Anastasia Tsioulcas writes at NPR Music for “Deceptive Cadence” (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence). Widely published as a writer on both classical and world music, she is the former North America editor for Gramophone Magazine and the classical music columnist for Billboard. She has also been an on-air contributor to many public radio programs, including WNYC’s Soundcheck, Minnesota Public Radio’s The Savvy Traveler, Public Radio International’s Weekend America, and the BBC’s The World.
What happens when an artist mixes the suavity of Congolese rumba, the sweat and funk of James Brown, lilting soukous guitar, the visual flair of the sapeurs and the sensibilities of 21st-century hip-hop? The charismatic Congolese-Belgian singer Baloji has one answer. As he sings in the tune "Karibu Ya Bintou (Welcome to Life in Limbo)," his collaboration with the band Konono No. 1, "I came to reinvent tradition."
While he's been quietly building a career in the U.S. over the past couple years, he was in prime shape at globalFEST 2014, backed by an amazing band whose members included the Congolese guitarist Dizzy Mandjeku, who collaborated with legends like Franco and Tabu Ley, and who is himself a treasured bandleader.
With his electrifying stage presence and style to spare, Baloji had the globalFEST crowd wrapped around his finger. He also had some pointed things to say about perspective — both about his own and the audience's — and not only in his lyrics. "This isn't world music," he said at one point between songs. "This is our music."
- "À L'Heure D'Été"
- "Mamy Wata"
- "I'm Going Home"
- "Secours Populaire"