Profiling fallen Western Uganda based singer Amon Kaharata a.k.a Billy Kingz who breathed his last on Thursday 5th August, 2021 in Rukungiri.
Paul Ampurire, a Travel and Lifestyle writer, has followed the late Billy Kingz’s music journey from scratch. He talks to MBU about the fallen singer.
The closest that Rukungiri has been associated with music was probably when Abaasa released his album titled ‘Rukungiri’ back in October 2015.
In picking ‘Rukungiri’, he needed a title he “felt would get a lot more people to know where we’re from”, the drummer, producer and singer said back then.
I still feel the album was way ahead of its time. Its depth and production masterly didn’t get to enjoy the consciousness (for good music) plus the digital uptake that the industry enjoys today.
This hasn’t always been the case.
Read Also: INTERVIEW | One on One with Isabella Tugume
Once upon a time, that small town in the far Southwest had a homegrown music pulse. Thanks to a group of young boys that went by the name Vaba Team. The singing outfit was led by Amon Kaharata a.k.a Billy Kingz.
Amon passed on yesterday (Thursday 5th August, 2021) in Rukungiri. The cause of death is yet to be confirmed.
The news of his passing left me with nostalgia. In 2002, when Amon cut his teeth in music, it was hard to ignore him, even for little boys our age. Radio Rukungiri had just launched and his music was getting good rotation.
As a kid, I got to see him every once in a while since they had a hardware shop in town. Sometimes he waved at me.
In my head, this shaped how I, my brother and the other kids related with his music. The idea of hearing a song play on radio, by someone we encountered so often, endeared us to Amon the more.
Considering every other song playing on radio was by Kampala-based artistes, hearing a song recorded by a homeboy was quite the feeling. To put this period in context, that’s around the same time Jose Chameleone had released Mama Mia, his debut album. Uganda was still trying to find its new sound – Afro pop.
Vaba Team were the early birds in Rukungiri and they did ‘run the streets’ for a while. The dynamics back then didn’t make it as easy as it now is to breakthrough in the Kampala market.
I still recall some lines from the song that made Billy Kingz. Borrowing the emerging Afro Pop sound akin to Chameleone’s tracks and replicating the rhyming format that Red Banton had made his signature.
Born to one of Rukungiri’s prominent traders, Billy Kingz had been exposed to the Kampala culture when he attended school at Ntinda View College Kampala and Cardinal Nsubuga Memorial School Najjanankumbi before dropping out. Little wonder most of their songs were in Luganda.
Back home, Vaba Team held shows in town regularly. We would see their faces dotted on posters as we walked to school. The market for music was picking up, attracting other groups like Romax, a Mbarara-based band which had been formed by the popular Sister Charity and Rasta Chaz.
Being the homeboys, Vaba Team curtain raised when bands like Romax came to play in town.
Later on in 2013, his life would take a major turn and he would give his life to Christ, changing his stage name to “Amoniky di Xcriminal”.
In 2014, he recorded his first Christian album ‘Rukundo ya Yesu’ which came out in 2015. He would later become a Pastor at Christ Believers Temple, a worship house in Rukungiri.
His demise is sad. But I celebrate him for the inspiration and his pioneering spirit that gave our youngselves so much cheer.
Rest In Peace Billy!