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Staff Benda Bilili get even better
Congolese music

Staff Benda Bilili get even better

It took a film, a CD and some non-stop touring to establish Staff Benda Bilili on the international scene. Now the Kinshasa street musicians are back with the refreshingly optimistic Bouger le Monde, an album fuelled by their globetrotting adventures.

Koffi Olomide, wizardry on stage and off
Congolese music

Koffi Olomide, wizardry on stage and off

Music, sex and politics: it’s an explosive cocktail, and just the stuff to feed the kind of controversy that Koffi Olomide is used to. Not only is he the target of anti-Kabila campaigners who apparently pirated his album Abracadabra by pre-empting its release, the Congolese star is also at the heart of a rape case currently appearing before the French courts. But did he really turn up for trial in the Paris suburbs last February as he claims to have done?

Jupiter, the Kinshasa sound
Congolese music

Jupiter, the Kinshasa sound

Thirty years of hassle have done nothing to wear down the convictions of Congolese musician Jupiter as he prepares to bring out Hotel Univers – an album that rings like a coming of age. Portrait of an artist.

Ray Lema & Jazz Sinfônica de São Paulo
African music

Ray Lema & Jazz Sinfônica de São Paulo

Ray Lema, the trailblazer of inventive music who’s lived in France since the early eighties, has just re-recorded thirteen of his tracks in Brazil with the Jazz Sinfônica de São Paulo led by João Mauricio Galindo. The result is a meticulous rereading of a rare and eminently plural work.

Franco
Congolese music

Franco

The prolific artist Franco, who died in 1989, is still a central figure in Congolese music. The compilation Guitar Hero pays tribute to the rumba giant with an unusual collection of songs remastered with debateable dexterity.

Maryse Ngalula, Paris through Congolese eyes
African music

Maryse Ngalula, Paris through Congolese eyes

The Congolese singer Maryse Ngalula, who has just won the Institut Français’ Visas pour la Création programme, took advantage of a 5-month residency in the French capital thanks to sponsorship from the Archimusic association run by saxophonist Jean-Rémy Guédon. By the end of her stay, the artist had put together a seven-track demo that displays an array of talent, including an agile, transparent voice, some sharp lyrics and a very personal style that swings between jazz and Congolese tradition.

Damon Albarn’s electro Congo
Afro electro

Damon Albarn’s electro Congo

Propel Africa into the future instead of rehashing the past: that’s the principle that Damon Alban has tried to develop with Kinshasa One Two, an album by the DRC Music collective, made up of Western producers and Congolese musicians. The intention is commendable and clearly sincere, but tends to get tangled in its own web.

Samba Mapangala
Album review

Samba Mapangala

Congolese singer Samba Mapangala built up a solid reputation in East Africa before moving to the USA.

Koffi Olomidé
Congolese music

Koffi Olomidé

When a high-profile Congolese singer decides to interpret a compatriot master musician, it suddenly becomes clear just how many old-style rumba lovers are still around, as shown by the remarkable commercial success of Koffi chante Tabu Ley.

Ray Lema’s take on globalisation
Interview

Ray Lema’s take on globalisation

With his new album, 99, Congolese pianist Ray Lema has moved away from the intimate world of solos and trios to get back with a band. On 99 (the figure used by French bureaucracy to denote people born outside France) he muses in music on the consequences of globalisation and French and African identity, and nurtures dreams of a better world defined by a tolerant cultural melting pot.
 

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