Imico Mibi Mu Rusengero—Yannick MYK’s debut album—is an animated foray into the drama and madness of mindless capitalistic endeavors, and it makes use of corrupt preachers and desperate church-goers to bring the point across. But that’s understating things. Considering that the album is self-produced and features Sogokuru as the only guest artist, this album is so impressively put together. It comes following a number of Eps and exciting projects. Ijoro was until now his magnum opus; it was—without sounding too pretentious—a collection of anthems for the cultural shift regarding the creative process that Phantom.R, Sogokuru and Yannick MYK are now pioneering. Then came his guest record ‘Njegera’ on Sogokuru’s album NCCSR. Yannick has managed to create a signature sound for himself, it is usually an iteration of determined trap beats, with witty samples and verses. But on Imico Mibi mu Rusengero, Yannick embraces a musical versatility that sees him experimenting with Afrobeat and Reggae in some of the tracks.

True to Yannick’s story-telling, the album is rich with Rwandan folklore references, urban dialectal wordplay and features the mystery-shrouded, badass character Mucoma. It plays over Afrobeat, Trap, and Reggae instrumentals that accompany Yannick’s hooks and raps. Raps that sometimes fire with trigger-pulling blitz and other times hover in sync with the varying moods and sonic textures.

It opens humorously with the narration of a ‘borrow and pay me back’ interaction between what are perhaps the most recognized animal characters in Rwandan fiction: the rabbit and the hyena(Bakama n’impyisi). Yannick lends to the characters an urban, refreshing voice which uses a familiar setting to portray the all too common and by all means modern scenario. The track ‘Bakame EP1’ communicates ideas of self-reliance and captures in vivid detail mucoma’s hustler mentality through Bakame.

Yannick’s ability to string stories together is indubitably unique. It’s interesting how plots sink and resurface, a boomerang effect that’s present on tracks like Munyana and Munyana mu Ijoro. The same is true for Nkunda Akavuyo and Nkunda Amahoro.

What’s interesting about this album is how versatile the production is. Yannick—who has until now been producing mostly trap beats—incorporates Afrobeat elements into his music and for the final track even journeys into the world or reggae. Which is fitting because the final track is call Nkunda Amahoro(I love Peace)

The album as a whole sheds light on the hullabaloo that can too often materialize in churches. That pastors by taking advantage of the congregation’s sensitivities and pains build a massive following and bank incredible profits. On Tony Mucoma—a track that is inspired the Scarface protagonist Tony Montana played by Al Pacino—Yannick speaks on this issue in fascinating detail.(“Pasiteri mu rusengero ashungera abana; icyacumi uza gutanga ni twe tugihekenya; fasha pasiteri, cash turazisoromana)

But it is on Nkunda Akavuyo, the fourth track on the album, that things come to a climax. The church becomes an ungodly place to say the least. The infamous mucoma character plays the role of the disorderly, absolutely lit figure who can’t help but carry this energy to church(“mu rusengero”). The church then metamorphs into not a place of spiritual learning but—forgive the expression—a place where all hell breaks loose. Sogokuru slides onto the beat, a mix of Afrobeat and trap with a suave and slick opener.(“Rocket man nka Kim Jong-un; Mpora ndi tayari, nkora nijoro”). Cryptic and clever, Sogokuru’s verse brings to the track a groovy vibe. You catch yourself dancing to the track; it’s almost inevitable.

The album launched on the beautifully redesigned Kigalicious Music platform. It adds onto a number of other projects that are streamable on the platform. It is now available on Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, and the Google Play Store. In an interview with Sogokuru, Yannick MYK and R. Phantom, Yannick’s only words during the entire conversation were “My biggest inspiration is Papa Wemba (R.I.P).”. His words didn’t make a lot of sense then—that Papa Wemba’s Rumba influenced Yannick’s trap beats was somewhat inconceivable—but listening to Imico Mibi mu Rusengero put things into persective. It isn’t exactly the sound but the energy, the originality, and the unique ability to bring stories of old into focus through an urban and relevant medium. Yannick MYK continues to defy expectation, musically and content wise. It’s hard to imagine what his next project will be. Until now his projects have been great in that they have captured today’s times through a retrospective lens but it almost feels like Yannick is detached from the content. We get a picture of what happens around him, never really what happens within. Imico Mibi mu Rusengero is different because we get a brief glimpse into what goes on within him.

To buy the album: