[#UGBlogWeek] Unwrapped: Singer Abaasa Describes His Journey To Rukungiri Mixtape

Rukungiri Mixtape Artwork.

Rukungiri Mixtape Artwork.

Rukungiri, the idea started as an album for an artist. I had one in mind, but at the time no one knew that he wrote or sang. So I decided to give him some time to grow into his voice. In the meantime I started to write instrumentals. Over a period of 14 days we had about 6 demos. Simanyi (originally named “I dont know”), Save The Night(originally named “where is the beattt”), Ntegyerize (“Lunchtime” coz it was made at about that time), Fatal Attraction and Find Myself . Run Away, Maze and Hometown were worked on in the coming months. When the instrumentation was done for most of the demos and it was time for lyrics, I went through this procrastination process for a couple of months. It was always a back and forth battle of internal opinions about what sounds right, what sounded cheesy, how much of the story is relevant and what should be sung;

I believe until I realize that what I went through is part of a story, it’ll always hold me back for one reason or another. Sometimes writing about the stuff you’ve gone through helps you come to terms with it. Allows you to understand what’s going on; to paint a picture of how things look and how you could adjust to them. I found that documenting these stories gave me so much more power over the situations. Going through the songs, I’d hear the stuff I liked, the stuff I’d seen, felt, like it was someone else who’d gone through the entire experience and I was just listening to his stories. There’s a way trials and troubles morph us into the vessels that carry testimonies from which other people can draw strength.

I think one of the biggest challenges I faced was actually finishing the music; You’d get to a point where you have the instrumental, lyrics together but you just cant get yourself to complete the song and say “Yup! it’s done” . The worst for me was NtegyerizeI think alot of that pressure was because we’d planned to push it as our 1st single from the mix tape; It was supposed to introduce the vibe of Rukungiri. The song had to represent. I was nervous about the everything! drums, the mix, the backing vocals. I spent a whole bunch of time just editing and moving parts around in the session during the weeks coming up to the release date.

Among the main themes that I found running throughout the entire project was the choice of instrumentation. The instrumentation for each song had to be able to convey the emotion that we were going for at that point in the story. Maze had to have contrasting environments while Find Myself had to sound simple, clean, short; Run Away had to be quick, like a train of rushing sounds.

The name Rukungiri : For the project I needed music for a journey, that I could listen to as I travelled. I also needed a title that could encompass all the vibes I felt as I listened to the songs; A title that described an environment that was different. It also helped describe for me a certain way of thinking. A way of thinking that involved using the music I was making to contribute to an idea. An idea that involves a larger collective of artists. All of us representing UG on different platforms, in different circles. The name I felt would get a lot more people to know where we’re from.

Find Myself was the song for me that stood out and sounded so simple, even from the concept. The idea of not wanting or needing anything. The idea of being kawa with whatever situation I’m in, knowing that God has me in His arms. The idea of being perfect where I am and who I am in Him.

I described the project to a talented artist and former schoolmate of mine, Sasha Mbabazi. (Check out his work on Behance) I explained to him how I wanted the artwork to feel like Rukungiri in different ways, the vegetation, the landscape. I also explained to him how the stories and the music were based on the character’s love interest. We shared a couple of samples back and forth until we settled for one which had an orange theme, with a lady lying amongst flowers. We used it on all the samples we did for the CD cover. A week to the release date, Sasha sent me the final version of the artwork in color.

Livingstone (The Cat) chilling during a mix session.

Livingstone (The Cat) chilling during a mix session.

This journey started late 2013. I feel like right now is when the real work starts. It’s now when I need to be learning the most. I’m learning how to sing like Abaasa. I’m learning his lyrics, his vibe. It’s now when I need to keep an eye out; I need to learn how to keep my head down and work. Along with learning a bunch of ‘life’ stuff on the way,Rukungiri is showing me so much about production, arrangement, songwriting; about people and stories, about being part of an experience.

Rukungiri Mixtape is out now..Stream here.

Day 5 of #UGBlogWeek and we present to you a drummer, producer, singer and blogger Abaasa. His personal blog is HERE. We requested Abaasa to tell us his journey to Rukungiri Mixtape. Aren’t you just glad you read this?

If you missed the previous blog post, a poem by Josh O. Agaba. It is here. Conversations.

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8 responses to “[#UGBlogWeek] Unwrapped: Singer Abaasa Describes His Journey To Rukungiri Mixtape

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  5. Will ever understand
    But seeing u perform also begs me to say that all the blood, sweat & heat was well worth it
    I swear there is nothing like what you sound like you found you with that Rukunguri Mixtape & no pressure but I can’t wait for what all of you has to offer..
    Good job, remember that everyday
    I will forever be your invisible cheerleader

    Liked by 1 person

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