Culture Trip stands with Black Lives Matter. Papa Wemba is such an important figure in Congolese music that it is nearly impossible to compete with him. Regardless of the popular hits and artists of the moment, the first name that comes to mind when thinking about Congolese music and rumba is Papa Wemba. He then composed several politically-themed songs, which became very famous. During a span of 40 years in the music industry, Franco produced over albums and approximately 1, songs to his name. His music blended Cuban rumba with local Congolese rhythms, attracting both the young and the elderly. His influence can be heard in local music today, and remains popular in nightclubs. With several gold records in his career, Koffi Olomide is a superstar of fast soukous ndombolo music. He is a producer, composer, dancer, and singer whose fame extends worldwide. He has succeeded in filling the biggest mega-venues in France that many French artists themselves have not managed to pack.
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In this paper I will look briefly at how Afro-Cuban music came to be imported and distributed in the Belgian Congo and I will discuss some of the stylistic borrowing that has given Congolese music a strongly Afro-Cuban flavor. By comparing the appropriation of Afro-Cuban music in the Congo during two distinct historical periods during the peak of colonialism and several years after the death of Mobutu , I hope to show not only how changes in larger political economies correspond with changing notions of cosmopolitanism in a local setting, but also how popular music mediates at various levels between the local and the foreign. Given that since the beginning of Congolese modern music in the s, Afro-Cuban music has been one of its primary sources of inspiration, this is obviously not a coincidence. In historical terms, it is probably more accurate to say that Cuba and other Caribbean nations have been inspired by the musical traditions of Africa, though this is not the focus of my article. While research on the question of transatlantic cultural flows can provide valuable information about the roots and resilience of culture, I am more interested in what these flows mean to people in particular times and places and ultimately what people are able to do with them, both socially and politically. In this article I will look briefly at how Afro-Cuban music came to be imported to the Congo in the form of a series of records referred to as the G. I will reflect on what this musical style might have sounded like to Congolese living under colonial rule, but also what kind of social significance it held for them. But this is not how I came on the question of cosmopolitanism. When I began field research on Congolese popular dance music in the summer of , the Democratic Republic of Congo was still Zaire. As a complement to my work on popular music during the Mobutu years, I recently began research on questions of popular culture and cultural policy in the cities of the Belgian Congo.
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