Tanzania Hip Hop and Rap Musician who is no stranger to Urban Gospel Music fans has been topping the African Countdown on one of Uganda’s Radio stations. His Elijah song which is from the “Projekt Three6Teen” has ruled the show and is a favorite in Uganda. A few weeks back, Elandre aka Emmanuel Andrew Mkumbwa, let out the album which became the buzz of the town for a while with a Listening Session that received a lot of attention like he is our home-grown artist. Indeed he is. He has worked with the late but legendary Mac Elvis on the Church Boy album title track. We listened to the album, wrote a review to feature here but well, we decided to feature him on the coveted Currently Trending segment. We also had a chat with him. Read it here.
Hello Elandre. How is Tanzania?
Hi. Tanzania is doing well. Hotter than always, feels like the sun shifted an inch or so towards the earth. We’re getting closer to elections, so a lot is happening within Tanzania’s economy, socio welfare and the like.
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And are you currently based in Tanzania?
Yes, I am currently based in Tanzania’s commercial city of Dar es Salaam. This is where most of my family and friends are also situated.
To the Ugandan who doesn’t know Elandre who is Elandre the person?
Well, I am a humble, decent, kind of soft spoken, very musical and a committed church boy. 😉 I serve in the worship team at our local church ‘Upper Room Ministry Tanzania’ and I like to take my job seriously.
Who is Elandre the artist?
Elandre the artist is rather aggressive on the mic, entertaining in a way, and very energetic. It almost feels like the Holy Spirit powers me up every time I grab the mic to do His will. As much as I can look meek and humble, I seek to get my job well done after my ministry session is over. I get tensed too just before I step on stage, so I encourage young people out there never to be afraid of stepping out into the wild; dreams do come true. I am also part of a rap group called Borne Kingz.
Could you tell us about your journey in music so far?
‘It started off with a word of prayer/ YLP I stood over there/ Thinking, what am I gon’do/ Lord please tell me how I’m supposed to serve you!’ These are the first few lines to a song my boys [Borne Kingz] and I did that refer to how my musical journey began. I used to attend a weekly prayer meeting with a group called Youth Life Prayers. We began under a mango tree in a local school compound, went on to one of our colleague’s house. This is where I began seeking God to know who I really am, what was I called to do, and stuff like that. God began revealing to me my gift of rap music through the rhymes that came out of scriptures: the book of Psalms to be specific. I wrote my first rap song then titled ‘Praise the Lord’ derived from Psalm 150. This was in 2004/5.
I began looking for a producer that could meet my standards and taste, but I found none. So I kept writing under beats created in my mind. In 2007 I met a young guy called Casy The Banger who was introduced to me by a good friend who happened to have studied in Uganda. She was super hyper unlike the rest I know. Anyway, when she introduced me to Casy, I never thought he was really all that in music production until he surprised me with a crazy beat that won my respect for him. I then recorded my first single; ‘Keep Moving’.
After this, a team of young urban missionaries from Uganda came to our church, brought by my pastor Fred Okello. And this opened my eyes to what I could be like in future. One of them was NoHell01 from the Levite Clan [LVC]. I was amazed that one can actually record a full album and give it out for free. They came back in 2009 with Mac Elvis and did a great show in one of the largest concerts in Dar called Campus Night.
A couple of years later, I took my first trip to Uganda. It was 2010 and I remember being taken to Kossovo, where the late Mac Elvis was then residing. We clicked and went to the studio right away; then Bronze Wall Music. He made me a crazy single; ‘Everyday’
, and featured me in his title track to his second album “Church Boy”.
I then met my producer Taz from Zambia in August, 2011. He is like a dream come true to my music career. He invited me to Zambia to work on my debut album. I joined him in Lusaka in January 2012. The album was completed in 2014. We didn’t have to rush. God just showed me how he can orchestrate things in His own timing, and I tell you the truth, this journey has been worth the ride.
It actually just began!
How many times have you been in Uganda? And what for?
I’ve been in Uganda for like four times or five. Mostly for vacay and exposure and by association, my pastor has been mentoring me in areas that I can best be resourceful.
What do you love the most about Uganda?
Definitely the food! Without a doubt! I love the variety and colors of the local food. No oil in it, just boiled. That really gets me appetized. Heh. I also love the hospitality, or maybe I’ve never met the wrong people. Lol.
We listened to your album and thought of your lyrics as very sincere, why do you share a lot about your life?
I think the best way to preach is really by example. Become that living sacrifice, that rag, that Jesus nailed on the cross, that role model by first experience and learning from mistakes, then teach the young ones coming behind you. I always wish to first live the word before I actually teach it to someone. Hence, I lay down my life for everyone to see my flaws, mistakes, addictions and learn from me. This is cause I’ve been there and done that already and found no fulfilment in it. The only one that can satisfy is Jesus Christ.
What is your message in the album?
The unconditional love of our Father who loved us that He gave His only begotten son. That WHOSOEVER BELIEVES should not perish, but have everlasting life. This is a message of hope, peace and love to this world we live in. I try to express God’s love the best way I know, so whoever here’s the music will know that they have been pardoned from all their sin.
A lot of artists out there have challenges in music ministry, what are/were your biggest challenges.?
Financial deficits if I should call them are quite a challenge. Sometimes you wish to be somewhere, or shoot a video with the best, but there really isn’t enough in the account for it. Mission trips and tours also depend on this.
The Christian society hasn’t accepted this type of music due to religious beliefs/backgrounds that have crippled many Christians.
The mainstream media also has no place for our kind of music. I believe if they would wipe away this biasness and played good music, this gospel would have been preached a little easier.
What would you say to that artist who wants to give up because they feel it is not making sense anymore?
If you have come this far, I don’t think God brought you this far just to embarrass you or stuff like that. Press on and don’t look back, don’t look at what’s not there but use whatever you have to conquer that Goliath. God is with you.
Should we expect a tour in Uganda or will it be only in Tanzania?
Why not, I am so looking forward to touring Uganda and East Africa at large. But y’all should expect me that side in some time to come.
Random question, what was your most embarrassing experience?
I went out riding on my sports bike when I was in my teens. Little did I know that the front tire was loose. I was trying to pull some stunts [this is not a stunt bike, mind you] and I went face down on that tarmac road. Luckily, I only cracked my front tooth, but had a swollen mouth and some explaining to do. Mum was in the kitchen and so was my elder sister with her hot girlfriend. They cracked in laughter, but ended up cleaning my wounds.
If you had to choose between movies and music and closing one means not having access to the other, which one would you go for?
I would close movies. I can go without them. Music is my daily bread kind of thing. I live, breath, eat, drink, sleep music. Lol.
Any final words?
A million thanks to UgandaGospelLife and the whole team. I am simply honored to be a part of this edition. I love you all and God bless y’all. See y’all soon. Cheers.