Music Review: Kanura
Kanura - A literal translation would be ‘open up your eyes’ but in this case a more fitting definition would be ‘Pay attention’.
Sogokuru - A kinyarwanda word meaning grandfather.
The mixtape is available to stream online at Kigalicious
Ecclectic influence, a blend of music genres, Dave-astateur’s first official mixtape “Kanura” is a nonchalant embodiment of wisdom. Kanura feels almost like a narrative, a race through time, a medium into which the listener loses themselves and finds themselves eventually, which I think the rapper intends as a careful listen to the lyrics would hint at a process of self-discovery for the Burundian-Rwandan rap artist.
The mixtape opens with ‘vole petit oiseau’, a song set in the rapper’s probable teenage past which he brilliantly paints for us, describing his thoughts after a night out riding on a taxi-moto on his way home.
3 heures du mat sur une moto, mon phone est mort, j’ai plus de batterie; les nuits etaient courtes sur le toit du papyrus.
His use of Diddy’s catch phrase ‘As we proceed to give you what you need’ gives this first track its preparatory vibe as a great intro to Kanura.
In ‘Veronika’, the next track on the mixtape, although seeming like a song about a lady with the same name from looking at the title, Dave-astateur delivers a playfully lyrical first verse, almost as though he were talking to you, the listener. “M’ecoutes pas jsuis hors de moi, Pas compris ce que t’as dit c’est la murda quoi?”. The mood shifts and the rapper takes on a serious note in the second verse declaring his attitude towards his art. “Le tradition orale deconne faut que je tienne ma langue; Je n’ai ni le temps ni l’espace a deconner”. The poetic close to this song seems to be addressed to Veronika and the listener is allowed the freedom to make of it what they will. “J’aimerai comprendre ta peine, ce qui compte c’est pas le temps que ca va prendre mais ce qu’il va en attendant ce moment”. This track has an air of growth for the rapper, and is a bridge between the rapper’s work and emotional life.
Whereas the first two tracks focus on the rapper himself, a kind of introspection of past events, the next track ‘ikivelo’ is a comparison between the rapper’s inner life and the world around him. He invites us to listen “Bon viens je t’introduis a mon monde, Je te previens ma vie n’a rien de rose”. You’re pulled from his mind’s workings by the hook “Nti bazi makavelli bose bagendera mu kivelo”. Makavelli being a play on Niccolo Machiavelli’s name, perhaps one of the greatest political thinkers and philosophers of all time. This is an excellent criticism of society, warning against conformity and shallow thought. The second verse takes us back into the rapper’s past once again with a brain-picking line “le present, le passe, le futur, le present du passe, je deconne, je deconne, je deconne”. Dave-astateur looks on his past and observes that the mistakes he made were, he says, “bien plus que mes ancestres.” The track ends with the rapper saying in Kirundi “Barushe amayeri hageze wewe uce ukivako”, a sign that conformity is not absolute, that everyone should attempt to form their own understanding.
‘Ma chanson’ is a musically enjoyable song that samples Cecile Kayirebwa’s ‘Umunezero’ with Lous performing beautifully the hook. From the beginning of the song, it is clear that the rapper’s ambition for success is meant to be communicated and yet a second listen reveals a sort of sadness that is a potential result of pursuing success. A theme that rappers such as J.Cole have explored before.
“bagataka bagasamaza, bakabihiriza ubwiza bwako, ashwi najye suko mba nanze, gusa mba mfite indi mirimo; je serai tristement celebre si je devais etre triste”.
The rapper is prepared to endure the pain of success as he continues in the second verse “flex flex boire de mes elixirs, la succes me reussit, si t’es du meme avis.”. In a hook that brings to mind Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Sing about me, I’m dying of thirst’, the rapper asks that the listener remember the sacrifice for success which he describes in his first verse. “donc chante ma chanson, chante ma chanson, autant de fois que tu veux; …autant de fois que tu peux”. Lous then delivers the heartbreaking hook, a separation from a lover in order to focus one’s energy on achieving success. “driving me crazy, I’m a fool of you, now won’t you let me, I’d like to go away”. The last hook however has an added message, the opinion of the lover left behind; “riding round the city just to see you left me home, you caught up in your zone, you know that you belong with me”. This has the effect of leaving the listener in a mind-shattering dilemma.
