Rwanda: Why 2023 Could Be Rwanda’s Biggest Year Musically

We are only halfway into 2023, but more than ever, Rwandan music is dominating global charts and producing projects that are sitting right next to the likes of Asake, Wiz Khalifa and Gunna, among other mega stars on different streaming platforms.

For the last many years, the talk in Rwanda’s entertainment industry was never dominated by music, but today, Rwandan music is at the top of almost everything, witnessing a remarkable metamorphosis in competitiveness in recent years and establishing itself as a vibrant and dynamic industry.

With a rich blend of traditional African sounds and contemporary music genres, Rwandan music has gained global recognition for its unique and authentic touch. The industry has also been boosted by the emergence of big events and shows that provide a platform for young talents to showcase their projects and attract potential consumers.

Furthermore, the increasing availability of online platforms and social media has enabled Rwandan musicians to reach a wider audience, making their mark on the global music map.

But, the year 2023, has been a lot different in the Rwandan music industry compared to previous years, and can be attributed as the best so far since Rwandans jumped on the art of making music.

Wondering what makes 2023 special for Rwanda’s music scene? Here’s how.

Going global

For the first time in history, an album produced by a young Rwandan artiste was ranked among top five trending albums of the week on Audiomack, one of the leading streaming platforms worldwide.

The 17-track album trended on the streaming platform from June 13 -20, alongside other big projects like Asake’s second album ‘Work Of Art’, a ‘Gift & a Curse’ by American rapper Gunna, “See Ya” by Wiz Khalifa and “Deus” by Sean Tizzle among others.

This is not the only point that shows how Rwandan music is going global, but many other factors including the increasing consumption of Rwandan music in the western world.

Dozens of Rwandan artistes including upcoming acts are headlining sold-out concerts in Europe, and the latest among them is gospel musician Israel Mbonyi who had a sold out one-man concert in Brussels, Belgium, on June 11, a few days after Christopher delivered an energetic performance in Lyon, France.

The likes of Bushali, Kenny Sol, Bwiza, Kivumbi King, Jules Sentore, among many others, have also had one or two shows on the continent this year.

According to Justin Karekezi, an event promoter based in Europe, a lot of great artistes from Nigeria have been performing in Belgium, but Israel Mbonyi’s recent concert was the first event to sell out tickets before the actual day of the event.

“This shows how much Rwandan music is loved here. It’s growing like never before,” Karekezi said.

A year of heavy albums

There has been so much good music in the first half of this year so far, and most of it is produced by the young generation in Rwanda’s music industry.

It is for the first time that over five big albums were released in the first half of a year, all receiving huge admiration from listeners and being ranked among the best on the globe.

We are talking about Ruti’s ‘Musomandera’ which gave music lovers a warm welcome into 2023, Nel Ngabo’s maiden album ‘Life, Love & Light’ that became one of the biggest albums to come out of Kina Music Label, Yaraje of Juno Kizigenza which was ranked among the best albums of his generation in Rwanda, Alyn Sano’s Urumuri and many others.

More big stars in Rwanda’s music scene have already announced plans of releasing mega projects and among them is Ish Kevin who is set to drop his maiden album BST that will feature the likes of Joeboy, Khaligraph Jones and many other influential musicians on the continent.

The return of Tuff Gang

The famous Tuff Gang crew, which rose to stardom in the late 2000s, has announced its reunion and most music lovers are eagerly waiting for its joint mixtape produced by Davydenko that will premiere this year.

The New Times has learnt that all production works of the project are done and that it will be on all streaming platforms soon. It’s a project that has been in the studio for over two years, spurred by the death of Jay Polly, one of the members of the gang who recently died, and will feature upcoming acts such as Ish Kevin and many others.

Tuff Gang Crew with the help of producer Lick Lick, pioneered street hip-hop and the gang lifestyle of Kigali back in 2008.

In 2015, Tuff Gang parted ways and every rapper embarked on a solo career, making some of the crew members successful like Jay Polly and Bull Dog.