Young people in Uganda are taking on the creative landscape in the country. Most are not holding back and are storming this field with their art, music, comics, writings, films and more. Which has brought a whole new bold and fresh aura to the Uganda creative scene. They are not entirely identifying with what the past has pushed them to think that they are supposed to be. And who wouldn’t be interested in youths that are taking a stand and shaking the tables with their new vibrant and gyrating passions.
In this QnA today, we have the amazing Ladong Eric Emmanuel aka DRILLZ THE RAPPER. One of the rising young artists that are breaking through the music industry in Uganda.
QN; Who is Drillz The Rapper?
ANS; Drillz the rapper is a persona created by me, Ladong Eric Emmanuel. I wouldn’t want to say that it’s just a stage name because I believe Drillz wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t created the persona. However, Drillz is a rapper, a singer and a producer. The name though came from a friend, Marvin Muhoozi, he came up with the name.
QN; What first got you into music?
ANS; I think I’ve loved music since I was a kid. Actually, I started off as a dancer, My parents too told me stories of how I used to dance all the time, call myself names of the artists or even songs, and that’s how I’d introduce myself to people who would then complain to my parents. I continued with dancing throughout primary, with a little miming of the songs, no thought of doing music yet. In my high school, I had become a better dancer, then I started singing around my senior 2. I’d sing other artists songs, and I had a classmate I’d sing with. And that’s when the love for writing came in. Rapping came in later on and as you can see, the rapping bit of it has taken over. There was a rapper in my class though, Wandera, he was really good, he actually released a couple of tracks in our form 3 and they became hits in school, he inspired me to start writing, I loved the process. There was also a group in the class above mine, they called themselves High Society Music, very good rappers, 8thWonder256, Arthur Mainest, Larry, and a singer – Naika, a top tier vocalist, I don’t remember if there were others though. I liked their group, it was inspiring, they even performed at school some time on the same stage as Navio ( a popular Ugandan artist ), and damn, it was nice to see. Moving forward to my senior 4, I met Marvin Muhoozi who actually named me Drillz, he started calling me Drillz and I called myself iEmma so I just added it as iEmma Drillz, finished my freestyles that would hype people, later in my senior 5, my class had rappers, singers, instrumentalists, and it was crazy, I mean, imagine a class full of talented people, and nothing to do about that. I had started writing but I couldn’t rap that stuff out, it was embarrassing, even when I go through some old writings, I’m like “yoooo, what was this?” But the growth is a beautiful thing.
That’s when I met Kabeba, we called him Tiki though, and that’show his stage name became 7iki. He loved rapping and he hyped me even when I sounded wack. I then met the late Mubanda Graham (aka Dr. Gray) who became a very good friend of mine, we’d always sit outside and rap, sing, during class time. Mubanda, Zagga Luzige, Obote Gabriel, Kabeba, Arthur Mainest, Melvin Kibirige , mad mad friendship and art. There are so many of them I’d take all day mentioning them.
My first song was produced by Right Beats and the instrumental was by a fellow friend and artist Isaiah (TheSeptKid). I rapped throughout the track and I was pleased, everyone who listened gave positive feedback, and that was the beginning of real music from me.
There’s so much that got me into music but I do not want to take all the time, it would take a while.
QN; How would you describe the music that you create?
ANS; Art. I describe my music as art. If one understands metaphors or punchlines, they’ll get a message from my music, whatever song it is, there’s always a message or a punchline to make someone think, and that’s something I love doing, I love making people think in a way that it feels good, imagine the joy of listening to a song, you Hera a line and you related to it or you out it into imagination, now imagine you making someone go through that, it’s creative and artistic.
QN; What genre would you categorize your music?
ANS; Rap, that’s became be it a dancehall song, a pop song, a hiphop song, RnB, I’m always rapping. Though my music is never the same, I keep switching so I’ve gat a variety. And by the way, there’s something coming up in Uganda, kind of like a genre but not really a genre, it’s called Urban Flow. It encompasses all the genres with different styles of music mostly coming through the young & upcoming creatives.
QN; What is your creative process?
ANS; I start with imagination. Imagination is the father of creativity. You can’t be creative if you lack imagination. I’m always getting different rap flows in my head, how I’d want a track to sound, and I try to put that thought down, I write lyrics and store then I get back to them after a while when I’ve settled. Once I listen to a beat or a song, I imagine my verse there and then I write down what I can come up with, I wish I could write down the flow too, the flows I’ve imagined and forgotten could’ve made me the Messi of rap. Sike, but anyway, you get my point.
And any chance I get a chance to record, I record, listen to the song for a day, then edit, sleep while I listen to it, till I feel everything is ok as long as I can help it, and if I don’t get done with a project, I feel unsettled, so I get back to it till it’s done. I love the process though.
QN; Let’s talk about your latest Ep, what inspired it?
