Baloji: Finding A Home In His Music | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Baloji: Finding A Home In His Music

Play associated audio

Rapper Baloji was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but raised in Belgium. He's built a reputation for incorporating Congolese music into his mix, though he mostly raps in French, his deep voice full of cocky brashness. You can catch his vibe without translation, but it's worth reading the liner notes to get his messages, as well. Baloji raps with brazen ease about the indignities of life as an African in Belgium, but also the tragic, bloody history of his homeland on his second album, Kinshasa Succursale.

Unlike legions of his rapping contemporaries, Baloji steers clear of familiar beats; he grew up on American rap but later turned to the rich dance grooves of Congolese music. The album's opening track, "Le Jour d'Après/Siku Ya Baadaye (Indépendance Cha-Cha)," revisits a 1960 Congo classic celebrating the country's independence. His edgy rap asks why none of the promises of that era ever came true.

Baloji recorded parts of Kinshasa Succursale in Kinshasa — no easy task, given that city's chaotic state. He evokes that chaos in the standout track "Karibu Ya Bintou," which features the distorted thumb pianos of the band Konono No. 1.

Baloji is a profoundly uncomfortable artist. He says he feels like a stranger both in Belgium and in Congo, but that existential bind seems to inspire him as he taps powerful music from both worlds to create a landscape of his own — perhaps the only place he really feels at home.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Author Asks Why WWI Genocide Still Splits Turks And Armenians

As a child, Armenian-American writer Meline Toumani was taught to see Turks as a bitter enemy. She wrote her new book, There Was and There Was Not, in an effort to understand that conflict.
NPR

Nutmeg Spice Has A Secret Story That Isn't So Nice

Nutmeg is a feel-good holiday spice. But it once caused serious bloodshed and may have even been a reason the Dutch were willing to part with Manhattan in the 1600s.
WAMU 88.5

Special Prosecutors Should Handle Civilian Shootings By Police, Holmes Norton Says

Norton says mayors and governors could stem anger over civilian shootings by police by appointing special prosecutors to handle them.
NPR

Doubts Persist On U.S. Claims Of North Korean Role In Sony Hack

One cybersecurity expert says there's no smoking gun to prove Pyongyang was behind the attack and that the FBI's evidence is circumstantial at best.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.