Entre 2 album review: Universoul

Track 10: Universoul ft. Abaasa

Universoul is the ultimate track on the album. The collabo features Abaasa, a Ugandan music producer and (predominantly gospel) singer who lives in the UK. The artists connected on Twitter and began a conversation which progressed to Skype. Abaasa created the beats for the track and recorded his vocals for the chorus, which projects an uplifting, feel-good mood:

“I’m more than what you see

I’m free like the air you breathe

Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul

I’m untouchable like a dream

Unsolvable like a mystery

I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul

Universoul…”

Abaasa emailed the demo to 1Key, who remembers escaping a noisy bar to listen to it. He told me: “It has an 80’s feel. I was born in ‘81. It was exactly what I needed!” 1key laid his vocals in French, at Yego Studio in Kampala. The contrast between 1Key’s French verses – which are rapped poetically and with purpose – and the English chorus, with its cheerful, sing-a-long quality, creates a beautifully original mood. Abaasa returned to Uganda for the Christmas holidays and the two artists met in person for the first time. They finalised their song, which was mastered by Ugandan music producer Nelson.

Entre 2 is a coming-of-age album. As we progress through the tracks, 1Key explores the twisted roots of his heritage, in search of a meaningful identity. In Universoul, 1Key makes peace with his life history, carving pride and meaning out of shame and isolation. He proclaims:

“My birth, a result of accidental conception

 Is a beautiful error just like the creation of penicillin

Such a dreamer, I aspire to make a contribution to this life

As valid as that of Fleming in medicine

When I was a kid, I wanted to become a doctor

Today my poetry heals hearts.’”(Translated from French to English)

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Courtesy of Eric 1Key

Among the ambiguities of 1Key’s life, what becomes clear is the poet’s sense of self. 1Key has transitioned from “identity crisis” to a position of artistic certainty.

1Key is half-Rwandan and half-Congolese. He has lived in the DRC, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. As a multi-lingual artist and conscious citizen of the world – who accesses online space and engages with current global debates – 1Key is at once Rwandan, African, and in his own words: “Universoul”. He tells us:

 

“I am a delta between multiple rivers

Lots of cultures coexist in my system

I come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time

 I am a mixture of everything, neither homogenous nor heterogeneous

Human. That is the signature of my genes.” (Translated from French to English)

 

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Courtesy of Hope Azeda

This emphasis on a united Humanity, where entwined linguistic and cultural influences exist in harmony, is reflective of the hopes of many Kigalians today. In 2015, I witnessed the birth of Rwanda’s Ubumuntu Arts Festival, which brings different artists from around the world to Kigali. The festival is the brainchild of Hope Azeda, the founder and Artistic Director of Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company.  Hope and I discussed what it means to be Rwandan today. She told me:

 

“So this is the Rwandan thing! We know that we speak different languages, and that we are a diverse culture, and the audience connects to that a lot. I think our differences make us strong. It has become very musical!” (Hope Azeda, 22 July 2015)

Ubumuntu means “being human”, and the festival responds to issues on a national and regional, but also global scale. Hope told me:

“It’s about restoring humanity in a world where humanity is facing extinction… it is a subject that is faceless. It’s not white, it’s not black… it has no religion, you know? Or it’s a mirror for every religion. So for me that’s why people love it. Humanity is a universal gift, but we abuse it…” (Hope Azeda, 22 July 2015)

While it true that 1Key is interested in politics, he makes it clear that he is not a politician. Despite embracing his Rwandan cultural identity, 1Key told me: “nationalities are over-rated! They are the cause of wars…” He raps:

“I am liberal and my world is not a third party

 I am far away from your imaginary boundaries that create real enemies

Away from your “united nations” to exploit the vulnerable ones and racial divisions of your “united states”…” (Translated from French to English)

In the words of 1Key himself:

1Key

1World

1Love

Let us continue to spread the word…

Entre 2 is available on Soundcloud – Entre2 and for sale on digital stores iTunesSpotify, and Amazon.

Eric 1key is very active on social media where you can find him discussing and debating all kinds of things. For updates and live info, follow Eric1key on Twitter: @eric1key, Facebook: Facebook/eric1key, Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/eric1key or email for bookings at ericonekey@gmail.com

_______

Song lyrics and translations

Universoul ft. Abaasa [Track 10 on Entre 2 album] 

Prod. Abaasa (UK), mastered by Nelson (Uganda). Vocals: Yego Studio (Kampala); French, English.

