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

Weekend Musher Finds Dogs Keep Her Hanging On

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent, Maine, works as a reporter at the Bangor Daily News. Her passion outside of work is dog sledding. It's the latest installment in our hobby series "Alter Egos."
NPR

When Zero Doesn't Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger In Food

One in 10 packaged foods still contains trans fats, according to a new study. The problematic oils give foods a rich taste and texture and extend shelf life, but have been linked to heart disease.
NPR

Rep. Ryan Calls For 'Culture Of Inclusion' To Tackle Poverty

Congressman and former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan discusses his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.
NPR

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks Amazon's new batch of five series pilots, asking why none of them seem break the rules of TV quite enough to draw attention.

Leave a Comment

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