The Good Ones were recorded live without overdubs on Adrien’s hilltop farm.
We recorded The Good Ones’ third album at their leader Adrien’s hillside farm—the one that he and his children were born on, the place where he’d hid for months in the trees nearby to survive the genocide.
The members of The Good Ones manage without electricity and running water,
luxuries that have yet to reached their remote regions despite the nation’s advancement. And even if these utilities ever make it there physically, they might still remain out of the band members’ reach financially.
Looking down into Adrien’s wide and askew valley—one that is folded and hidden within other valleys beyond the paved roads—the lush and multihued forest is dizzying.
Starvation is not a gimmick. It is
a reality. And individuals facing such
challenges should not be denied a stage for discourse, tolerated only if they conform to superimposed Anglo standards of style, affect, and instrumentation.
Most artists in the West wane with age due to excess—drugs, ego, the objectification of others. But artists from less mechanized lands usually decline due to the opposite: lack. Of nutrition, healthcare, and adequate shelter.
Adrien’s is a voice not deliberately rasped through blunts and tequila shots, but life itself. As we parted, he handed me a sack of iron beans from his farm. Seeing the longing in his children’s eyes as they watched this transaction, my urge was to refuse. But it was clear that he was seeking nourishment other than food and that acceptance of this generosity was nonnegotiable.
We have played The Good Ones’ music for scads of expat Rwandans, and every response has been the same: “you can’t find music like this anymore.”