Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: Trying to Make It Big in the USA - Jean-Luc

If you've come across a song by the artist Jean-Luc on YouTube, you might have though he is an African-American artist - his video clips can't be distinguished from those of other American RnB artists, with professionally recorded sound, perfect lighting, and of course sexy women. He has the accent, too.

And yet he's Rwandan, although currently living in the USA. Jean-Luc Kaberuka, 25, was born here, but when he was 7 his family fled the country because of the Genocide. "We moved to Congo, then Burundi and later Uganda," he says. "I came back to Rwanda after the Genocide - I spent a year of high school at Green Hills, I loved every second of it and met some lifelong friends."

He moved to the United States in 2003, where he currently divides his time between Sacramento and San Francisco in California where he is making a living as a musician. He says that he was already passionate about music at the age of about 4. He used to sing about everything, and drum with forks on plates.

"As time went on, I wanted to sound like the best of them," Jean-Luc says. "My passion then led me on an incredible journey in finding myself as an artist."

He has already released so many songs that he has lost count - but it's more than 100, in various stages of completion. Due to how music industry is changing, as an independent artist he has chosen to market singles one at a time rather than albums, since according to him nowadays fans buy into the artist themselves.

"I released a mixtape last year entitled 'Takeovah.' Regardless of the amount of songs I have, my approach in releasing material has changed. I believe that we're in an age of transparency as far as music goes. So if your great personality is matched by great music, you'll definitely win."

Jean-Luc works with an independent label called International Inc. He makes all his songs in Timeless Studios and Sound Cap Audio.

The RnB/Hip-Hop/AfroTechno singer says that he has chosen the specific genre because he's "naturally an RnB singer" and that "this is the right fit." He usually sings about life, love, knowledge, spirituality and struggle. "Life always presents new opportunities and possibilities, so there's always something new to sing about. I like to call it the music of life," he says.

Since he went to the US, he has met a few established and upcoming artists. "I've mainly worked with Ganza Aimhigher. He was the visual director behind the videos of my last mixtapes."

When he's writing his songs, he tries to be one with the music -he lets the beat talk to him. "You get inspired when you feel the beat. When I'm doing everything and put it together, I picture myself in the club."

One of his recent songs is called 'Déjà Vu,' a love song based on personal experience about seeing a beautiful young lady who reminds him of his ex-girlfriend. In the song, he wonders whether the girl is real or not.

"I kind of feel like I've been through that process before. Everything is like a déjà-vu. I want the fans to know what inspired some of the concepts, and how they come about, so that they have a connection with the song."

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