AT JUST 18, while pursuing a music industry degree at Suny Oneonta in New York, United States, UK-based rap singer Denis Kanaka performed original music in front of thousands, sharing stages with several major Hip Hop artists like Big Sean, T-Pain, Asher Roth and Kid Ink.
He was, at the time, performing as ‘Darkecy’ and his main style was rapping and lyricism. He then took a hiatus from music for two years.
Upon his return to the scene, the 26-year-old singer realised that he is more into multi-instrumental live music and now, as ‘Kanaka’, he is exploring the possibility of mixing that with Hip Hop, his passion, and traditional music.
Kanaka’s talent in production and performance earned him big stages in a number of countries like Germany, USA, Canada and Rwanda and, as he makes a comeback, he is now looking to expand music further internationally starting from the United Kingdom, his current residence.
Teaming up with Mike Kayihura
The rapper recently released a five-song EP, “Room Past Curfew”, and it features the vocals of fast-rising singer Mike Kayihura, Kanaka’s long-time friend since his early days of high school.
“Mike and I have been friends for a long time. We made our first songs together back in high school and now we reunited after all these years to create a project. It started as us just jamming but at some point we realised that it needed to be released,” he revealed.
It’s Kanaka himself who produced all the songs comprising the EP as a singer who is entitled with a lot of talent in music. Music production is no exception.
“I also wanted to show the Rwandan music audience that a producer is capable of leading a project as we have seen with producers like Kaytranada, Daft Punk, Pharrell and more,” he said.
With the EP now available on all music platforms, Kanaka’s focused on releasing more music content on YouTube as time goes by.
Over the next few months and years, he said, “I would like to be able to perform live as a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and DJ. I don’t want to set any limits but that is it for a start.”
“I am currently producing solo projects as well as features by Rwandan and international musicians,” the rapper revealed.
The rapper is currently based in the UK as a Chevening scholar where he is pursuing a Masters of Arts in Global Media Industries at King’s College London, with which he hopes to use to support Rwandan art creators through his company ‘So&So’.
With these skills, Kanaka also wants to help players in the creative industry to understand how they can exploit untapped streams of income and how works can be repurposed and used in different forms of media.
“I hope to help them to have a better understanding of what it means to own rights of their work so as to equip artists with novel ways of earning income,” he said.
“There is still a lot for me to learn and research quite frankly but I believe I’ve got to help creators , for instance, to understand how much can be licensed and synchronized into moving images like movies, blogs, etc.,” he added.
Besides music, Kanaka has been exploring other interests in the creative circles over the years including photography, personal training and event organisation among others.