Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The New Afro Belgian Generation: Three Belgian Artists of Congolese descent


Dr. Kwest. My Beat, My Life, My Congo EP (2010)

Today the RD of Congo celebrates its 50 years of independence. Many wonder if there is anything to celebrate at all. I won’t go deeper into that argument, we all know how difficult the last 5 centuries have been for Africa. It seems that the colonial, industrial, technological and economical successes of Europe and the West were all at a cost, fully paid by the black people of this planet.

But I'd rather draw the attention to something interesting that came out of this tragical history: a new generation of Belgian artists of Congolese descent creating refreshing music with roots in hip hop, electro and Africa.

Below I will tell you more about three fresh AfroBelgian producers and musicians: Baloji, Dr. Kwest and Esa Biyo



Baloji

The most famous one is Baloji, former rapper in the Belgian Hip Hop group Starflam. He came to live in Belgium as a 3 year old and grew up here. He says he is actually more European than African, a thing he realized when he traveled back to his motherland last year. Starflam was succesful in Belgium and France with tracks such as ‘Ce Plat Pays’ and ‘Amnesie International ‘ (feat. Zap Mama). But Baloji reached maturity with his second solo album (Kinshasa Succursale) released this year. He is now touring all over Europe with his Congolese band. He mixes hip hop and poetry with original African and Congolese sounds, always keeping in mind a deeper message to his music. Below I post a video of his latest single ‘Karibu ya Bintou’. This track features Konono nr. 1, a grouped based in Kinshasa that combines the traditional Likembe with electronics. You can find more on youtube on Konono nr. 1 and Baloji.



Dr. Kwest

Another artist you have to keep an eye on is mystery figure Dr. Kwest. Just like Baloji Dr. Kwest is of Congolese origin although he was raised in Belgium. Today Dr. Kwest is based in Brussels and mixes eclectic electronic hip hop soul with anything that fits with it. Dr. Kwest is a musical innovator who spoils his fans with regular mixes on mixcloud and produces instrumental music which is hard to define (I’ll give it a try with electronic soul noise hop …).

Especially for this 50 year of independence Dr. Kwest delivers an EP (My Beat, My Life, My Congo - 2010) with eccentric tracks that express very well the bitter aftertaste of this celebration while keeping in touch with the Congolese sound. I recommend you all to check this out on this link. You can also find mixes and productions by Dr. Kwest on mixcloud.com.

Esa Biyo

Last but not least I want to present you another AfroBelgian producer of Congolese origin: Esa Biyo. This producer opted for a mix of old skool Congolese rumba tracks and dub. Slowing down the Congolese Rumba Esa Biyo created a sad version of the famous rumba tracks produced in the 60’s and 70’s by famous artist like Rochereau, Franco & OK jazz, Mbelia Bel, … below I post a video for one of his latest productions, featuring footage from a documentary of the then Zaïre national footbalteam in the 70’s.



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