30 May 2023

Meet Rayo, the rising artist bringing the heart of Congo to the world

HUNGER catches up with the talent following the release of his latest single, ‘Aliyah.’

Moise Kpete, better known by his captivating stage persona Rayo, has emerged as a prominent figure in the music industry, cultivating a following with his innovative musical prowess. Hailing from the culturally rich lands of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rayo has crafted an unmistakable style that harmoniously marries traditional Congolese rhythms with a contemporary sonic tapestry. Beyond mere entertainment, Rayo’s music transcends boundaries, serving as a profound cultural experience that fervently conveys the soul of Congo to the world’s farthest reaches.

Born in the vibrant city of Goma in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rayo was raised in a musical environment that shaped his artistic journey. Surrounded by the incredible influence of his mother, Rayo’s songs inevitably revolve around the essence of women. Having been blessed with immense love during his formative years, he exudes that affection through his heartfelt compositions. Through the power of his voice, he has the ability to touch hearts in both moments of sorrow and elation through his melodious creations.

In 2015, Rayo’s life took a fortunate turn when he joined Nation Rouge, a rap group formed during his college years. However, as time passed, each member of the group was called by fate to pursue individual paths. Rayo, however, remained steadfast in his pursuit of a music career. Fortunately, destiny would bring him back together with one of his former group members, who would become his manager. This reunion sparked a renewed sense of purpose, propelling Rayo to dedicate himself entirely to his craft, delving into the realms of songwriting and singing. During this period, he refrained from rushing any musical releases, choosing instead to refine his artistry.

Towards the end of 2022, a significant turning point in Rayo’s journey arrived when he inked a contract with KSound, a renowned production and talent management company based in his beloved hometown. The culmination of this partnership is none other than his latest single, ‘Aliyah,’ an enchanting composition that seamlessly combines Rayo’s commanding and ethereal vocals with lyrics that evoke deep affection. 

Rayo’s ascent in the music industry showcases not only his innate talent but also his unwavering commitment to his art. With each release, Rayo reinforces his position as a compelling artist who leaves an indelible imprint on the hearts and souls of those who listen. In the wake of his latest single release, HUNGER had the opportunity to delve into the world of Rayo, exploring his musical journey and his unmatched love of Congolese culture.

As a rising star in the music world, can you take us on your journey into music? Was music always the path you wanted to pursue, or did you discover your passion for it along the way?

I started singing when I was young, in church. I was born into a family where music was present – my grandma and mother could sing. I got this love and passion for music from them. This is why I choose to do music. I started professionally in 2019; I was part of a boy band with two other guys. My first solo single was in 2019, and the title was ‘Mwambiye’. Since then, I’ve been performing on shows, writing music, and recently, I got signed to K-Sound. ‘Aliyah’ is my first song on the label. 

Before you consciously decided to pursue music, who were some of the artists that influenced you and kept you inspired?

My favourite artist is James Arthur, but my favourite French artists would be Ya Levis and Hero. Meeting Ya Levis was a big deal for me, and when he listened to my music, complimenting how good my sound was, it made me believe in myself and that I could really do music. It was a push for me to start professionally. Fally Ipupa, too, is an icon in my country, and his music is a part of all of us. He has successfully promoted our style of music (rumba). Fally has been there since I was little and even till now. He has been a big inspiration.

Speaking of collaborating with other artists, which musicians are at the top of your list to work with in the future?

The first would be Hiro. I remember listening to him when I was ten, and I still listen to him up to this moment. He is a legend in love music, which is similar to what I do now. Also, I would love to work with Fally Ipupa. 

Your latest single, ‘Aliyah,’ is enjoying great commercial success right now. How does it feel to see your music connect with audiences and gain traction in the industry?

I am so proud of myself, and it makes me believe that I can actually do this. It has also made me believe in myself more and pushed me to do better next time.

Your music incorporates a range of genres, including afrobeats, rumba, and soukous, but you remain proud of your roots in Congo. How do you fuse these sounds together and make them your own?

Well, there are many styles of music, and my goal is to be original and to keep our culture up. I am a lover of Afrobeats. I want to experiment with a mix of afrobeats and our rumba, soukous, and all these sounds and create something from it.

Can you give us some insight into the music scene in Congo and what it’s like for artists working there?

The music industry in the Congo is not easy. Some people think Congolese music is the basis of African music; this puts a lot of eyes on us. People feel we should be able to do better, and honestly, it is challenging. Your music can be loved today, and another person will do better tomorrow. Keeping the love is a challenge.

If you could change one thing about the Congolese music scene, what would it be?

Simply, bigger artists need to support more upcoming ones. We can see the support younger artists get from the older ones in places like Nigeria; this has helped the growth of Nigerian music. We hope more big artists in Congo can do the same for us. My watchword has always been, “I rise, we rise”. If I rise, I should be able to help others grow too.

With your emergence on the music scene, how do you plan to put Congolese music on the map and raise its profile globally?

First, I want to make good music that can be listened to everywhere, you know, I call it “music without borders.” People from anywhere in the world can listen, connect and feel emotions without giving thought to where it is coming from. When you get to that level, you can change anything; that is my goal.

Looking ahead, what can fans expect next from Rayo, and where do you see your music career taking you in the future?

I said earlier that I wanted to do something better every time. We are currently working on the next project; it’ll be amazing and will definitely do better than ‘Aliyah’. We also have more singles on the way and, at the end of the year, an EP.

  • Writer Robert Solomon
  • Image Credits Kevin Chirimwami

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