Entre 2 album review: Who is Eric 1Key?

Credit: Innovation Village
Photo credit: Innovation Village

Eric 1Key (real name Eric Ngangare) is one of Rwanda’s most exceptional creative talents. He is a multi-lingual hip-hop poet, spoken word artist, blogger, actor and advocate of Kigali’s blossoming live music scene. Born to a Rwandan mother and Congolese father, 1Key has lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda – where he lives today. Between November 2014 and February 2015 – and while living in Kampala, Uganda – 1Key created his debut album Entre 2 (“Between Two”). Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: Who is Eric 1Key?”

Entre 2 Album Review: Apprenti_Sage

Track 1: Apprenti_Sage (“Wise Apprentice/Learning”)

Apprenti_Sage is the album’s opening track. Drawing on the Rwandan tradition of Kwivuga, which literally means bragging, 1key introduces and asserts himself as a poet and as an artist, who terrorizes his enemies! Within the tradition of Rwandan praise poetry there are numerous specialist sub-genres, including the poetry of dynasty, the poetry of farmers, and amahamba (“the praising of cows”). According to 1key: “Kwivuga was everybody’s poetry”. Created and performed by men and boys, kwivuga is about lineage and ego: “it’s about knowing who you are and ensuring that others know too” (1Key). In this case, 1Key identifies himself as the son of his personal hero, his late Grandfather Ngangare Rugambwa. Continue reading “Entre 2 Album Review: Apprenti_Sage”

Entre 2 album review: Mal Appris

Track 2: Mal Appris (“Miseducated”)

The album’s second track, Mal Appris (“Miseducated”), opens to a dramatic clap of thunder, out of which spills the sound of rain and over which we hear the melody of a well-known Rwandan nursery rhyme. As the melodic phrase repeats, 1Key poetically recalls childhood memories from his earliest years spent in Goma, DRC. In French, 1Key paints a vivid scene, with blissful images of innocence existing alongside poverty, hunger and the sadistic behaviour of his school teachers. He tells us: Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: Mal Appris”

Entre 2 album review: A l’Africaine (Iwacu)

Track 3: L’Africaine (Iwacu) [“In the African Style (Iwacu)”]

A l’Africaine (Iwacu) (“In the African Style [Iwacu]”) is a love song between 1Key and Africa, his Iwacu, which means “home” or “homeland” in Kinyarwanda. In his song, 1Key invites us to a generalised Africa. His detailed descriptions evoke the human senses when he speaks of rain flowing over skin, kept warm by the sun. He tells us: “Close your eyes so I can remove your mascara with my kisses”, and: “Come, put your head on my chest/Listen to the echo of the source of my forces.” (Translated from French to English) The hook, too, has a particularly seductive quality: Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: A l’Africaine (Iwacu)”

Entre 2 album review: Virtually Yours

Track 4: Virtually Yours ft. Ricky Password & Mhinganzima 

While A L’Africaine (Iwacu) expresses 1Key’s romantic nostalgia for a time before apps and gadgets, the album’s following track throws us forwards into a celebration of online space and its capacity for enabling love and musical collaboration. Virtually Yours narrates an online love story, with the feel-good mood being inspired by Ray Charles’s influential song What’d I Say (1959). Recorded at audio-producer Barick’s home-studio in Kigali, Virtually Yours is alive and upbeat. The free-feeling quality is achieved by the fast tempo, the strong backbeat of the drum kit, and the attack of the electric piano rhythms. We hear multiple voices singing in Kinyarwanda, French and English, reflecting the new Kigali today, where entwined linguistic and cultural influences feed into an increasingly diverse and interesting creative arts scene. Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: Virtually Yours”

Entre 2 album review: Carpe Diem

Track 5: Carpe Diem (“Seize the Moment”)

Carpe Diem is a song that we can all relate to in one way or another. Many of us will be familiar with the Latin aphorism, which translates as “Seize the Day” or “Seize the Moment”, as it is intended here. And, indeed, many of us share 1Key’s inner battle between existing in the here-and-now and worrying about the future. In an age of instant communications, global terror threats, and economic uncertainty, fear and anxiety are arguably on the rise. Some people think about their future, with its endless possibilities and increasingly high expectations, and become overwhelmed. Many others are forced to live from day to day; crippled by political, economic and/or social insecurities, they are unable to make plans for the futures they desire. Continue reading “Entre 2 album review: Carpe Diem”