Up Close and Personal With Ruyonga
We caught up with Ruyonga, probably one of the illest emcess that are killing it today. You could tell from the look on his face that he has something up his sleeve, a few days to our meeting he had been at the Holy Hip Hope Mega Mix event at Calvary Chapel and he was so excited about the Uganda Gospel Hip Hop talent. So here we are seated having some table talk as he shares about next year, his music and life.
WeMix: You might have come across this question before, but are you a Gospel rapper or Christian rapper?
Ruyonga: Am a born again artist who raps. Some artists only spit Gospel. God didn’t create Christians, God created people and they have a lot going on in their lives. Am a Christian who wants to relate to people and where they are at.
WeMix: What do you have to say about K!MERA
Ruyonga: Amazing. You cannot fail to like him. He can sing, he can rap. Amazing.
WeMix: So, describe hip hop and its influence on society today
Ruyonga: It’s unique, effective & talks. Good hip hopers know how to convey messages relatively to society. I think right now it’s the most impacting genre to the youths.
WeMix: Your song, Ride, was widely loved by many but also caused a stir among some Christian folk, they were claiming that there was no message in it, there was no Jesus. What do you say?
Ruyonga: [Laughing] I missed the controversy. Amazing. There was message all over. [He sings a bit of the song] “…Ohhh I just listen to it for the beat…” – People want me to rap about what is irrelevant. I missed the controversy. I ask God for advice when I make music, how things are and how it should be. People listen these days for the beat. It’s a dangerous place to be at.
WeMix: Most of your friends don’t make music that per say contains content that is Christian, and you making “Ride”, whose primary message was that some music these days contains content you don’t agree with, doesn’t that make you lose friends?
Ruyonga: [Laughing] They are the same people who touch on topics that are sensitive to me. We don’t grade each other on message but on art. I have friends from other religions who rap. And some times you’re putting your message out there but your music is whack.
WeMix: So it’s interesting in the mainstream art is celebrated over the message, and in Church message is celebrated over art.
Ruyonga: We are in a season where art is celebrated over message. The message matters but don’t play down the art. There is a rapper friend of mine, he was at a show and before he started his performances he said “it’s not about the music but the ministry”. If it’s all about that, there wouldn’t be great artists out their today. And some of the great artists out their today started from the church. Someone like me I value the message above all but I respect the art, and so I have to find a balance between the two.
WeMix: It’s about over a year since “Victory Music” what’s next? What are you cooking?
Ruyonga: God is increasing us, from the “God Over Money” album to “Victory Music” I have some more music coming out next year.
WeMix: What other genres would you experiment?
Ruyonga: I have some afro pop coming. Reggae, I do collaborations. Kidandali, no way. Dancehall, we’ll see. Kadongo Kamu, we’ll see, [smiling] that might be a hard one.
WeMix: Who is Ruyonga next year?
Ruyonga: New things. New album, am thinking God is going bigger and I get to be part of the process. Am believing to become a better man, a better artist is good but a better man is better.
WeMix: How much do you value your faith? And who has inspired you on this journey?
Ruyonga: It’s everything. The Worship Harvest crew, Ronnie Habasa and Enoch from Watoto Church, Rev Jay a.k.a Pastor John from All Saints.
WeMix: Your view on discipleship?
Ruyonga: Am learning to be one and also discipling others.
WeMix: When Ruyonga is not running around ripping mics and tearing down stages what else does he do?
Ruyonga: Hanging with family, watching movies. I ran around so much and that family thing is so important.
WeMix: Two great things recently happened to you, a baby girl and getting married. What does that make you?
Ruyonga: Maturity, new dimension to life. It’s a beautiful thing, you can’t even explain it to someone.
WeMix: What book are you reading?
Ruyonga: The bible. Some books in the music industry but mostly the bible.
WeMix: What do you have to say to artists that depend on music to earn their living?
Ruyonga: Seek first the Kingdom of God and also the same bible says that if you don’t work you don’t eat, if you’re not doing music as a business you better have a working business. If you are doing music as a business you need to get serious. At the end of the day artists need to get serious with music as a business.
WeMix: After Ruyonga has long gone, what do you want to be remembered for?
Ruyonga: I want to be remembered for preaching the Gospel. I want the world to know Christ. [With a serious face] I don’t want to be remembered if it’s not Christ.
WeMix: Who do you want to collaborate with locally and on the international scene?
Ruyonga: I don’t know. I don’t think like that, everyone I have wanted to work with, I have worked with them. If there is no one it’s because I haven’t wanted to work anyone at the moment.
WeMix: The hip hop genre has been flooded with failed marriages, failed fatherhood, as a married man and father what do you think?
Ruyonga: My heart beats for the Fathers. It beats for the children too but it beats for the Fathers. No one encourages it. Women like bad boys, and the mainstream puts out a lot of nonsense in that regard.
WeMix: How are you finding the Ugandan Gospel Hip Hop community?
Ruyonga: Exciting!! It blew me away on Saturday. [Holy Hip Hope Alive at Mega Mix, Calvary Chapel Kampala]
WeMix: So is Ruyonga looking towards like a “116 Clique” version in Uganda?
Ruyonga: We are looking into the possibility of that for next year.
WeMix: Any international tours or performances?
Ruyonga: 2015, we’re working on that.
WeMix: What’s your favorite song today?
Ruyonga: “Where Can I Go”, it’s not about me it’s about God, Nelson [C19 Studios] had me do this song.
WeMix: Breakout Uganda Gospel Hip Hop artist in Uganda for 2014?
Ruyonga: No one has broken out as yet, but next year, am going to push these guys out there. I refuse for them to stay down!!!
WeMix: Some people don’t know your story, share a little bit about your life, how it was then, how you met the Lord and how your life has been transformed to who you are today?
Ruyonga: I wanted to be like everyone around me, I was involved with the ladies and I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to be. I seemed different from others. Others wanted to be doctors, lawyers and I wanted to do art. No one is a millionaire poet but that’s what I wanted. I tried rap, I tried and failed. There was nothing, there was no conviction. At the end of the day I would just stop doing those things.
I went to the states [USA], I was rapping by then, we weren’t getting money but we were getting some attention. I started to talk to girls, they were excited because I could talk like them, I had practiced the accent for a while. Girls were around, liquor pouring, smoking weed, the artists share women and booze. The rappers just want sex, that’s what they rap about. The ladies wanted to feel valued, so they had sex. Artists had day and night jobs, partying started at 2 am in the morning. There was cheap beer, cheap affection…that ground was shaky, and I wasn’t talking with my family back home.
That’s how life was for a while. I was exposed to alcohol and sex. There was a lot of loose living and I was scared of diseases and other sicknesses. At the end of it all, my cousin calls me over to Vegas. I had just broken up with a girl. I was broken, I thought I was going to die.
God was waiting for me in Vegas, of all places God was waiting for me in Vegas, it’s like as though God was just waiting for me. On arriving in Vegas, I gave my life to the Lord, I just said a small prayer after that moment I felt such peace, such joy, such grace that I had never felt before. When I got off the bus to Vegas, I was struggling with drinking and smoking, but I stopped smoking, drinking. I am now healthy, I live good, work out and I look good.
WeMix: Tell us more about the album coming out next year?
Ruyonga: There is some personal and spiritual stuff in there. Experiment in marketing. I want to see how big we can make it. It’s going to be good music. Many people are working on the album.
WeMix: How can the public be a part of you in 2015?
Ruyonga: Be on the lookout online. Let’s burn together behind me and we get something that can’t be stopped. I believe am a fore runner of something that’s coming.
WeMix: Last words?
Ruyonga: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Mathew 6:33