Sometimes a musician releases a cool tune, and sometimes he or she produces a cool video, and once in a while, both the music and video are equally stunning. Check out the video by Belgian/Congolese artist Baloji for “Le jour d’apres/Siku ya baadaye," posted on YouTube in spring 2010.

Wouldn’t you love to be in that bar in Kinshasa, hanging with Baloji and his friends?

According to an article in the Guardian, it turns out Baloji has a shocking back-story as well. The artist was born in the Congo, but was shipped to Belgium at the age of three to live with his stepmother. Baloji’s biological parents disappeared from his life for more than 20 years.

As a teenager, Baloji was hanging with some rough kids and getting into trouble, but he found direction by immersing himself in hip-hop. He formed a crew called Starflam and sold a bunch of records for EMI. Starflam eventually broke up, and Baloji wasn’t doing much when, out of the blue, a letter arrived from his biological mother, whom he hadn’t heard from since the age of seven. His mother had recognized Baloji in a Starflam video, and sent a letter to him via a random stranger in the Lubumbashi airport. She addressed the letter to “Baloji Tshiani, Musician,” and somehow the letter ended up in his hands.

Imagine receiving a letter from your mother after not hearing from her for 20 years. Baloji decided to make an album for his mother, to tell her what he’d been up to for that time. The album was called Hotel Impala. Since then, Baloji has been to visit his mother and recorded a followup album in Kinshasa called Kinshasa Succursale.

Check out this video, from Baloji's album Kinshasa Succursale, a collaboration with Konono No 1:

I’m guessing we’ll be hearing a lot more from Baloji in the future. What about you – know any musicians you think are “ones to watch?” Let us know, in comments below.

Related links

Amadou & Mariam’s joyful Folila

Ethiopian Music: An emerging force in popular culture

MTV interview with Baloji

posted by Reuben Maan on Apr 02, 2012