, your gadgets, disconnect yourself from the society-screen
La réalité est dans l’expérience de l’instant, pas sur l’écran Reality is in the experience of the moment, not on the screen
Libère toi de l’esclavage moderne, viens retrouver le sourire  Free yourself from modern slavery, come discover that innocent smile that you lost
Avant qu’on passe à l’autre rive ou que la machine nous colonise Before we move to the other side, or before the machine colonises us
Viens vivre le rêve de naturaliste loin des caricatures racists Come  live the dream of naturists, far away from racist cartoons
Craint pas ces bombes, ce sont les future reums de nos enfants Fear not these bomb shells, they are the future mothers of our children
N’aie pas peur de la tombée de la nuit, ces BOOM que t’entend Do not be afraid of the dark, these BOOM that you hear
C’est du ndombolo, makosa, kwasa kwasa coupé de Kalé It is the ndombolo, makossa, kwasa kwasa coupé de Kalé
Ces cris c’est des byivugo, des mpangara nguhangare, sous un ciel étoilé These loud voices are ibyivugo, mpangara nguhangare, under a starlit sky
Si on célèbre autant c’est parce que la nature nous a bénit If we celebrate this much, it’s because we are blessed by nature
Reveilles-toi, regarde le soleil se lever derrière les collines Wake up, look at the sun rise behind the hills
Ces merveilles se répètent tous les jours mais restent magiques These marvels repeat every day, but remain magical
[Hook] [Hook]
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu… Iwacu… 
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu… Iwacu… 
[Verse 3] [Verse 3]
Oublie Harlequin, Roméo et Juliette, Cyrano de Bergérac Forget Harlequin, Roméo and Juliet, Cyrano de Bergérac
Laisse béton tes bouquins, mon amour est incomparable Forget about your books, my love is incomparable
Ferme les pages de ton roman-photo, regarde moi Close the pages of photo novel, look at me
Nous Deux c’est réel, non tu ne rêves pas You and I, it’s real, no you are not dreaming
Ferme les yeux que j’ôte ton mascara de mes bises Close your eyes so I can remove your mascara with my kisses
Allez viens ma Bwiza que je te dise Come my Bwiza so I can tell you
A quel point tu me rappelle la légende de Mashira How much you remind me of the legend of Mashira?
Eternelle Beauté sans maquillage convoitée par les rois Eternal beauty without makeup desired by the kings
Allez viens, pose ta tête sur mon torse Come, put your head on my chest
Ecoute l’écho de la source de mes forces Listen to the echo of the source of my forces
Te dire à chaque BOOM, ndagukunda mieux que les mots Telling you on each BOOM, I love you more than words
Je te dirai rarement “I love you,” I will rarely tell you “I love you”
C’est pas une routine Iwacu This is not a routine at home
Mais je poserai ces mots sur ma langue pour que tu savoure le vrai gout de l’amour But I will put these words on my tongue so that you can savour the true taste of love
[Hook] [Hook]
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu Iwacu 
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu Iwacu 

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.

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Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. 1Key performing Apprenti_Sage on the #Expericment. [Courtesy of Innovation Village]
Historically, males would learn kwivuga at initiation camps called Itorero, a Kinyarwanda word meaning “the place where you select”. At Itorero, pubescent boys were taught how to protect their country, to shoot arrows, to perform kwivuga, and traditional dancing. After initiation, boys would return home transformed, “as men with responsibilities” (1Key) also referred to as Intore (the chosen ones). In the Icyivugo performance, the performer may drop down to one knee, or throw his stick to the floor (as if to “drop the mic”), while boasting to the crowd about who he is and what he has achieved. Indeed, Icyivugo literally means “a self-introductory poem.” 1key’s Icyivugo, the final section of Apprenti_Sage, concludes with confidence. The wordsmith cements his artistic identity with his final Kinyarwanda line, which he delivers with impressive speed, and which translates as:

“I am the only key that opens the doors of mystery so that the deserving ones can enter my world.” 

Introducing 1Key, the wise apprentice!

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Musanze, Rwanda. 2015. Intore dancers performing at Kwita Izina (Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony). [Courtesy of the author]
In Apprenti_Sage, we are transported into the world of traditional Rwandese melodies. The introduction is dedicated to the bare boned and unproduced sound of the Inanga, the Rwandese instrument of storytelling. After 20 seconds, 1Key penetrates the piece with his carefully constructed poetry, while the beautifully springy sound of the Inanga persists until the end. The delicate pulse of 1key’s French lyrics are spoken with rhythm and purpose, before transforming boldly into Kinyarwanda for his compelling Icyivugo: “Yeeeee…!” (Final section)

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Nyundo Art and Music School, Rwanda, 2015. Inanga. [Courtesy of the author]
Throughout his experimental and playful album, 1key creatively explores his most important, ever-present theme: Entre Deux, or “Between Two”, which his album is named after. In Apprenti_Sage, 1Key expresses tensions between two languages: Kinyarwanda, the native language of almost all Rwandans and the carrier of Rwandan identity and culture, and French, the language “brought [to Rwanda] on boats” and enforced on the population by Belgian colonisers. Is it possible to perform Rwandan culture and identity in French? In the third stanza, 1Key apologises to his ancestors for delivering his words in French. He expresses his regret and disgust at being imprisoned within an unequal system of globalisation, where the mastering of European languages is required to earn a living, and where “Rwandan culture” is treated as subordinate.

