The Rise of Rwanda's Kinyatrap

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Green Ferry Artists AntikDust at a Kinyatrap show Photo: MF and Eazy Cut/ Supplied)
Green Ferry Artists AntikDust at a Kinyatrap show Photo: MF and Eazy Cut/ Supplied)

On the first day of the new decade in Kigali, Rwanda, the streets are lit. In Nyarutarama, a normally serene suburb, an after party that started at sunrise pumps past sunset, hundreds of revelers spilling noise into the warm night. Across the hill in the party district of Remera, it’s business as usual: only the scattered crowd idling outside Kigali Arena don’t seem to be in the mood, ticketless and filled with fomo for the East African Party concert that’s happening inside. “Bushali sold out the EAP”, they lament on Twitter.

The most anticipated act at this concert, Bushali, is a pioneer, prodigy and poster child of kinyatrap, the maverick musical wave sweeping Rwanda. With a seamless lyrical flow whose cadence is reminiscent of kwivuga — the spoken word performed at weddings and other ceremonies — kinyatrap melds poetic tradition with unpredictable melodies and stirring beats, creating a distinctly Rwandan reimagination of trap music.

Its recent ascents has been shepherded by local indie label, Green Ferry Music. When Green Ferry’s founder Dr. Nganji created a trap-inspired beat in 2016 and Bushali freestyled some lyrics over it, they’d instinctively caught onto the potential in this serendipitous sound. Kinyarwanda being the national language, they dubbed it kinyatrap. “We wanted it to be that genre that everyone can join. Traditional music of Rwanda but with new technology", explains Nganji, a self-taught music producer since the age of sixteen.

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