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Main man L Rice: Music is engraved in me


L Rice Limungu Matadien, a Kinsasha-based singer, music producer, video director, businessman and mentor speaks about the inspiration behind his music and why he has chosen Kenya to launch his latest album this December:

Unlike most famous Congolese musicians known to launch their albums in Europe or Kinshasa, you have chosen Kenya as your ideal destination. What prompted you to take that route?

Apart from being a hotspot for entertainment in Africa, Nairobi in particular, remains one of my favourite destinations owing to its rich culture, friendly and welcoming nature of Kenyans towards foreigners. Their undying love and soft spot for Congolese music is evident. Most local radio stations are known to accord immense airplay to Congolese Rumba and Lingala music, not to mention organising theme nights. The Kenyan style of music – which is similar to Congolese cavacha makes me feel at home.

Is this your first visit to the country?

Yes. I came on a brief visit upon invitation by my Kenyan promoters Melamani Promotions and Club Meladen. My mission was to check out the condition of venues for my album launch scheduled for December and to equally advice on type of sound required among other things. I must say for the few days I was in Kenya, I would never turn down an invitation to stage shows even after my album launch.


In the past, Congolese musicians experienced turbulent times in Kenya courtesy of con promoters that saw a number of them quit the local scene. Today, the tide has somehow turned for the better with a number of renowned Congolese artists gracing the local music scene for performances - but not album launch.

Have you encountered situations where deals go wrong?

Like any other business, music has its ups and down with promoters breaching contracts. During the initial stages of my career, I fell victim to some of these con promoters – today, I always know what to do before I sign a contract, having learnt the hard way. Majority of the shows I have graced have gone perfectly as planned.

Let us in on your new album?

It’s titled Paradoxe a French word for Paradox. It’s a six-track album and is recorded and shot in Dubai, Kinshasa, Tanzania and Paris by internationally renowned music and video producers. Upon its release, it became an instant hit in Kinshasa, Europe and various countries across Africa. 

What should Kenyans expect during your album launch?

Dubbed African Music Extravaganza, my fans should brace themselves for an explosive show in Nairobi’s Meladen Club, Upperhill, on December 7 and Tom Mboya Labour College Kisumu on December 14. There will be performances by East Africa’s finest, Saida Karoli and Kenya’s Ohangla sensation Musa Jakadalla among others. Revellers will not only be entertained but they will have an opportunity to sit back and enjoy the best of music from three great African talent during the event led by emcees Fred Obachi Machoka, Mama Afrika and Iddi Achieng.

What drives you?

My success emanates from my total discipline both in and out stage. I do a lot of planning and preparations before I step on stage with my band members, I always want to give my fans more than they deserve.

What inspires your music?

I am inspired by daily happenings in my life. I piled these and put them in form of flowing poetry. I have no other way than to put them into music.

What makes you different from the rest?

Having been in the profession for more than a decade my efficiency, skill and dedication to what I do has enabled me stay consistent despite the changing music trends not to mention the huge number of musicians in the industry.

How was your musical journey into fame?

It wasn’t easy. I endured a few years of performing on the streets of Kinshasa before I finally got my breakthrough. This was after Congolese singer and songwriter Werrason spotted me and invited me to join his Maison Mere band as a lead vocalist and composer. During the time, we toured Europe and Africa. After eight years, I decided to quit and joined recording artist Ferré Gola for another four years before I formed my own band. My immense contribution in Werrason’s ‘Maison Mere’ and Ferré Gola’s ‘Boîte Noire’ albums saw both artists nominated in the Best Male category (Central Africa) during the 2016 and 2017 Afrimma awards. I needed to move on.

Has music always been a great part of your life?

Yes, music has been engraved in me ever since I was a boy through my father’s love for music which revolved around playing guitar. When he visited various record labels, I accompanied him. With time, I decided to venture into music even while studying Veterinary Medicine at the University of Lubumbashi.

Was it hard juggling music and school?

Initially, it was tough but, with time, I was able to cope. I love music but I realised education was important as well.

What was your parents’ reaction when you ventured into music?

They were and have been very supportive. They understand that my talent lies in music. I value my parents a great deal. They are my advisers, especially during hard and trying situations.

Are you in a relationship or have any kids considering the nature of your job where people tend to think that it is hard for you to settle down?

I don’t wish to take about my private life. I prefer it to keep it private.

Given your charming looks and sense of fashion, you must have many female admirers, how do you handle them?

Well, I try to be nice to them because they are my fans who make me who I am. But at the end of it all, I draw a line between my private life and work.

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