Retro-forward: Baloji – ‘Independance’ revisited


In our transience, many of us come from one place but for some reason we live in another, some of us are forced to. Nevertheless, all of us will always carry our culture, our roots, wherever we go. At best we are mystics of both cultures, of origin and host, but many fall somewhere in between, feeling not fully natives nor strangers.

One such case is Baloji  (which means ‘Sorcerer’ in Swahili), a rapper born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Wallonia, Belgium. He found though the creative ways to turn his double (or split) identity into forms of music. Along the way, he understood that he has to come back to his home country.

In his ‘back to the roots’ musical stay in Congo he realized most importantly that it was a ‘back to the future’ experience – a step forward. He came with all his experiences from the European grounds to explore the musical traditions of his own home country. With his highly-praised sophomore album ‘Kinshasa Succursale’, the fruit of his stay there, he created something new, equally fresh as vintage.

Baloji managed to capture the vivacious ambiance of Congo’s capital as you can also see in this clip. ‘Le Jour D’ apres / Siku Ya Baadaye’ , the album’s opener, which is a remake of Joseph Kabasele’s ‘Independance Cha-Cha’, a 1960s Congolese classic.

There is a lot more to expect from artists who are merging their traditional music with modern sounds and techniques, the examples are plenty. What we have repeatedly expressed in every occasion is that “a trip to our roots is a way forward.”


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