By 11am this morning Pharrell Williams’ pop friendly and infectious “Happy” had racked up 138,948,968 views on Youtube and obviously making him and his record company a lot of money. If it’s not enough that it is playing on every commercial radio station (or in every department) store and is “the world’s first 24 hour music video” (who watches a music video that long?), it is also now the subject of homage videos in which people lip-synch the lyrics to “Happy.” And, like everyone else, Africans want in on the game. The videos are city-themed. Enjoy.
On January 17th, a group of local artists (Pitcho Womba Konga, Fredy Massamba, Badi Banx, Caroline, Kamanda, Lety, Jack, Karim, Christian, Malkia and myself) pulled off “the Action” in L’Horloge Du Sud, better known as the Afro-European cultural spot in the center of Brussels. The date was chosen carefully to launch the “Congolization” artistic movement while remembering the assassination of Patrice Lumumba (he had murdered by a conspiracy of the Belgian and American governments along with General Mobuto). Pitcho Womba Konga, myself and all our cultural partners wanted to promote more than ever spaces where artists related to the Congolese diaspora could freely tell their side of the story.
This summer I’ve been hired as a freelancer for Iggy, MTV’s global music website. The site is aimed at young people to introduce them to the idea that pop music is a global phenomenon (if today’s tech savvy youth already didn’t know.) I get paid by Viacom every time I put something up there, but it’s a pretty quick moving stream of content, and posts tend to disappear rather quickly. I thought it would be good to run each one of my posts as a series over here on Africa is a Country.
New York is an amazing city, especially from a hip-hop perspective. It’s one of the few places on earth where you can see that hip-hop is part of the culture, not just something that you watch on TV. But for me – doing music that is mostly in French and not in some Congolese language that sounds exotic for Western people – it’s a difficult market. I take everything that happens here like a plus one. I’m not supposed to be here.