3.17.2012

Afternoon Afrobeat (#5): "Pop Revolution" by Alec Lomami


The Next Big Thing Coming from DRC: Alec Lomami. Photo via Shako Oteka

After three long months of me complaining about the cold weather in Chicago, it’s finally getting warm hot here, which is inevitably making me anxious to get back to Sierra Leone for the summer. While enjoying the sun and sand on Chicago’s beach the last two days, I decided I needed some better motivation to finish my paper on colonial representation of the Congo (which I cannot somehow manage to trim down from 8,000 to 4,000 words). Although my music from Le Grand Kalé has sufficed so far for writing this less-than-mediocre beast of a paper, I decided I needed something a bit more upbeat, more contemporary, and more…remarkable - to push me to finish. Inevitably, that meant reshuffling my playlist and putting Alec Lomami at the top, followed by Baloji, and some other great tunes I’ve been digging the past few weeks.

Alec (are we on a first name basis?), who was born in Bruxelles, raised in Kinshasa, and later moved to the U.S., stands tall among the best musicians coming not just from DRC, but from the continent as a whole. His transnational life experiences comes out in his Francophone music – it’s pop, but not the heartless crap produced in the U.S., it’s hip-hop, but to a whole new level, and at its core, it is Congolese. Alec describes it much more eloquently than I can in this Fader article:

I’m making music that’s just like me, proud of its origins as an African yet at home in the world at large.

Music from all around Africa has been gaining ground recently - I actually heard this Muthonithe Drummer Queen song outside of my iTunes the other day and I almost had a heart attack. Lomami’s music is part of the emerging movement of African musicians, artists, filmmakers, photographers, and writers making their names, stories, and countries known to those of us in the West. This African renaissance excites me: whether it was silenced, ignored, or I don’t know what - the magic coming from Africa has played a far too insignificant role in the West in the past. But thankfully, it’s changing because of greats, like Alec Lomami. In the same Fader article he says,

As an adult now, I came to appreciate my country, and my culture…I’m a part of this emerging class of young Africans who look back to their traditions with pride, while being at home in the west. Call them Afropolitan, Afropean or whatever the trendy name for it is now, but I’m just glad that more and more Africans are okay with being African!


I downloaded Lomami’s song Kinshasa after I returned from Sierra Leone in December and immediately craved more. Kinshasa has an sick beat and great lyrics in both Linguala and French. Even if you have no idea what he is saying, you can’t help but appreciate it. Luckily I didn't have to crave more songs for long – he released a new tracked called Pop Revolution about a month ago before heading to Zimbabwe because of green card issues (seriously, after taking my asylum, IDP, and refugee course these past few months, I’m increasingly becoming more and more pissed off with asylum and immigration policies in the U.S. – the whole system is broken and corrupt, but I’ll save that rant for another day).

Just like his first single, Pop Revolution also kills it. It was recorded in New York among other Afropolitans, and as Alec told Awkwaaba Music:

It felt like I was part of a renaissance of some sorts, so part of me wanted to capture that moment in a song.



I can't help but to admire Alec and his music when he says he likes legends like M'bilia Bel and Papa Wemba and appreciates contemporaries like Baloji, Spoek Mathambo, and Amadou and Mariam (I never get sick of them!). I'm eagerly awaiting the release of his album, which I'm sure will have several more great hits on it.

As he says on his Twitter bio: "I make heartfelt hip-pop songs" - And that he obviously does! Keep on producing great music and don't stop, Alec!

So grab these free downloads and accidentally listen to them on repeat for hours like I catch myself doing daily. If you like what you hear, check out his soundcloud/bandcamp, follow him on Twitter (@aleclomami), and check out his great Tumblr (also linked on the side of my blog).

>>Photo above this post is the wonderful work of Shako Oteka, another great product of DRC now working as a photographer here in the U.S. Be sure to check out his beautiful work on his blog and follow him on Twitter as well!

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