The Spin: Nairobi's Hit Is Daddy Owen's 'Kupe De Kalle'

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Daddy Owen

Daddy Owen, in the music video for "Kupe De Kalle (Tobina)." Ogopa Video hide caption

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Summer deserves its own soundtrack — for the beach, for warm nights and for the road. But don't worry if your travel budget is tight: This summer, All Things Considered and NPR Music are taking you on a global journey through music. We're checking in with DJs, musicians and writers for the songs that define summer in some of the world's most vibrant cities. We're calling it The Spin.

The final stop on this summer's leg of The Spin is in Africa, in one of the continent's most vibrant cities: Nairobi, Kenya. MTV Africa host Emukule Ekirapa, also known as VJ Kule, submits a pick from the Democratic Republic of the Congo: It's called "Kupe de Kalle (Tobina)," by the artist Daddy Owen.

The song is an example of a type of dance music known as Lingala. But in speaking with All Things Considered host Michele Norris, Kule says that Daddy Owen is actually a gospel artist, and that this is actually a praise song.

" 'Tobina' means 'to dance,' " he says. "But if you ask anybody in the street what 'Tobina' means, 99.9 percent of people have no idea what 'Tobina' means. But we just know: It makes us move, and it makes us dance."

According to Kule, "Kupe de Kalle (Tobina)" is the sort of song you'd find men dancing to in a nightclub "at 3 in the morning, beer in their hand, with four or five girls." He says that in recent years, a lot of club hits in Nairobi have also been gospel songs.

Not everyone in Kenya is on board with this trend.

"There's a big divide between the youth that are taking over the gospel scene, and their dancing, and a lot of the older generation just — they don't buy it," Kule says. "They have a problem with it. ... Churches have become louder than clubs, truth be told. I'd never believe I would see the day when a church would be more jiggy — gettin' more jiggy with it in a church than in a club."

VJ Kule's Playlist



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