[Verse 1: Eric 1key] [Verse 1: Eric 1key]
Je suis brillant de nature I am brilliant by nature
C’est pas le talent dans l’écriture It’s not the writing skills
Les phares, les voitures The headlights, the cars
Les projecteurs des stades The stadium beams
Le bling bling ou le swag, qui font de moi une star The bling bling or the swag, that make me a star
Je suis né à la belle étoile I was born under the stars
A l’aurore du dernier jour d’Avril At the aurora of the last day of April
A l’aube du premier jour de Mai And the dawn of the first day of May
A la fin de la saison de pluies, mais crois pas que je suis né de la dernière At the end of the rainy season, but don’t you think that I was born yesterday
Je suis un delta entre plusieurs rivières lointaines I am a delta between multiple distant rivers
Plein de cultures cohabitent dans mon système Lots of cultures coexist in my system
Je viens de nulle part, en même temps de partout I come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time
Je suis un mélange de tout, ni homogène ni hétérogène I am a mixture of everything, neither homogenous nor heterogeneous
Humain avant tout, c’est la signature de mes genes Human. That is the signature of my genes
Des fois j’ai l’impression que mon existence est une conspiration universelle Sometimes I have a feeling my life was conspired by the universe
Car ma naissance suite à une conception accidentelle My birth, a result of accidental conception
Est une belle erreur comme la création de la pénicilline Is a beautiful error just like the creation of penicillin
Reveur, j’aspire à faire une contribution dans cette vie Such a dreamer, I aspire to make a contribution to this life
Aussi valide que celle de Fleming en médecine As valid as that of Fleming in medicine
Quand j’étais petit, je voulais devenir docteur When I was a kid, I wanted to become a doctor
Aujourd’hui ma poésie soigne les coeurs Today my poetry heals hearts
Si tu veux savoir qui je suis, tu me trouveras If you want to know who I am, you will find me
Parmi ceux qui croient que le hasard fait bien des miracles Among those who believe that everything happens for a reason, however random
[Chorus: Abaasa] [Chorus: Abaasa]
I’m more than what you see I’m more than what you see
I’m free like the air you breathe I’m free like the air you breathe
Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul I’m unstoppable, I’m untouchable, universoul
I’m untouchable like a dream I’m untouchable like a dream
Unsolvable like a mystery Unsolvable like a mystery
I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul, universoul, universoul
Universoul… Universoul…
[Verse 2: Eric 1key] [Verse 2: Eric 1key]
J’ai pas le front patriotique, ni le derrière merdique des politiques I do not push patriotism upfront like dirty ass politicians
Mes organes n’ont votre sens du sacrifice My organs do not have your sense of sacrifice
J’ai l’syndrome John Q, je ne donnerai mon coeur qu’à mon fils I have John Q syndrome, I would only give my heart to my son
J’veux pas d’édifice à mon effigie quand je serai parti I do not want structures in my effigy when I am gone
Je veux pas qu’on me traite de héros, nombreux sont morts pour des faux idéaux I do not want to be treated as a hero, many died for false ideals
Je paris qu’ils se retournent au fond de leurs tombes quand ils observent ce qu’on a fait de ce monde I bet they roll over in their graves when they see what we have done to this world
Je suis pas international, je crois pas aux frontières I am not international, I think not at the borders
Je suis plutôt libéral et mon monde n’est pas un tiers I am liberal and my world is not a third party
Loin de vos limites imaginaires qui créent des réels ennemis I am far away from your imaginary boundaries that create real enemies
Loin de vos nations unies pour exploiter les plus démunis et des divisions raciales de vos états unis Je m’évade à travers les couloirs de la vie Away from your “united nations” to exploit the vulnerable ones and racial divisions of your “united states” I escaped through the corridors of your life
Mon âme slalome vers mon étoile, viens si t’as envie, mon univers est infini My soul roams towards my star, join if you want, my universe is infinite
Mon hymne est un freestyle au rythme de mon coeur My anthem is a freestyle on the rhythm of my heartbeat
Mon drapeau tout comme ma peau n’a pas de couleur My flag, just like my skin, is colourless
Je suis fait d’eau, de terre, d’air mais aussi de lueur I am made of water, earth, air but also light
C’est pourquoi tout comme ces astres au milieu Des ruines et des désastres je brille de mille feux That is why just like celestial bodies, in the middle of ruins and disasters, I shine bright
[Chorus: Abaasa] [Chorus: Abaasa]
I’m more than what you see I’m more than what you see
I’m free like the air you breathe I’m free like the air you breathe
Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul I’m unstoppable, I’m untouchable, universoul
I’m untouchable like a dream I’m untouchable like a dream
Unsolvable like a mystery Unsolvable like a mystery
I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul, universoul, universoul
Universoul… Universoul…
[Outro: Eric 1key] [Outro: Eric 1key]
Je suis apatride pas métis I am stateless not half-caste
Mon esprit ski entre les galaxies My spirit skis between galaxies
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