1Key bridges the gap between today and yesterday; between himself as a modern day resident of Kigali and his ancestors as he imagines them. As a multi-lingual poet and recording artist, 1key interweaves Rwandese oral traditions with modern digital technologies, creating a unique contemporary sound which is rooted in tradition. Inspired by the echo of his ancestors’ voices, 1Key aspires to write his life, to describe his view, and to fearlessly leave a message. He tells us: Je suis le message (“I am the message”). We are captivated, intrigued and excited to hear more…

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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Song lyrics and translations

Apprenti_Sage (“Wise Apprentice/Learning” [Track 1 on  Entre 2 album])  

Prod. Barick (Kigali). Vocals: Yego Studio (Kampala); French, Kinyarwanda.

[Verse 1] [Verse 1]
Les pouces sur mon phone comme sur une manette I’ve got thumbs on my phone as a controller  
Je joue avec des lettres, je griffonne des textes Playing with letters, I’m scribbling lyrics
En fait, depuis que je les pose sur des pages net In fact, ever since I put them on Internet pages
Et que j’expose mon âme entre les lignes de mes rimes And exposed my soul between the lines of my rhymes
On m’appelle poète; mais est-ce que je mérite ce titre? They call me a poet; but do I deserve this title?
Pour être honnête, je préfère quand on m’appelle artiste To be honest, I prefer to call myself an artist
Au fond je ne suis qu’un esprit qui cherche sa forme I am just a spirit seeking its form
Je suis brut, sans filtre, mes pensées résonnent I’m raw, unfiltered, my thoughts resonate
Dans mes écrits, comme sur du papier carbone In my writings, like carbon paper
Avant la plume, je les calquais à la mine de graphite Before the pen, I used to express my thoughts with a pencil
Qui aurait predit qu’un jour mes ébauches auraient un bon accueil au public? Who knew that one day my drafts would be well received by the public?
C’est incroyable mais il y a deux décennies It’s unbelievable that two decades ago,
On aurait juré que j’étais dyslexique à force de juger mon lexique sur base des dicos amenés en bateaux One could have sworn that I was dyslexic, judging by my lexicon based on dictionaries brought on boats
L’apprentissage n’a pas été du gateau Learning was not a piece of cake
Apprenti-sage je suis devenu pour éviter les coups de batons Wise apprentice I had to become to avoid the blow of the cane
Que mes aïeux m’excusent pour ma forme sur ce fond May my ancestors forgive my voice over this background music
Si je m’exprime mieux dans la langue du colon If I express myself better in the colonisers’ language
C’est parce que c’est devenu une culture de survie It is because it has become a way of survival
Elle évolue au dépens de la nôtre et on suit, asservis It evolves at the expense of ours and we follow, enslaved
Aujourd’hui on se moque des nôtres Today we make fun of our people
Quand ils commettent des fautes dans ces langues étrangères when we make mistakes in these foreign languages
Et ça me révolte! And that disgusts me!
Laissez-moi être mélancolique sur ce sample de cithare Let me be sad on this sample of cithare
Laissez-moi me noyer dans ce pot de slam,  Let me drown in this pot of slam poetry
Cet art oratoire de mes ancêtres, c’est tout ce qui me reste This oral art of my ancestors, that’s all I have left
Leurs doigts grattent des cordes, les miens gravent des textes Their fingers strum the strings, mine type lyrics
Dans leurs notes et les miennes, tu peux lire l’envie de transmettre In their notes and mine, you can read the urge to pass on
C’est l’écho de leurs voix que j’entend quand les vallées respirent It is the echo of their voices that I hear when valleys breathe
Et peut-être pourquoi j’adore écrire le soir, leur mélodie m’inspire And perhaps why I love writing at night, their melody inspires me
A écrire ma vie, à décrire ma vue, à conter mon parcours sans peur to write my life, describe my view, and tell story fearlessly
Je sais qu’on ne vit pas pour toujours et tout comme eux I know we do not live forever and just like them
Je veux laisser un message… I want to leave a message…
Je suis le message I am the message
Qui vivra, entendra cette voix venue de nulle part Whoever lives will hear this voice coming out of nowhere
Portée par le vent d’un écho ancestral Carried by an ancestral echo
[Icyivugo] [Icyivugo]
Yeeeeee ndi ingangare ku rugamba Yes! Here I am, I am the strongest in battle
Mwene Rugambwa simpangarwa ndahangara Son of Rugambwa, none can challenge me, I challenge them first
Dore nje mu rukerera nk’igiteroshuma I attack at dawn as if it’s an ambush
Sinikanga, sinikinga I am not intimidated, I do not hide
Ikaramu narazwe na data ni yo ngabo y’amahina amakuza atagwabizwa The pen I inherited from my father is my unbreakable shield, my spear
Iyo mfoye simpusha ababisha bashahurwa n’ubwoba ntaranabegera I’m a sharp shooter, I don’t miss. My enemies tremble with fear before I even get to them
Abaswa banyumva nk’amahamba The small-minded don’t understand the intricacies of my poetry
Ndasiga nkisiga bagasigara basiganuza When I write I paint stories and leave them speculating about
Uko mbambura imizingo imirongo igahinduka amashusho How I can write this much and this good, how my lines become vivid pictures
Umushyitsi ukabataha mu nda bagahitamo kunyita umunyabufindo Afraid of my powers, they choose to call me a “magician”
Ndi urufunguzo rumwe rukumbi rurangaza amarembo y’amayobera maze agatahurwa n’inyamibwa mu ndatwa.  I am the only key that opens the doors of mystery so that the deserving ones can enter my world.