HHAP Episode 23: Uganda’s Ruyonga on African/African American Relations, Black Panther, Politics, and Christianity

This interview with Ugandan artist Ruyonga, formerly known as Krukid, is an in-depth discussion on the artist’s perspective on the Black experience, relations between African Americans and Africans in America, his issues with the Black Panther film, being a Christian MC, and his perspective on laws and politics in Uganda.

Ruyonga studied in the U.S. in the early 2000s. He began rapping in Uganda before coming to the States, and he established an underground career in the U.S. and became known for his distinct sound and strong lyrical ability. After almost a decade in the US, Ruyonga returned to Uganda. He changed his name to Ruyonga and built his career as a Christian rapper.

After a long stay Ruyonga has an interesting perspective on being an African immigrant in America, and the tensions between African and African American communities. He talks about those tensions from an African immigrant perspective, and comments on the diverse racial and ethnic dynamics he saw in different parts of the United States. The conversation turns towards pop culture and race and Ruyonga has strong feelings about the Black Panther and the representations of Africans in the film, and Hollywood’s presentation of the Black experience.

Ruyonga also opens up about his views on race, Black pride, and feminism, as well as his views on the ways different groups of people have been pitted against each other. Part of the conversation includes the artist’s views on some of Uganda’s more controversial laws regarding women and sexuality, especially the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Still a strong lyricist, Ruyonga now uses Christianity as the vehicle with which to express his lyricism. His latest release is Voice Of My Father, and follows an impressive body of work that spans over 10 years. Ruyonga is on

BandCamp at https://ruyonga.bandcamp.com

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ruyonga/482094271

Twitter: @ruyongamusic

Episode Breakdown
7:30 “African American, American African”
9:30 “Pearl City Anthem”
11:45 “Hand of God”
12:40 Background and move to the US
14:00 The Black Experience
15:15 African & African American relations
23:42 The Black Panther movie & Hollywood
29:33 Black pride, feminism
32:00 The return to Uganda
35:45 Language
37:18 Christianity & politics

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 23: Uganda’s Ruyonga on African/African American Relations, Black Panther, Politics, and Christianity”

Episode 23 Promo

When the East is in the House…

Always wanted to hear the classic Blahzay Blahzay song “Danger” in a hip-hop track from East Africa. This is a video of images and footage of East African hip hop artists (Tanzania, Uganda, & Kenya) with “Danger” playing in the background.

Krukid EP review : Things Change

This EP album was made during the whole inner self conflict between Krukid and Ruyonga. Upon finding his new found faith he also decided to be known as Ruyonga and only Ruyonga. In a recent interview with NTV, he acknowledged the true reason of returning back to Uganda in order to truly be himself, “how could you represent UG if your not even there”. 

All this too is the opening song with strong political content; “small child big belly but hungry…super power drug dealers sell to the junkie, the fast food junk death dealer selling us junk meat, everybody s a user.. if we can’t learn from our past theres no future”. Here he speaks out about massive corporations using us as guinea pigs in order to help fund the recession proof upper class turning everyone else into addicted consumers.

Ding Ding Ding, is a very up beat and progressive song in comparison to his past works. Rhyming with incredibly fast ad libs and punctual punch lines, Ruyonga’s word play is top notch no matter what any body says. With amazing lyrical context at speeds comparable to Busta, this song is a perfect anthem song to get hyped to before a party, a test, or just to get pumped up.

He also reaches out and collabs with manifest as well Renelle. In the dotted line ft Renelle he speaks about the devil and how he is “always in the details” and “signing the dotted line.. please sign.. so your destiny could be mine” with subliminal messages of not falling for temptation because as krukid states “theres no money transfers into the after life”. 

Krukid will always be known as what was Ruyonga, but Ruyonga has grown into a true lyricist with crazy rhymes with lyrical power and beats that will make you move. He still represents Africa and his family in walk a mile speaking about his passion and how family was his motivation and the struggle of moving to the promise land, a recollection of his life until now, he touches base with what once was and looks toward the future.

Krukid Ruyonga sits down for an interview with GuerrillaCross

Krukid, also most recently known as Ruyonga, sat down with NTV for an inside scoop on what goes on inside the mind of Edwin Ruyonga. He was firstly asked “who are you?” and without hesitation he said “I am an artist, I have ups and downs, I have flaws, I have talents, and I am ugandan and African and glad of it”. There is not much difference in they way he represents himself in this video interview in contrast to the way he presents himself onstage or in the studio. Representing Africa is something that stands out predominantly in his music from albums raisin in the sun all the way to his most current works Things Change, where he goes through a rebranding of his image by switching back from Krukid to Ruyonga, his official last name.

He blames a lot of his success on moving from Uganda to America in search of an education in graphic design which in Uganda, resources were limited to what he could learn and also produce as a graphic artist. Although he is not known for his visual work, he owns and manages his own clothing line which is a mixture of both cultural interest and how he said it best “personalizing” the way he wants his audience to be captured by his graphic work. Myspace he claims was also a big break because most of his hits and followers came from paying attention to his posts and uploads of music that gained him is foundational fan base.

