19 November 2012

Rwanda: Still Battling the Language Barrier - Trudi

Born in Congo, raised in Tanzania an currently living in Rwanda, the country of his mother. As an artist, you can't get more regional than Joshua Pyndje, who goes under the stagename Trudi.

"I came to Rwanda in 2010 to pursue my studies at Butare University but my family got some financial constraints so I failed to continue," Trudi explains.

With little on his hands, he decided to concentrate on music. "Pursuing music was always part of the plan, so I'm now settled on doing music."

That doesn't come as a surprise, really - Pyndje's father use to sing in a choir and his older sister, having noticed that the youngster too had talent, encouraged him to also get into music. "As a young boy already, I saw my father sing and dreamt of becoming an artist; so I got into the choir and I used to play drums, which eventually led me to become a rapper and MC."

And according to Trudi, music comes easy to him - all he needs, he says, is a topic and will write a rap of one verse and a chorus in just a few minutes. "I do have a lot of words running through my head all the time, and it's even easier when I'm inspired by a challenge I have gone though or going through; I don't even need to write it down, I just need two minutes and I'm off to the studio."

He started getting more serious about music in 2008 with Wapi Entertainment in Arusha, when he used to rap with various Tanzanian artists. He released his first song in Butare in 2010, titled 'Tumefika.' Today, Trudi has published 29 songs, yet despite this proliferation he complains about visibility.

"The radios here do not promote artists; they play a song and don't even mention who the artist is, or even worse they cut it short," he laments. "We give them our music for free to play and they are not promoting us."

When asked which of his songs so far is his favorite, Trudi has a hard time to chose, but in the end he settles 'Chapaa.' He hopes to release his first album, to be called 'Umunyamahanga,' in February or March.

Despite not being a household name yet in Rwanda, he has already worked with some local artists, notably Tom Close and Carime Malia Uwamahoro, as well as some Tanzanian musicians. Yet he believes the music industry in Rwanda still has a long way to go.

"The music scene is not yet mature. I have observed the music and artists here, talked to some of them and attended album launches, and I hear that an artist here gets about 1 million francs to perform while in Tanzania that would be close to 7 million."

He also thinks that language is still a problem. "To me, Hip-Hop is a culture; I am more of an MC, I mean I speak to people, my rap music is meant to reach out to the unprivileged, especially those in war torn areas. But the problem is people here do not understand my music because I usually use English," Trudi explains. "I'm still trying to get my Kinyarwanda perfect."

Apart from music, Pyndje is also an avid football player - in fact, initially he dreamt of making a career in sports. He still isn't sure when that passion was replaced by music, but he has no regrets. "I believe music will take me to greater heights and places," he says confidently.

The album launch will be a first test to see if that dream comes true.

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