Baloji: Kinshasa Succursale (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Baloji: Congo Eza Ya Biso
Baloji: Kinshasa Succursale (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

Given how many producers, remixers and musicians are flocking to Kinshasa in search of Congolese musicians, it seems the former Belgian Congo is the new Jamaica.

No bad thing, some of the music coming out of there (as heard on the Congotronics and Konono No 1 albums, and the Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers sound clash) is quite something. And something different.

Then there is the home-coming traffic, like expat singer Baloji (whose name means sorcerer in Swahili). 

Although born in the Congo in '78, Baloji grew up in Belgium from age four and in his teens became part of the Starflam Collective who were big in Belgium.

Ironically, he quit the group in '04 and abandoned music until he won a poetry competition and a letter from his mother -- whom he hadn't seen in almost 20 years -- nudged him back into music.

In more recent years has made regular trips to his homeland, and he's back on the ground for this diverse, often viscerally exciting album where he teams up with Konono No. 1 (the Delta blues-meets-Francophone rap on Karibu Ya Bintou) and lets things roll out with three remixes.

There a ragged but right feel here where songs like the vibrant Congo Eza Ya Biso (with the joyous singing and ululations of La Choral de la Grace) and the relentlessly chipping guitar on A l'heure d'ete – Saison Seche (with Larousse Marciano) sound like they were thrown down fast to capture the urgency of the moment.

The brief and percussive Genese 89 pulls the pace back a little (as does the soulful treatment of Marvin Gaye's I'm Going Home with Detroit's Amp Fiddler singing the title hook), but the punchy Tout ceci ne vous rendra pas le Congo hits a midground between classic Manu Dibango and electrifying fusion.

Part angry hip-hop and part socio-political Kinshasa rock, this one deserves serious attention although for most it will fall – as did France's MC Solaar and Assassin – at the first hurdle. It is almost exclusively in French.

But listeners to world music are used to not understanding many lyrics so . . .

Check it out, if you fink you is 'ard enuff.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Niko Ne Zna: Niko Ne Zna EP (Monkey)

Niko Ne Zna: Niko Ne Zna EP (Monkey)

The interest in good time "gypsy" music continues after the success of the Benka Borodovsky Bordello Band (with whose style I had some problem). This outfit from Wellington -- sax,... > Read more

FEMI KUTI INTERVIEWED (2014): The exciting sound of dissent

FEMI KUTI INTERVIEWED (2014): The exciting sound of dissent

The call to Femi Kuti in Lagos – down a line which on rare occasions reaches something approaching functional – finds his country is in turmoil. Thee ministers in the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

JOHN COUSINS INTERVIEWED (1989): Taking time to explore time

JOHN COUSINS INTERVIEWED (1989): Taking time to explore time

We see time contracted so often in our lives -- soap operas telescoping weeks into minutes, sports events distiiled down to highlight packages -- that it is sometimes hard to accept the longer... > Read more

Youssou N'Dour: Dakar-Kingston (Universal)

Youssou N'Dour: Dakar-Kingston (Universal)

After decades of almost becoming the biggest star out of Africa and commanding a global audience (support from Peter Gabriel, the 7 Seconds single with Neneh Cherry, Mandela concerts and so on)... > Read more