Lately, collaborations seem to dominate the airwaves of local and regional radio and television stations. These songs are also being played in night clubs.
However, what is worrying is that most of these songs are by artistes from across the region who worked with local musicians. The key question now is are collaborations the way forward in terms of promoting local music?
The increase in collaborative projects among young musicians dates back to 2007, when Rafiki worked with Jose Chameleon, then Miss Jojo with Michael Ross from Uganda.
From 2011, Thomas Muyombo better known as Tom Close recorded Mama W’abana bange with Uganda’s Radio and Weasel. Mico the Best recorded a collabo with Tanzania’s Diamond Platinumz.
Other musicians like Diana Teta, Miss Shanel, Knowless Butera, Dream Boys and Alioni Buzindu followed, though their music didn’t reach as bigger an audience as they would have liked.
“Collaborations are not easy and so the artistes involved have to be confident and well informed about their craft,” said Eric Kirenga, an administrator of Afrogroov, an artistes’ management company, which has produced several collaborations.
Collaborations have been one of the ways for artistes to gain popularity in countries like Uganda, Burundi and Nigeria.
“Collaborations when well marketed can see artistes gain new followers,” said Pius Rukabuza, better known as Deejay Pius, adding, “It is quite hard for most new artistes to break through the music scene and especially in other countries. But, with collaborations this becomes easier.”
Having started his solo career in April last year, Deejay Pius has seen his popularity go beyond the country’s border.
He has worked on successful collaborations with Ugandan artistes Jose Chameleon, Radio and Weasel. He has also gone on tour around Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Central African Republic, Belgium and France.
Of late, musicians like Charly and Nina, Deejay Pius, Deo Munyakazi, Kitoko, Jody Phibi, Yvan Buravan and The Ben, have recorded and released music that has appealed to a regional audience.
Last year, Charly and Nina recorded a song titled Owooma with Uganda’s Geosteady. Collaborations have seen the musicians embrace singing in different languages.
“Being able to sing in different languages has seen us being able to hold concerts in countries like Uganda,” said Charly.
In 2013, Kid Gaju released a song with Radio and Weasel. In the same year he recorded a song with Cindy Sanyu, which gained him fame in Uganda.
Last year, the artiste got signed by Team No Sleep, a prominent Ugandan management Company.
“Working on collaborations has been an eye opener for us and we need to do more,” said James Manzi alias Humble Jizzo, a member of the Urban Boys group, which has recorded songs with Ugandan artistes like Radio and Weasel, Jackie Chandiru and Ykee Benda.
Urban Boys have also worked with popular Nigerians artistes like Iyanya and Timaya.
“By improving the quality of music production, management and performance, Rwandan musicians can reach a wider audience,” said DJ Fresh Freddie, a Kigali-based deejay and music consultant.