It was just another day at the Mothaland Arts recording studio. Or so I thought.
I came over to meet the producer prodigy named Eloi El. My expectation was to just absorb any knowledge I could from the 19-year old producer.
“Let’s work on something!” I told him, to which he replied:
“Sure, but we have to be done soon because Mucyo is coming over with some other artist.”
“Oh yeah,” I said, remembering that Mucyo, an RnB singer with the voice of a goddess, had mentioned to me a few days prior that she would visit the studio with Malaika Uwamahoro. I got excited because anyone who knows Malaika will tell you that she is a juggernaut, a powerful force capable of transforming the energy in any space she chooses to show herself.
A few minutes later, Malaika showed up and she and Eloi expressed how much they have been looking forward to meeting and how their assembly was long overdue. I couldn’t agree more. I was in the presence of two phenomenal artists and I sensed that something great would come from it.
Malaika played her tunes to Eloi, most of which were mostly flawless voice recordings and freestyles.
The brilliant young producer doesn’t speak much but he instantly opened up his production software and yelled, “Say no more. I understand your style and I’m about to cook a hot beat for you.”
In about 20 minutes, Mucyo came over only to find a beautiful instrumental which many of you now know as the backing track of the song, “Stickin’ 2 You.”
In came the seasoned rap queen Angell Mutoni, who also instantly fell in love with the vibes. The cool and composed Chase came and graced us with his presence, and the humble and highly musical Mike Kayihura made his way over. The rest, my people, was history.
Pens were scribbling, people were typing and singers were harmonizing.
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about it all was how everyone exchanged ideas, a line or a verse here and there. Instead of everyone sitting in a corner as most hip-hop artists do, we were all in-sync as boy bands are. But this was way better than a boy band, maybe because the ladies were in charge.
Malaika set the tone – and speaking of tone, her slick raspy voice really gave me goosebumps. Mucyo followed with a contrasting smoother-than-silk voice that caressed all our ears before it was even mixed. Then it was my turn. I grabbed the headphones and laid a Kinyarwanda verse that I hoped would resonate with our fellow Rwandans. Angell followed with fire bars that added even more texture to the song. The baton was passed to Chase who mesmerized us with his melody. The bridge was left for the ladies who were now fired up. The cake had been baked but Mike Kayihura’s ad-libs were the cherry on top.
At some point in the process, we knew that this song would be well-received so we decided that we would shoot a video in the near future.
The following weekend, Malaika, who is also a theatre pro, had linked up with Dric, a highly talented videographer, to set up a beautiful set at WONDERLAND, a sports & recreation venue on the outskirts of Kigali. A Thousand Hills Distillery, Moshions, and Señorita Privé also sponsored the video by providing props and costumes. The video would have not been as exciting without their support. The love and support from our friends who agreed to be part of the video also made the whole experience memorable.
I am proud of my team and what we accomplished in those few days. More so, I am excited about what we will achieve in the months and years to come.
Some teams are formed unnaturally when super acts are juxtaposed into a hodgepodge. Ours, however, is an organic blend of colorful talents that I know will stick together through thick and thin.
Grateful is an understatement.
Watch the full video:
Kanaka is a music entrepreneur and artist advocate from Kigali, Rwanda. He holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Music Industry from the State University of New York at Oneonta, and he occasionally uses various forms of art to express his love for his people and origins.
[All images courtesy of Dric Ent.]