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I am always creating – Malcom Rue

Barriers. Malcom Rue says he had to learn Luganda to be able to penetrate the Ugandan audience. PHOTO /COURTESY

Spreading Word. If gospel music is your piece of cake, then Malcom Rue is a name you may want to watch out for. Having recently released his new album, Yellow Soul, the Ugandan-based Nigerian artiste is quickly becoming a force to reckon with as Esther Nantambi writes.

“Your music is in its own category and that is what it is supposed to be like,” Lady Bezzo, an award-winning radio and TV personality commented during a show on Spirit TV.

True to her words, Malcom Rue testifies to the ingenuity of his pieces on the Facebook page Untold Stories Uganda where he reveals in an interview that he cannot sit still.

“I am always creating. You cannot separate the creative person from his craft. I write every day. The creative process for me is founded on inspiration. Inspiration for me comes from everyday experience. Whatever you have around you as a writer or an artist can be a source of inspiration. It could be a life experience, joy, pain, emotion, or a movie. For me, my songs begin as poems. I constantly record poems, tunes, and thoughts on my phone. Inspiration is elusive; you do not force the process; everything falls in place with time.”

Time as he says has been a factor in the journey of the 33-year-old gospel artiste.

At 16, Malcom Rue was attending Christian Pentecostal Mission in Nigeria when he was introduced to American gospel artistes Kirk Franklin and later Lecrae Moore’s music. He soon noticed that unlike the gospel music he had known growing up, Kirk Franklin and Lecrae’s music was listened to beyond the confines of church. Hooked, he committed himself to create gospel music that could be enjoyed in church, but also at parties and other social gatherings.

Over time, this dream has seen him transition through a series of creative evolution; from singing solely in the western style to infusing Afrobeat, from soul to hip hop music, learning new local languages such as Luganda and doing different styles, including but not limited to Afrosoul, Afrojazz, Afro hip hop, and Urbanafro.

We had a chat with Malcom Rue and he tells us about his journey and experiences doing music in Uganda.

Who is Malcom Rue?

Malcolm Rue is a Ugandan-based Nigerian artiste, poet, producer and songwriter. My real name is Reuben Kingsley Malcolm Onyenaturuchi. I hail from Imo State, Nigeria.

Tell us about your journey into music?

In 2004, a family friend asked me to fill in on a slot that had fallen vacant in a church song performance they were preparing. After that performance, I got hooked and joined the choir.

In 2005, I progressed to writing songs for choirs, then in 2013, I went into music production mostly for other artistes, before starting my own career in 2015 with a song called The Way You Love Me featuring Judikay and Protek Illasheva. The song peaked at number six on gospel charts across Nigeria.

Why gospel music?

I do gospel music because the message affects lives in a positive way and the inspiration comes from God. I have a zeal to change lives one song at a time.

In terms of the genre of music, I am versatile depending on my inspiration; afrobeat, western music, hip hop, etc.  I owe it to my vast experience in music, having worked as a music director at church and with many artistes over the years.

How did you embark on a journey to start singing in Uganda?

Singing in Uganda has been awesome, although the first time I came here it was business related. Consequently, I met new friends and we decided to work on some music. Since then, I have been singing here in Uganda. I thank God for my brother JohnMarie, who is a Gospel artiste and producer.

What challenges have you faced in this industry?

The challenge I had at first was the genre of music. Most artistes here do dancehall while I did hip hop and western music. With time, I learnt to adapt and also leave my comfort zone to get a sound that both worlds can appreciate.

Another challenge was the language barrier. I had to learn Luganda and how to infuse it in my music. I am not yet perfect but still in the process.

What has been easy?

The easy thing about singing here in Uganda is that people actually appreciate good music. Irrespective of the language, they will still vibe to it.

How have you tried to appeal to local audiences?

Appealing to the local audience is always essential, and infusing Luganda and local Nigerian languages in my music, which some already know from Nigerian music and movies, helped me meet the local audience midway.

Where is your music now and where do you want it to be?

At the moment, I would say my music is progressing across Africa, UK and the US. The plan is to get the music and message across every part of the world, changing lives and giving them a new meaning.

What is your personal favourite song?

Hmmm… I would not say I have a personal favourite because I wrote them at different periods in my life. Each song shows where I was and how I felt at the moment, which makes each of them unique and special to me.

What song surprised you most; one which people loved and you did not see it coming?

Honestly, Yakpa surprised me the most. Its fame was so unexpected because it is the first song I did in Yoruba and it was written in 15 minutes. Yakpa has a catchy chorus and I realised people love to vibe to it.  This made it the first single I released early this year in preparation for the Yellow Soul album which I released at the end of June.

What music do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of genres, ranging from jazz to classical music, rap songs and RnB. It all depends on my mood. I also enjoy listening to music in different languages that I may not understand but I love their vibe.

Current job, aside from music?

I am an entrepreneur trading in importation and supply. That is my 9 to 5.

What is the first thing you do when you get to work?

I eat my breakfast. Lol. Most times I leave so early, so I carry my breakfast along. It helps me focus and prepare for the day.

What do you love most about your job?

It is my passion and also gives me room to grow, meet new people and express myself the best way I can.

Best childhood memory?

My best childhood memory will always be travelling home to my village every Christmas and meeting relatives I had not seen in a long time.

What do you like about doing music?

Doing music is my passion and it also gives me room to grow, meet new people and express myself the best way I can.

Most memorable experience in life?

Most memorable experience in life would be my first big event with my family in the audience. Seeing the joy in their faces as they watched me do what I love was remarkable.

And your biggest regret in life?

I do not think I have any regrets. I believe whatever happened is orchestrated by God; the good and the bad all work together for something better.

Best advice you have received?

The best advice I ever received was from my music director, Sower David back in 2009, “Fight for your dreams, you only have one life and you do not want to wake up a few years from now and wish you had chased them.”

Your education background?

I have a degree in Physics from Michael Okpara Federal University in Nigeria. I graduated with a second class upper. I also studied sound engineering.

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