Baloji: Finding A Home In His Music The Belgian rapper's beats are based on the music of Congo, where he was born. On his new album, Kinshasa Succursale, he reflects on his life as an African in Europe.
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Baloji: Finding A Home In His Music

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Baloji: Finding A Home In His Music

Review

Music Reviews

Baloji: Finding A Home In His Music

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Ever since the inception of rap music, musicians here have been mining older American music for beats. And as various cultures adopt rap, they're doing the same thing with their own musical heritage.

Baloji is a rapper born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Belgium. He uses Congolese music of the past as the inspiration for his sound and Banning Eyre has this review of his latest album.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BANNING EYRE: Baloji mostly raps in French, his deep voice full of cocky brashness. You can catch his vibe without translation, but it's worth reading the CD notes to get his messages as well. Baloji raps with brazen ease about the indignities of being an African in Belgium. But also the tragic, bloody history of his Congolese homeland.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: Unlike legions of his African hip-hop contemporaries, Baloji steers clear of familiar beats. He grew up on American rap, but later turned to the rich dance grooves of Congo music.

This CD's opening track revisits a 1960 Congo classic celebrating the country's independence. Baloji's edgy rap asks why none of the promises of that era ever came true.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LE JOUR D'APRÈS/SIKU YA BAADAYE (INDÉPENDANCE CHA-CHA)")

EYRE: Baloji recorded parts of this CD in Kinshasa. No easy task, given that city's chaotic state. He evokes that chaos in a standout track featuring the distorted thumb pianos of the band, Konono No. 1.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KARIBU YA BINTOU")

EYRE: Baloji is a profoundly uncomfortable artist. He feels like a stranger, both in Belgium and in the 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.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: The album by Baloji is called "Kinshasa Succursale." Our reviewer, Banning Eyre, is senior editor at AfroPop.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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