In this 2012 interview he explains why he has chosen to travel back to Uganda after almost a decade of being away in the states for reasons such as “home cooking and having a certain gut feeling that home is home, family and all of his people are in the right place, you cannot rep UG without being there”. Stipulating about the change between Krukid and Ruyonga he explains that he “was two people in the beginning, talented and undisciplined, if I’m going to catch any flak I’m going to catch it for being me.. if I am going to be, I’m going to be Ruyonga, good or bad, i can take responsibility as a man and it is easier to do it as two people, my maturity bumped into my faith.”

His story of him losing his faith and regaining it through experience is nothing less of inspiring and has made a fan of many that have taken a chance, a chance to reconcile with ones past and upbringings to challenge everyday the limits of which you can perservere. Ruyonga takes “accountability” for his actions and the way he represents himself, not hiding behind doors or fake names and avatars, but for the love of what makes him the true Ruyonga.

Krukid: Black Immigrant Mixtape Review

The first time I listened to this, I didn’t like it, but now I understand it more and have grown to appreciate it. Starting off, this mixtape does not mention Africa much at all, besides referencing where Krukid came from in the first track entitled “Black Immigrant”. This song basically blends together his cultures of being African and African American. He can’t turn his back on the hood because he’s part of it, he feels he has to sneak around the government, and basically mentions the reality of living in the street culture.

Continue reading “Krukid: Black Immigrant Mixtape Review”

Krukid Bio

Straight out of western Uganda, Krukid, who was born as Edwin Ruyonga, stands out as one of Uganda’s more socially conscious artists. His father, a member of Bunyooro royalty, passed away when Krukid was very young, while his mother, a well-educated woman, sent him to study at an honorable Ugandan school. Though his date of birth is publicly unidentifiable, his success shot off in the early 2000s during his late teen years. Growing up, his musical inspirations included Bataka Squad, who are among the godfathers of Ugandan hip hop, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, The Lost Boys, and The Wu-Tang Clan. For him, the hip-hop bible at the time was a Source magazine, which he tried to rob someone of once. In Form 1, secondary school, he developed a passion for writing rhymes and created his first proper rhyme by Form 3. As someone who had an active imagination and watched a lot of TV, he was able to translate his creativity into rap lyrics. His first encounter with hip hop was through a South African cable channel that showed in Uganda. But because hip hop wasn’t all that popular in Africa at the time and wasn’t well-represented, he and his friends later went on to form their own hip hop group called the Urban Thugz Crew (which was later modified to Urban Life). Their music style was heavily influenced by American rap in the 90s and prominent mainstream artists such as Dr. Dre and Tupac. The group’s success at a countrywide music competition allowed for Krukid’s immigration to the United States a few years later in 2002.

Krukid’s career was launched when his submission of a personal music sample to Rawkus Records allowed him to secure a deal with Cash Hill Records and release his first CD, Raisin in the Sun, in 2005. He was later selected to be on the Rawkus 50, a list of underground hip hop acts—an opportunity hundreds of American artists struggle for years to finally gain. Eventually, he formed his own crew, which originally consisted of him, Anti Heroes, and John Doe, whom he met him on tour for “Raisin In The Sun” during the East Coast tour. Then, he traveled to Cincinnati, developed connections, and expanded his crew with people like J Dub, Timeless from Florida, my boy Blast the Beats from Europe, we got couple other people. There, any producers found themselves drawn to Krukid’s the originality, creativity, and substance of his style. After his immigration to the US, he continued his work in Champaign, IL (where he currently resides) by opening for many mainstream artists, including Lupe Fiasco and the Yin Yang Twins. A couple of years back, Krukid formed the group A.R.M (African Rebel Movement) with Ghanain Rapper M.anifest and American producer Budo. Despite the fame and success, Krukid remained a strong, insightful rapper, focusing on addressing topics like corruption, poverty, violence, and conflict in his songs. For instance, track #9 off his third album raps, “Little foreign aid and no government housing,” “they made me a murderer when I was young, I got blood on my hands, when they killed my father and they raped my mother, and the first life they forced me to take was my brother’s.” On his perspective about the controversy of hip hop on whether it’s something that’s either dead or alive, he argues that it is very much alive and well though still underrepresented. Having released three critically acclaimed albums “Raisin in the Sun,” “Afr-I-can” and “Black Mixtape” while still on tour with the guidance of his world-famous record label, Krukid is steadily transforming the mainstream hip-hop scene by bringing a combination of cultural influences and fresh, new beats to the fore.

