The images and sounds of Europe and Africa clash in Congolese artist Baloji's new music video "Siku Ya Baadaye." His video reflects his sound, a blend of hip-hop lyrics with distinct African instrumentals, that has made fans of other hybrid genre musicians like Vampire Weekend and Beck. Calling himself "Afropean," the Congo-born and Belgium-raised artist is quickly becoming known for both his stylized music videos and his music, having recently gained some exposure on tour with Bjork.
The latest "Afropean" music videos from Congolese artist Baloji
by Aaron Kohn in Culture on 21 June 2010
Throughout "Siku Ya Baadaye" (which translates as "Independence Cha-Cha"), the sound of the Likembe—an electric finger piano that sounds a lot like an electric guitar—plays in the background. The music video, directed by "Spike and Jones," features Baloji dressed in the clothing of the Sapeurs, a group of Congolese who dress in European haute couture (see our post on the book documenting the phenomenon, Gentlemen of Bacongo). Sponsored by Belgian brands Atelier 11 and Le Fabuleux De Bruxelles, Baloji's own lyrics bridge the gap between the European fashion juxtaposed in the center of a small bar in Kinshasa. Baloji explains, "I don't feel totally Congolese and here, I don't particularly feel Belgian."
In January, Baloji released "Karibu Ya Bintou", the first music video for his latest album, "Kinshasa Succursale" (or Kinshasa Branch), also shot in the streets of Kinshasa, the second-largest city in Subsaharan Africa and capital of the Congo. The track is a collaboration with Konomo n1, a Congolese group formed in the 1960s that made the sounds of the Likembe known all over the world.
Karibu Ya Bintou was no small undertaking to film. Featuring the streets of Kinshasa, a city of 10,000,000 people, the video shows a group of men in skeleton outfits (an obvious reminder to Congo's brutal war) walking through rush hour traffic, even staging a real wrestling match with a packed live crowd in a street. For more, Baloji's latest photos and videos can be found on his website.