Ugandan singer-songwriter, guitarist and music producer JC Muyonjo has released his fourth album Afrosphere, which explores various afro-pop rhythms and rich melodies inspired by RnB and hip-hop.
The seven tracks on the album are sang in English, Luganda, Rutooro, Runyankore, and Kiswahili.
Muyonjo, who began his music career in 2012, has three other albums: If We Try, Kidandali EP, and Alkebulan EP.
He has performed at festivals like the Bayimba International Festival, Blankets and Wines, and Doadoa and shared the stage with top musicians such as Maurice Kirya, Ruyonga, ThaMith and Sandra Nankoma and Lillian Mbabazi.
Born in 1990, Muyonjo has a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial and Fine Art from Kyambogo University.
He says of the title: "Afro is from being Afro centric and Sphere from Atmosphere. I took elements from Afro pop, beats and rhythms which I fused with genres which I first fell in love with, RnB and hip-hop."
In this collaboration, he uses his songs to tell stories.
"The album has a lot of rap because I wanted strong lyrical and storytelling elements and rap lends itself to this a lot. Secondly, I have a background in the genre and was heavily influenced by it while growing up," Muyonjo says.
The album is about love. "Love is the strongest dopamine inducer and hence the most relatable. Moyo Wangu is the start of the journey and Kankusubize is where you affirm your commitment to it. The album is my journey as a Ugandan artiste and my commitment to music —my love."
What attracted you to music?
My late dad Mr. Muhenda Fred was a huge music lover so all the Lingala he played in the house attracted me to melody when I was really young. My uncle David introduced me to hip-hop.
What messages does you music convey?
My music is about different aspects of life and not tailored to specific themes so I have made music about love, faith, politics and social issues. I think people need theme songs on what they are going through and we the musicians are meant to provide this.
How do you combine fine art and music?
I am trying to find a way of presenting both aspects of my creative journey through audio visual productions without separating them. Currently, I practice them separately and it feels like having two different careers.
How has Covid-19 affected you as an artist?
Covid-19 put a halt on performances which was a huge challenge given many of us lost revenue streams and it also felt like losing a limb.
How fast do you see the cultural and creative industries picking up in Uganda, now that the economy is being fully opened after the lockdowns?
I think we will pick up quickly given Ugandans love entertainment and return to where we left off. However, there a certain underlying issues at the institutional level that will stay the same if no one is intentional about fixing them and we would end up right back in a ditch if something similar to Covid-19 hit us in the future.
How best would you describe the state of the music industry in Uganda?
It needs structure, organization and more skilled technocrats from different professions to help it grow to a respectable level. The assumption many have is that talented musicians will make it thrive and forget the role capital investment, the media and government policies could play.