Biography of Krukid

Krukid’s actual name is Edwin Ruyonga and he is from the east African country of Uganda. I have not been able to discover his birth date or current age, but I assume when he got his big break in 2000 he was in his late teens. In Uganda, there weren’t many hip hop artists, so he was influenced by the American rap of the 90s that they were able to see from a South African channel they got on t.v. This included Tupac, Notorious B.I.G, and Wu Tang Clan. With the youth being exposed, music and music videos transferred over into Uganda. More exposure to this got Krukid fully engulfed in the culture of hip hop and he learned to express his thoughts and creativity through rap.

Krukid formed a group with his friends called Urban Thugz. They went on to win a countrywide music competition  and from that success, Krukid was able to release a single in Uganda. It brought him fame, but his mother being an educated woman, wanted her son to go to school. She sent him to the United States a couple of years later in 2002, and along with his education, Krukid continued to pursue music.

Once in the U.S, Champaign, IL to be exact, he continued his work  by opening for many underground artists such as Lupe Fiasco and The Roots. He moved to Las Vegas for a bit where he won best hip hop award at the Local Music Awards two years in a row. His success caught they ears of music talents and he was signed under Cash Hill. Under them he made his first album “Raisin in the Sun” in 2005. Krukid was then selected to be put on the Rawkus 50 which is a list of underground hip hop acts and released another album under Rawkus Records in 2007 titled “Afr-I-Can”. Recently, Krukid has formed the group A.R.M ( African Rebel Movement) with Ghanain Rapper M.anifest and American producer Budo who already released and EP and LP in 2010. Krukid is an evolving rapper, focusing on integrating all parts of his music into his message. He refuses to believe that hip hop is dead or will ever die because it is such a stong and powerful artform. KRukid knows you have to stay on top of the game in order to stay in the game. He strives to stay fresh and strong in who he is as an African, African-American, and hip hop artist.

African by Krukid

This video is from a performance in Minneapolis. This was one of my favorite songs on Krukid’s Afr-I-Can album because of his delivery on it. Even though this wasn’t an official video, all nicely produced, hearing it live and acappella made it especially more entertaining and meaningful. I’m not a fan of his instrumentals in his records, so hearing something for just the content was really good. He is stating in this song that he is Africa; every single country. It is who he will always be and strive to represent. It is his home, and he will never forget it nor do it wrong. It is a part of him and forever will be. I like the audience’s reaction to him. You can tell that some know who he is and some don’t, but he still has and earns respect from them. Another cool thing about this video is he performs this with M.anifest because they are in a group called A.R.M (African Rebel Movement) together. It is very entertaining to see artists from similar backgrounds get together because you see the intensity of their message and effect of their success in getting their message out.

Krukid: Afr-I-Can Album Review

Krukid really came through with this album. He put in his heart and soul into his songs and their content. I was very moved and impressed with most of the songs on this album. I could tell that his message and style had matured and that there was a general theme to the entire album. This was very different from his first album “Raisin in the Sun” where, to me, he seemed to just throw a lot of ideas together, not necessarily into a mess, but made it an outlet for his excitement from success. HE mentions Uganda and his roots more in this album, which was really interesting to hear. Starting off, his first song “African” uses some of another language. He literally just names off African countries, but as he does this he ties himself to each, saying he is each country and at the same time is African-American. I thought it was pretty powerful and really relayed his home pride. Krukid definitely enjoys rapping about women, but it’s not so much about tearing them down as it is appreciating them and his excitement of what he is able to do with them. I find it pretty entertaining to hear how much he looks forward to this. Krukid also talks about his experience in the city life. These two topics both reveal what he finds most rewarding about his immigration experience, along with his success. He works 24/7, spitting out tracks to make money and keep his dream alive, and has gotten, in return, play time. He doesn’t talk about the benefits in an immature way however, more as a matter-of-fact way and that he appreciates it.

The most powerful song on this album was “Invisible”.  Here Krukid talks about the horrors of his country and the fact that so many people turn their eyes away from the obvious events of kids becoming killing machines, and brutal genocides. As he rapped, he did so in first person, showing how much the violence affects him and his country. His message seemed angry that the goings-ons weren’t being seen or aided, and that he, hypothetically as a child soldier, was left on his own to kill his own family and be able to live a life after. This song and “City Life” were the main two that discussed social and political topics. It’s interesting because each is coming from a different part of the world; the social results of becoming an African-American hip hop artist, and the social and political aspects of warfare in his country.

Something I’ve noticed about Krukid is that he likes to build himself up, or is constantly trying to reassure the audience that he’s a rapper. This could be part of the status aspect of hip hop, but it gets a little annoying to hear that repeated. He should let his art speak for itself and let the listeners take what they can about the type of artists he is.

In the song “Real Talk”, Krukid has an interesting line that says something about even though he’s behind a steel mic, he’s still real. This song shows that he’s probably met some resistance and negative feedback from long time friends or others close to him. Sometimes, fame brings a lot of consequences, one of which can be to lose who you really are, but with Krukid recognizing that this could happen yet he is still staying true to himself, does show that that’s how he intends to be forever. He is not trying to sell out his style or words for another life.