Winter is coming to its end and all we need is a huge glass of hot, sun-drenched vibes: let these guys provide!
Formed by two former members of Staff Benda Bilili, Mbongwana Star was created with the idea of putting together a unique Congolese sound, mixed with electro, afrobeat and – who would’ve thought – some hints of punk rock. The result is a glorious interpretation of Kinshasa’s beautiful chaos and the unique musical energy inside the natives of the Democratic Republic of Congo. And guess what? They’re touring Europe and everybody freaking loves them!
Their former band, Staff Benda Bilili, were a very special bunch in the first place – a band formed by street musicians, some wheelchair-bound because of childhood polio, who had spent years building instruments from rubbish.
Mbongwana – “change” in Lingala – represents the band’s wish to leave rumba aside and use new technologies in their songwriting. Like most of the Kinshasa youth, they grew up listening to a wide array of music genres, from hip-hop to rock and electro, and their 2015 album From Kinshasa – complete with hypnotic dub chords and incantatory vocals – is a pure product of these influences. The fact that Mbongwana Star have a western-leaning sound that could perfectly fit European night clubs gives them a good chance of following in the footsteps of Konono no1 and Kasaï Allstars. From Kinshasa was produced by Liam Farell – Doctor L – an Irish trip-hop producer. He travelled to Kinshasa, the 3rd largest African city, to record the album in a makeshift studio and often had to deal with electricity shortages by using loud generators. “Suzanna” and its heavy bass sound reminds us of these hostile conditions. As they say: This is Africa!
The album was released mid-2015 on the World Circuit label and received very positive feedback from the media. They’ve been touring since, and have 30 gigs booked from the 24th of March. The Congolese outfit will be performing in Holland, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the US, Austria and Sweden. Find all their upcoming shows here:
Here’s a really cool documentary you can watch if you want to know more about the band: Benda Bilili, 2010