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Episode 21


Republic of Congo

By far one of my favorite musical journeys so far, I take you to the Democratic Republic of Congo. An up-lifting mix of rhythm, Rumba, Soukous and Afro-latin grooves.

After the Congo Crisis and their independence from Belgium in the 1960’s, between the 1960s and 1970s, Congolese musicians absorbed musical influences from various parts of the world.


Genres included American jazz, rhythm and blues, European and Cuban music. The Afro-Latin sounds of Cuba were so influential that some Congolese musicians even sometimes sang in Spanish. New genres were created such as Congolese rumba or Soukous and the Congolese guitar style influenced numerous musicians in the African continent.

Musicians based in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) and Brazzaville were very popular and thousands of fans throughout the Congo and elsewhere in Africa danced to their songs. Legends of the scene included Docteur Nico, Grand Kallé and Tabu Ley, Franco’s OK Jazz Orchestra and Verckys.

DRC has over 200 native languages including French, but in the end I found dear Cédric Dh to record the introduction in the native Lingala language. Thanks again for listening.

Musical history and styles

Music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo varies in its different forms. Outside Africa, most music from the Democratic Republic of Congo is called Soukous, which most accurately refers instead to a dance popular in the late 1960s. The term rumba or rock-rumba is also used generically to refer to Congolese music, though neither is precise nor accurately descriptive.

People from the Congo have no single term for their own music per se, although muziki na biso ("our music") was used until the late 1970s, and now the most common name is ndule, which simply means music in the Lingala language; most songs from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are sung in Lingala.


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