My name is Rouge and I am the rapper in the game who is pretty much about to take over the world”
Half South African, half Congolese, a whole lot of baddest rapper in the game, Rouge, is as bold and unforgiving as her name suggest. In a few short years she has garnered a legion of fans, collaborated with the likes of Reason, BigStar Johnson and Moozlie, featured on AKA’s all-female Baddest Remix and rapped over beats by some of SA’s most respected producers such as Tweezy, Ganja Beatz and last but not least performed at Cassper Nyovest’s #FillUpOrlandoStadium show in 2016. The most impressive part, however, is that she has managed to achieve all this buzz from only a few singles! How did she do it? Her track Sheba Ngwan says it best: “I am the product of persistence and execution”. So, we don’t know about you, but we sure can’t wait for Rouge’s debut album “New Era Sessions” to hit the shelves!
We chat to her about building her empire, becoming a boss and changing the hip hop game altogether
Words: Bianca Agenbag
The Wire: What are you up to right now?
Rouge: I’m actually working on my debut album. I haven’t released any mixtapes or EP’s, so it’s literally my first full project and it will hopefully be released by end of May, early June. I’m also working with quite a few brands such as Flying Fish, Levis, and Adidas and I have some upcoming collabs with Cosmo, Nasty C, and Kwesta. The goal is to push nationally and internationally!
That sounds amazing! So tell us a bit more about who Rouge is?
I would say just an all-around musician who is really trying to make my mark and be a representative for Africa in its entirety. I wouldn’t call myself a female rapper because I don’t base my rap on just gender, as I think I could really go both ways if I wanted to. I studied Drama at the University of Pretoria, so I also want to delve into drama and art.
Did your Congolese origins influence your music?
Very much so. Congolese art is very much musical in terms of different instruments and musical elements. One of the most important things when it comes to my sound is that there needs to be musicality, it can’t just be a beat and that’s it. I love using different instruments to create these amazing elements in my music. So I would say that comes from my Congolese side.
So being part Congolese, can you speak French?
Oui, je parle francais cool
Where did your interest in music start?
It actually started from a really young age! Music and art have always been a part of me but I only discovered my love for rap when I was 19. That’s why I decided to study drama because my plan was actually to do musical theatre. I wanted to do The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast and all those Broadway productions. So it’s just funny how when I found rap it took me on a totally different route.
When it comes to musical influences, are there certain people you aspire to or that inspires you?
Gosh, there are quite a few. I would have to say Lauren Ward. She’s a pinnacle for me in terms of her music and how she can tell a story through her projects (and win amazing awards for it). Also people like Logic and Chance The Rapper, I think the reason I really look up to them is seeing how their music catapulted into being the best in the game and now they are doing it as independent artists. That’s honestly a style that I’m trying to push, in terms of doing it by myself and not base it on gender. I want to be be somebody who can really take over the game. Basically just relying on my music to get me to where I need to be.
Are you getting respect from male rappers as well and not just the general public?
Yes, I’m lucky enough to say that all the male rappers I look up to in SA have all had nothing but good things to say about me. Everyone knows that I am about to be a giant in this game, it’s never been about them wanting to work with me because I’m a female artist, but because they know I can handle myself amongst males. It’s really awesome to have that mutual respect.
You’ve done some amazing collaborations, who would you like to collaborate with next?
It’s a long shot but one day I would LOVE to work with Logic. I’m already working with the wonderful Shekinah, who was on top of my list. I think she’s beyond talented.
Who makes you totally starstruck?
It’s funny but I don’t really get starstruck anymore. I’ve met all these people now and I’ve taught myself not to be distracted by the success of others. However, if I met Logic or Lauryn Hill I’ll definitely be starstruck. I probably wouldn’t even be able to speak!
You have been on quite a few TV shows, are there any other shows that you would like to make an appearance on?
I would like to be a judge on talent shows such as Idols and SA’s Got Talent. I would love to give my input and share my knowledge on how one can achieve your dreams. My main goal would be to become a judge on The Voice though because you actually get to work with the talent and help them to bring out the best in themselves.
If your life was a song or a movie, what would the title be?
There’s already a song out there that sums up my life right now! It’s called Stop this Train by John Mayer and it’s actually my favourite song in the world!
3 things you can’t live without?
Music, my phone, and orange juice.
Is there something that nobody knows about you (or is it your love for orange juice)?
Yeah, I think that’s one thing people don’t know about me, I am obsessed with orange juice. Even at the studio, I have to have orange juice!
You are already a very talented lady but any other talents you wish you had?
I wish I was an amazing athlete. I would have loved to be a sprinter!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being content with everything you have, and being content with who you are. No matter how much we have, it is human to always want more. So once I reach a place where I am content and I don’t want to change anything about myself – that will be “happiness” to me.
If you were to die and come back as a living person or a thing, what would it be?
I think I would want to come back as Beyoncé. Definitely Beyoncé.
What is your most treasured possession?
Most definitely my family and my dear boyfriend.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m loud and I talk a lot. I’m very bold!
What word or phrase do you overuse?
I say “like” like a lot and also “bru”.
What is your wildest fantasy?
It’s more like a dream than a crazy fantasy but I want to have the biggest management company in Africa. If you want to work with anybody in Africa you’d have to come to my company first.
When people poke me, physical poking, Facebook poking, don’t poke me! If you want my attention wave or something, don’t poke!
What’s next for Rouge?
2017 is about people finally getting to know who I am, not only music wise but also business wise. I’m talking about collaborating with a lot of brands and creating my own lines – letting people know what a boss I can be! My goal is to be the girl who changes things through music…