Mike Kayihura is a self-taught R’n’B and soul artist from Rwanda.
The 22-year-old sings about the many temptations confronting young people.
‘I’m talking about how we drink, how we party’, he says, ‘The message is: we need to be aware of what we’re doing, of where we are, of what’s surrounding us.’ He encourages the youth to remain alert of what lies ahead for them but he also wants to encourage them to succeed musically.
In the future, he envisions having his own children-only choir: ‘Kids singing and a solid band: just what an artist requires: to be comfortable musically.’
Mike embarked on his musical journey at church when he was about 15 years old. A couple of years later, he started a group with a couple of friends called Dark Matter Entertainment before going solo and starting to experiment with different genres such as hip hop. But, despite being a successful artist, challenges remain.
If Rwanda had festivals which would bring traditional artists to jam with rappers or rock players, the local music scene would grow in an incredible way.
There’s a divide between Rwanda’s young and old artists. Mike would love to work with a few traditional artists. ‘We get inspiration from older artists’, he says, ‘But we don’t cooperate. We don’t want to get together. We claim to do, but we don’t do it enough. For an industry that is scattered, the fact that we are not getting together is a challenge.’
He believes that if Rwanda had festivals which would bring traditional artists to jam with rappers or rock players, the local music scene would grow in an incredible way. In addition, money also remains an issue, but the artist believes it all comes down to organisation.
‘With organisation, music is something you can make a living of, you know, even here. It is not the easiest of places to make money musically but it is something that is growing.’ And Mike does indeed make a living out of his career.
‘If I can get to this, then the scene can grow as well. Everything’s gonna grow somehow. I feel like we have a great future; we have a bright future.’
He also has a lot to say regarding the future: ‘I started music at a time when it was really hard to sustain yourself as an artist. Because in five, six, 10 years to come, we’ll have something solid. Those artists that are going to be up and coming then will look back and be like, yeah, he did his thing, you know!’
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Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeKayihura