Author Topic: GLOBALIZATION OF CONGOLESE MUSIC: WHO SHOULD GET CREDIT?  (Read 4039 times)

Congomusiclover001 on: April 04, 2018, 18:10

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Be it Conge Brazza or Congo Kinsasha, Congolese music has transcended through many levels and is now part of world music. I remember living in Niamey, Niger in 80-85 and from listening to the international radio station Africa Numero 1, I came to know music from artists like Kanda Bongo Man (JT), Pierre Moutuouari (Missenge) and Zaiko Langa Langa ( Live au Japon), Aurlus Mabele Rosine. The genre generally called soukous then conquered West Africa and eventually most of Africa. By the late 80s, I knew The Papa Wembas and the Koffi Olomides. For Non Congolese folks on this board, I'm sure they can remember probably the same artists as well. But all this is not complete without mentioning Awilo Longomba. He was the true conqueror of the world. People like Ferre and Werrason would not have played in Nigeria if it wasn't for Awilo who brought Congolese music/Soukous to Anglophone Africa.


Any other honorable mention? Who did you listen to growing up in your part of Africa? 

faithandwar #1 on: April 04, 2018, 18:24

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Be it Conge Brazza or Congo Kinsasha, Congolese music has transcended through many levels and is now part of world music. I remember living in Niamey, Niger in 80-85 and from listening to the international radio station Africa Numero 1, I came to know music from artists like Kanda Bongo Man (JT), Pierre Moutuouari (Missenge) and Zaiko Langa Langa ( Live au Japon), Aurlus Mabele Rosine. The genre generally called soukous then conquered West Africa and eventually most of Africa. By the late 80s, I knew The Papa Wembas and the Koffi Olomides. For Non Congolese folks on this board, I'm sure they can remember probably the same artists as well. But all this is not complete without mentioning Awilo Longomba. He was the true conqueror of the world. People like Ferre and Werrason would not have played in Nigeria if it wasn't for Awilo who brought Congolese music/Soukous to Anglophone Africa.


I'm a bit on the fence about the the bolded statement, but almost every Nigerian I know has that Mondongo album. Those artist's you mentioned like Koffi and Wemba already broke through those Anglophone countries before Awilo didn't they?   

BrazzaBoy #2 on: April 05, 2018, 00:49

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I have to agree with the bolded statement. When I moved to America it was amazing to see how our  anglophone brothers (Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon) looked at Awilo. Being born and raised in Paris I knew almost nothing about the guy. But our brethrens looked like he was part of the quare magique (QL, Viva-noted that he was a former viva, BCBG & WMMM) or even beyond. So yes Awilo might not be big on the francophone side but he’s huuuuge on the anglophone side. Not even sure why. Same for Kanda Bongo. Never heard a song from him my whole time growing up in paris and i cant tell you how many funerals/ weddings ive been to in paris, but I can tell he’s big in London and maybe even anglophone africa.



As far as who pushed the culture to the forefront, I seen Koffi Olomide on TF1 and M6 which is the equivalent of your local Fox or Abc channel, so i’d have to go for him. Loi can probably be heard at somalian and arabian parties if we look hard enough lol
Papa Wemba tried very hard to push it globally and was respected as such as well so I’d have to go with him as well. He had interviews with CNN and thats not a small task.

Wenge1995 #3 on: April 05, 2018, 05:41

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Obviously, Awilo deserves credit. He adopted the 3 to 4 minute song length European and Americam program directors prefer from artist while maintaining the heart of popular trends of Congolese music in his albums.

As far as Kanda Bongo goes, I agree with you there...I have no idea who is a huge fan of his. I never grew up listening to him. Didn't even realize he was a real person until my geography teacher asked me about him, and he's a white American ????

If I want to introduce a friend to congolese music, Awilo is always on that playlist.

faithandwar #4 on: April 05, 2018, 07:16

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This is my first time hearing about Kanda Bongo, never heard of him.

As far as Awilo, I've always heard "Karolina" but I didn't know who he was until a friend from middle school asked me if I knew him. Despite living here in the US, for me Congolese music was always funneled through France. So that's why I didn't see him as big as Wemba/Koffi/Werra/JB. But also I would always equate the big four as African stars rather than national ones. Especially Wemba and Koffi being more international.   


But also for the Globalization question, what can be said about OK JAZZ, Afrisa International and Zaiko? There's also that documentary coming up....

mvulusi96 #5 on: April 05, 2018, 07:37

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Grad Kalle, Dr Nico, Tabu Ley,Franco Luambo Makiadi & Abeti Masikini had already done everything in 50's, 60's and  70's. By filling stadiums in Africa and touring in Europe, USA & Canada. Abeti Masikini performed in 1974 at the mythical Carnegie Hall in New York. In 1973 she performed at Olympia and went back for two days in 1975. She was the first African artist to perform at Zentih in 1988. There were projects to perform at Bercy around 1993-94, but she was to sick and passed away in 1988. Tabu Ley performed in 1970 as first African artist in Olympia giving 34 shows in 16 days, all soldout. Then you got that generation based in Paris who were doing soukous-music (Kanda Bingo Man, Diblo Dibala, Aurlus Mabele, etc.), but they weren't considered in DR Congo and Congo Brazzaville. But despite that they were performing in stadiums who were sold out and setting records (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Togo, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, etc.). The succes of was so big that they even went for shows in the West Indies (Caraibes). The only in Zaire-based artitsts who performed there were Zaiko (in 1986) and Pepe Kalle. The same Zaiko was the first band to perform in Japan.

Awilo Longomba is till this day the only artist to have performed in a sold out National Stadium of Lagos (Nigeria) and that was 3 days in a row. I don't know if someone will break that record. I wonder why there was never released an official VHS about that event. The succes of Coupe Bibamba was vegen huge. He performing only in stadiums in Africa (including Angolphone west-African countries Liberia, Gambia & Siërra Leone). I remember that if there was an Soukous Or Congolese artist who wanted to perform in the stadium of Cotounou (Benin), they had to invite Awilo to fill that stadium (like Aurlus Mabele in the past). Only Koffi Olomide, Extra Musica & Defao were able to fill that stadium without to invite Awilo.

Koffi Olomide made it easy for artists to perform at Olympia, Zenith de Paris & Bercy. Because before that, it was diffcult to get a contract to perform there. You had then to have a special status or a big manager.

Papa Wemba brought our music to Japan (he performed there many times 1986-1993)  and to the white audience. So sad that he didn't continue on that way after Emotion. He could have been a bigger legend than Youssou N'dour. Imagine that Youssou N'Dour said that he wanted to be like Papa Wemba, before he started his international carreer. So sad. All because the people around him who were didn't want to lose him and himself being scared seeing the Congolese music-scène being dominanted by Wenge Musica and Koffi Olomide. With him making an comeback with Foridoles & Pole Position and settling with the Nouvelle Ecriture-album. I remember Francis Kakonde asking him "why coming from a high level of Emotion and sincking very low to Kaokokokorobo" with Wemba feeling uncomfortable.


« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 07:39 by mvulusi96 »

faithandwar #6 on: April 05, 2018, 20:54

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Papa Wemba brought our music to Japan (he performed there many times 1986-1993)  and to the white audience. So sad that he didn't continue on that way after Emotion. He could have been a bigger legend than Youssou N'dour. Imagine that Youssou N'Dour said that he wanted to be like Papa Wemba, before he started his international carreer. So sad. All because the people around him who were didn't want to lose him and himself being scared seeing the Congolese music-scène being dominanted by Wenge Musica and Koffi Olomide. With him making an comeback with Foridoles & Pole Position and settling with the Nouvelle Ecriture-album. I remember Francis Kakonde asking him "why coming from a high level of Emotion and sincking very low to Kaokokokorobo" with Wemba feeling uncomfortable.




The phenomenon is interesting in itself, Wemba dealing with World Music v.s deep Congolese music. It's kind of like if a deep R&B musician wanted to go Pop in order to sell more records but then they don't want to abandon their true fan base, so instead they revert back.I think that's what Fally is doing with his upcoming rumba album, but i'm pretty sure he's going to find a way to do both. It's like Papa Wemba's world music/Emotion was made digestible for white ears, which I don't get.... but at the same time I do.   

 I think  you and BrazzaBoy had a discussion awhile ago about Wemba's discography not being strong pre 1994 and that his World Albums were not reaching Kin at the time.

