Memories through Congolese music

The Congolese unique music genre must be familiar with many in the names Awilo Longomba, Aurlus Mabele, Koffi Olomide, JB M’Piana, Werrason, Extra Musica, Wenge Musica, Kanda Bongoman and Tshala Mwana among others.

The Congolese unique music genre must be familiar with many in the names Awilo Longomba, Aurlus Mabele, Koffi Olomide, JB M’Piana, Werrason, Extra Musica, Wenge Musica, Kanda Bongoman and Tshala Mwana among others.

The nice thrilling sound from Kanda Bongo man of 1970s and 1980s is remembered a lot. People miss the strong hits of Ndombolo, Soukous, and etcetera. Virtually, all of us were almost getting influenced by Congolese culture of wearing tight around the waist.

Ndombolo the fast soukous music currently dominating dance floors in central, eastern and western Africa is called soukous ndombolo, performed by those internationally Congolese stars.

The hip-swinging, body shaking dance to the fast pace of ndombolo has come under criticism amid charges that it is obscene.

There have been attempts to ban it in Mali, Cameroon and Kenya. However, an attempt to ban it from state radio and television in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2000 became more popular.

In February, 2005 Ndombolo music videos in the DR Congo were censored for indecency, and video clips by Koffi Olomide, JB M’Piana and Werrason were banned from the airwaves.

Catching East Africa

In 1970s, as political conditions in then Zaire, some groups made their way to Tanzania and Kenya.

By the mid-seventies, several Congolese groups were playing soukous at Kenyan night clubs sweeping East and Central Africa during the seventies. It was further popularized through recordings of bands such as Zaiko Langa Langa and Orchestra Shama Shama, influencing Kenyan musicians.

In the late 1970s, Virgin records got involved in a couple of projects in Nairobi that produced two acclaimed LPs.

One of the tracks from this album was the Swahili song Shauri Yako (literary meaning "it’s your problem), which became a hit in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

In the 1980s soukous became popular in London and Paris. A few more musicians left Kinshasa to work around central and east Africa before settling in either the UK or France.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Parisian studios were used by many soukous stars, and the music became heavily reliant on synthesizers and other electronic instruments.

Kanda Bongo Man, Paris-based artist, pioneered fast, short tracks suitable for play on dance floors everywhere, popularly known as Kwassa kwassa.

This music appealed to Africans and to new audiences as well. Artists like Diblo Dibala, Mbilia Bel, Yondo Sister, Loketo, Rigo Star, Madilu System, Soukous Stars and veterans like Pepe Kalle and Koffi Olomide followed suit.

Soon Paris became home to talented studio musicians who recorded for the African and Caribbean markets and filled out bands for occasional tours.

Soukous also known as Lingala or Congo, and previously as African rumba is a musical genre that originated in the two neighbouring countries of Belgian Congo and French Congo during the 1930s and early 1940s, and which has gained popularity throughout Africa.

Although the genre was initially known as rumba, it is specifically known as African rumba.

The styles of soukous also known as kwassa kwassa and ndombolo, are still popular.

People from the Congo have no term for their own music, although they do use muziki na biso (our music) in most occasions.

This Congolese music that has been spread the world was pioneered by artists like Stukas and Zaiko Langa Langa that had the most influential bands to emerge from their era.

Zaiko Langa Langa was an important starting ground for musicians like Pepe Feli, Bozi Boziana, Evoloko Jocker and Papa Wemba.

Another pop blended sound developed in the early 1970s, led by Bella Bella, Shama Shama and Lipua Lipua, while Kiamanguana Verckys promoted a rougher garage-like sound that launched the careers of Pepe Kalle and Kanda Bongo Man, among others.

But by the beginning of the 1990s, the Congolese popular music scene had declined terribly.

Many of the most popular musicians of the classic era had lost their edge or died, and President Mobutu’s regime continued to repress indigenous music, reinforcing Paris’ status as a centre for Congolese music.


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