And as if Dave-astateur’s originality were not evident enough, the fifth track is truly a demonstration of what inspiration can birth. ‘Maguru’, is sang by Yannick MYK who recites the story of Maguru that is well known in Rwandan and Burundian communities and does so while giving it a trap twist. It is pure entertainment, definitely a song that’s hard to forget.
Having already established that he is “le plus jeune sogokuru que t’ai jamais rencontre” in his song ‘Ma chanson’, Dave-astateur now reveals to us the status quo, his current state of mind after so much growth, in his song ‘Sogokuru’, a title that is well constructed given that the experiences that led to it could age anyone’s perspective on things and therefore the overall message of the mixtape ‘Kanura’ at this point has just as effectively been communicated. ‘Sogokuru’ is a determined, strong, hungry track that has as purpose to introduce the MC Dave-astateur or rather to re-introduce him as a more mature, resilient rapper. “Ah non…c’est Dave astateur, Tellement versatiles les autres MCs ont vraiment tres peur”. He goes on to destroy all possibility of miscontruing his humility despite being a talented artist, as weakness “Rappeur francophone, Ah ils confondent faiblesse et humilite”. This track is meant to make his aim clear as an artist. In the outro he goes on to say in a rather hip and playful speech but putting foward a meaningful idea, that rap to him is more than beats and rhymes, that it is a way of life, his best way to express himself.
Sogokuru unleashes his rhyming skills and ability to draw inspiration from various influences even more in the next track ‘S/O’. This track serves as the ‘credits’ to a journey he says wasn’t a very easy one.
Et a tous ceux qui ont ete la pendant ce moment… C’etait pas si.. aussi facile mais ouais ouais
This track delivers a hook that the listener can’t help but be hooked to. It’s sang in a delicious Jamaican dialect which gives this song a celebratory vibe and rightly so since it is an acknowledgement of the hard work put into the mixtape. Lyrically, Dave-astateur is consistent in his brilliant construction of lines with quite a number of puns that offer us some humorous moments.
Tous ce que je fais c’est juste de l’art mais ca dans ton crane, Des que je touche aux feelings ahn je suis salopard; Oui ca c’est just la preface, En vrai tu t’es fais juste dave-aste
That pun right there, is truly unforgettable.
‘Askip’, a track that most artists can relate to, touches on one of the most important problems faced by an artist: the very selfish act by the public of wanting to consume an artist’s creation without payment. Needless to say, he points this out with some fresh lyrics.
Askip y’en a qui pensent que ca c’est un hobby, Et que peut etre je vais tout leur donner en criant for free, Je plus le time pour les activites non lucratives.
This is an important track on the mixtape because it sheds light on the seriousness of being an artist, an entertainer, however paradoxical that may sound. In simple words, an artist’s pain while creating their work must be rewarded, it should be common sense. In a move to show that he meant what he said, the rapper Dave-astateur didn’t put up his mixtape for a free download. You can ofcourse, stream it freely at Kigalicious
The pun-filled track ‘Laurent Perrier’ is the final track on the mixtape. It is an addictive track with the word-playing hook:
Tu dis que l’eau rend la peau lisse, Moi je dis que Laurent Perrier
Sogokuru doesn’t stop at killer puns though, he goes on to critique the lack of originality in most art:
Sur internet y’aura pas de tutos, Qu’est ce que tu vas faire toi qui vit du plagiat
This last track is his declaration of independence, a show of his strengths and because of the short length, a glimpse into what should be expected in his works to follow: pure brilliance.
‘Kanura’ is in many ways a revolutionary piece of work. It doesn’t happen often that an artist is able to deliver powerful artistic messages in a fun, subtle way. It is filled with great puns and rhymes, fresh trap beats, mystical verses and even tributes to the greats like Cecile Kayirebwa. Dave-astateur, or as he has grown to be called, Sogokuru, deserves to be applauded for his work. If you haven’t already, head on to Kigalicious to stream the mixtape. You will, I’m sure, find it to be an excellent addition to your music collection, well, at least as soon as it is available for purchasing.