Aside from time format and self sabotage...why can't Congolese musicians do their music at it's purest form without diluting it to please white ears? Kaokokokorobo is a rich song, it's not any lower than any song on Emotion. But also that's my opinion. 
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 20:56 by faithandwar »

mvulusi96 #7 on: April 05, 2018, 21:43

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I don't remember anymore what I exactly said. But Yes his discography wasn't really strong from 1982, when Emeneya and co created Victoria Eleison. He was letting Viva La Musica doing his their with himself focusing and thinking how he could concur the world. Because his dream was to be one day a big legend like Bob Marley. Viva La Musica had difficult times in Kinshasa with their rivals Victoria Eleison dominating the two Congo. Lidjo Kwempa and Maray Maray tried to figth them with their single. But Victoria was to strong from 1982 until 1988. Papa Wemba was sometimes releasing sibgle's like Petite Gina, Eliana, Rendre a Cesar, Mfonoyami, but it wasn't engough.
Papa Wemba decided settle Viva La Musica in Paris in 1986/87, which made people say that run he run away, because of Victoria's succes. From 1988 Reddy & Stino, who were in the beginning in the shadow  of Lidjo, Maray Maray and Luciana, started to get fame by releasing solo EP's and singing on Modogo Gianfranco Ferre's albums. Their succes in Paris brought the succes back, which they ones lost. But people said than that Papa Wemba had to stop with his career. Because in their opinion Papa Wemba was "ko-diembela" profiting of their succes. Then you got the split of Viva La Musica in 1992, which made people doubt more about Papa Wemba. Reddy's album Injustice saved him. All this made him record his  solo album  Foridoles in 1993, to make a comeback after singing years on his musicians and sappeurs solo albums and being focused on his worldmusic-carreer (1986-1994). Foridoles was released in the summer of 1994 and brought the succes back which he lost. After Mwalimu in 2000 he wanted to restart in worldmusic career. But he was a little bit doubting about the way the Congolese public would receive his albums. So he was mixing it with Rumba/Ndombolo. Bakala Dia Kuba & Kaka Yo (which was Bravo l'Artiste in the beginning) are examples. 50% of the songs which were on Maitre d'Ecole were songs who had to be on Norte Pere (world music-version), but Papa Wemba was scared to release that album back in 2011/12, because of the combattans-phenomon. Thinking that the combattans would disturb his shows distinated his white public. Which made him add all those songs to his rumba-album Maître d'Ecole, after waiting years to release that album.

Congolese people want to so see their music being consumated like Reagge, Rock, R&B & Hip Hop. Wanting to see their music everywhere on the world and being accepted. Seeing White & black folks in their concerts in Europe. That's why they always keep saying "kobima na ghetto".
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 21:45 by mvulusi96 »

faithandwar #8 on: April 05, 2018, 23:31

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Thanks for the well informed response, I appreciate it. Papa Wemba might have not reached the notoriety of Bob Marley, but he's definitely respected as world class musician. American news outlets covered his death, so he was close. The world was definitely in mourning when we lost him.   

But back to the question on Congolese people wanting to see their music consummated like Hip Hop and Rock, why is it so hard for it to be that way? That's why I don't get how Emotion can be well received as a world album but if Wemba wanted to promote an album like Nouvelle Ecriture to white and black people it would be difficult. Or considered  "low" like that journalist you mentioned said of it. That would be backwards to dilute the music into something else because then it's not really Congolese music anymore, it's just World Music. It kind of defeats the purpose of being widely consummated as a genre.   


Zaiko #9 on: April 06, 2018, 20:57

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I think this question can be answered a number of ways because each of the artists that have made headway into overseas markets have done it a little differently in the more recent years. I can't really comment on the pre 90s artists. Some have retained a pure congolese sound while many have commercialized their sound to achieve that success. The only one that I can think of that was able to do both is Awilo Logomba. For example, I believe that much of the success that Papa Wemba has had wasn't through a pure congolese sound. On the flip side Extra Musica and Koffi gained some success with a more authentic sound. Today I guess Fally deserves some credit though the sound he brings is a little commercialized as well.

Congomusiclover001 #10 on: April 07, 2018, 17:51

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While I agree that the likes of Papa Wemba, Franco, Tabu Ley, and koffi had previously introduced the word to congolese music in the 60s and 70s, I think the next generation took it to the next level and explosive albums like LOI, Pentagone, General Defao's Copinage, and Fula Ngenge (or even show me the way) took this music outside of the two Congos borders. Etat Major of Extra is certainly on the list of songs heard all around the world and most likely introduced Congo Brazza to the world. I think it's something to be proud of.

Nigeria has the Sunny Ades, Oliver De Coqa and Victor Uwaifos in abundance and are all popular in their own rights but none of them is as popular as any Congolese musicians who have toured Africa and the world.

Now with the coming of Afro Beat Nigeria and most Anglophone countries' musicians have dethroned Cote D'ivoire's Coupe Decale which came in after the Soukous Era.