High Thoughts basically means all the thoughts we get anytime, be it high or not. Imagine, before you do something or as you’re doing something, the thoughts you get as imaginations of the different possibilities, I consider those high Thoughts. Even the thoughts when one is high, yeah. And also, I felt like a needed to do something different from the usual. If you listen to my previous music till High Thoughts, The EP, you’ll that there is so much growth, and it’s also a different style from what I normally do, but like I said, my music is always different. My brother and fellow rapper, Curtis also pushed me to do a full project. This year, my mum gave me her blessings to do music and I was really excited so that was a contribution, it feels a different kind of good when your parents support you as you do music, you know that doesn’t just come easy in Africa, Uganda. My friends also hyped me when I released the single titled High Thoughts, it was different and people were amazed. My friend, Nkuubi, kept on telling me that a full length project would do High Thoughts some justice, so I went for it, still a little hesitant though, coz I’d normally stop at 5 songs whenever I tried to make an album. Actually, the first album I was supposed to make, Kavali King was set to produce it, I ended up releasing only 2 songs, imagine, I was that lazy😂 but later I started putting in more effort, mad since I’ve been learning more about production, I’ve been producing all my music, it’s been a journey I’m still enjoying. I had also lost my friend earlier this year, Mubanda Graham, and I needed to pay my respects to him, he features on the EP too as Dr. Gray.
QN; What has been your favorite performance?
ANS; My first official performance as an artist was in Jinja, at the Makerere Business School in Nakawa freshers’ ball in 2018. I performed alongside Sophie Birra who gave me the courage and the hype, my boy Moodyz & Duncan Opio who came with me on stage to support a homeboy. It was crazy, I performed after Beenie Gunter and it felt like he was my curtain raiser. After performing, before leaving, some kid’s came to me, told me they loved my performance, my style of music and they needed advice, also asked me for a freestyle, which I delivered of course, I couldn’t disappoint. We went back to hostel but I was all smiles.
QN; Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician.
My favorite part of being a musician is the ability to express myself, being able to create, the process of creativity is quite fascinating, and being a musician, many people listen to music and I have the ability to make some people’s days better, it’s something I really love.
My least favorite part about being a musician is the stereotype about the musicians. Everyone has their own perception, some will say musicians are associated with drugs, crime, and many more, but when you’re successful, everyone will want to be associated with you, so most times you even cut people off because you can’t tell some people’s intentions.
QN; If you were at gun point, which song would you sing?
ANS; I’d sing “Don’t Let Me Go.” It was one of my first deepest songs, still is, it meant so much to me, still does, and it’s just different anyway.
QN; What would you be doing if it wasn’t for your music career?
ANS; I think I’d be into business. I can still do business, I’m actually still going to venture into businesses, since music is not only a passion but also a business.
QN; How would you describe the music culture in Uganda?
ANS; The music culture in Uganda is kidandali. I don’t know if I’m getting this question right, but I feel that’s Uganda’s music culture, it’s literally in almost every track in Uganda, after it took over kandongo kamu which was the first. At this moment, there are so many genres in Uganda but Kindalali is like the main thing.
QN; How do you feel the internet has impacted the music business?
ANS; The internet has evolved the music business. The problem with most of the Ugandan artists is that they concentrated more on performing live and forget about selling their music online which would be earning many of them a good sum of money by now. But it’s now easier to grow a fan base online with proper marketing. The world is evolving, everything gets better or much difficult but we have to move forward and strive to survive anyway.
QN; If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
ANS; The stereotype in Ugandans about the music. I’ve seen many people who do not listen to Ugandan music, they may listen to it but they’d never download it on their phones. It’s always music from the established artists from other countries, why’s that? And then there’s the category that has every kind of Ugandan song but only Kindalali. Many artists in Uganda have been told “out some Luganda in your music is you want it to sell” and that’s stereotype that has made many artists not become original because they feel they won’t sell if they were. That is why the music in Uganda is somewhat the same to an extent, you’ll expect the same thing from most songs. But I’ve listened to so much music from the young creatives and I believe they can take over the international scene, though I believe the media in Uganda does not give them a chance, if they play their music, it’s countable, then it’s back to the same old artists we already know. Also, the artists need to work together, promoting each other is a better way to get exposure than competing and not collaborating. That’s why whenever I get a chance to share music by another artist, I do, maybe my fans will live his/her music and will become his/her fans too, it’s all about the growth, we all need it. Many Ugandans will actually spread awareness about a song that everyone already knows about especially from the big artists, and will not so the same for a fellow artist or Ugandan, without support, this industry will not go far.
QN; What is the best advice you have been given.
ANS; Never give up. And I also keep telling others, keep going, it’s hard but you have to keep going, don’t let nothing stop you. Plus also, pray, always out God first.
QN; Curate a playlist of your songs for a first time listener.
• Don’t Let Me Go
• You Like (feat. Dr. Gray)
• Freaky Friday (feat. Curtis)
• Want (feat. 8thWonder256 & Dr. Gray)
• She Don’t (feat. Curtis)
• High Thoughts
Stream Drillz’s music;
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/drillz/1507016490
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/drillztherapper? ref=clipboard
Connect with Drillz on socials;
MIRRORED BY FERRISTER MIREMBE
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