Thursday, July 14, 2011

What the Kids Are Listening to

Despite their taste for Brazilian soap operas and American action flicks, most Congolese continue to prefer music produced and sung by their own countrymen. With its distinctive Afro-Cuban roots, Congolese rumba, like Jamaican reggae, is immediately recognizable. You can pretty much tell if a song is Congolese within the first ten seconds or so, regardless of whether it was recorded 50 years ago or last week. That said, the Congolese music scene has come a long way from the days of Tabu Ley Rochereau, Mbilia Bel and Papa Wemba. Here is a sampling of the most popular musicians playing today.
The group Wenge Musica from 1987-88, with Werrason and JB Mpiana at the microphones. Photo Credit: Wikipedia. 
First up is Fally Ipupa, a Kinois born in 1977 whose breakout record Droit Chemin and collaboration with Kofi Olomide helped launch his career. His Chaise Electrique features Olivia, of 50 Cent fame. (Famous to some, I guess, though not to me.) It reflects a stronger American influence than is present in most Congolese music.

Ferre Gola is another 30-something composer/performer, who got his start with Wenge Maison Mere, the group started by Werrason in the late 1990s after Wenge Music broke up, and with whom he in turn broke in 2003.

JB Mpiana is a decade older, and a co-founder, with Werrason, of the 1990s group Wenge Musica. Here's one of his hits, Kipe Ya Yo.

Werrason is probably the most well-known Congolese musician outside of Congo today and Malewa one of his better known hits.

Koffi Olomide is one of the old guard, in the same generation as Mbilia Bel. But like a lot of older musicians, he's helped bring along younger talent. His collaboration with Cindy Le Coeur has recently gotten a lot of attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment