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Niska. Image via Facebook.

10 Musicians That Prove the Congolese Diaspora Is Killing It Right Now

Get to know these 10 Congolese musicians making major waves across the world.

For decades, Congolese musicians have made major waves throughout the world with rumba, soukous, ballads, and ndombolo.

Today's Congolese artists serve as ambassadors much like the greats that came before them: Koffi Olomide, Papa Wemba, Pépé Kallé, Zaiko Langa Langa, Awilo Longomba, Madilu System, and Ferre Gola to name a few. Music is a critical export for both the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Congolese diaspora has migrated to the West but has not forgotten its roots. In Europe, Congolese musicians fills their raps with calls to home. Today's French rap is filled with lyrics in lingala, rumba guitar riffs and first hand stories of what it's like to deal with day-to-day life as an immigrant. French music has undergone a "Congolization".

Explore the list of musicians pushing this movement forward below:

Maître Gims

Gandhi Djuna, better known as, Maître Gims, is a 31-year-old Franco-Congolese musician whose career spans 15 years. Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo but raised in France, he's paved the way for the majority of the men on this list. The superstar got his start rapping in college with the hip-hop group Sexion d'Assaut, which was comprised of 8 rappers from all over Paris. The apple doesn't far from the tree as his father, Djuna Djanana, was a vocalist for Papa Wemba and many of his siblings have pursued careers as musicians. In 2013, it was reported that he was one of the highest paid musicians in France. His solo albums, Subliminal (2013) and Mon cœur avait raison (2015) topped French charts. His newest album, Ceinture noire, coming out later this year is highly-anticipated. Maître Gims' star shines so bright it's no wonder he never takes off his sunglasses!

Singuila

Bedaya Singuila N'Garo or Singuila is a French R&b; singer of Congolese and Central African descent who's been serenading audiences since 1998. He has released four albums and shows no signs of stopping with recent singles, "Retour de flamme" and "Ay Mama," as well as a seat as a "The Voice Africa" coach.

Dadju

Dadju Djuna Tsungula is Maitre Gims 26-year-old little brother. It comes as no surprise that he's musically inclined, with large shoes to fill with regards to his father and brother. Dadju's childhood was filled with sounds of Congolese religious music, rumba, rap and R&B.; He signed to his brother's label Wati B as a member of the duo The Shin Sekai, the other member being Abou Tall, and from 2012 through 2016 the two made a few great songs, namely "Mes Epaules" and "Aime Moi Demain." His big break would come with the start of his solo career, the song "Reine" and the release of his first album Gentlemen 2.0 at the end of last year. Dadju just wrapped an African tour and is set to tour Europe this spring. He's already sold out Paris' notable Olympia Music Hall two times over in less than 10 minutes each time! Although his brother's success offers him visibility, he's well on his way to carving his own path with his infamous adlib, Oh Oh Ah.

Damso

Two years ago, William Kalubi was unknown. Today, he's the unique Belgian-Congolese rapper, Damso, with a millions followers and a record deal with 92i. Damso's noted for ambitiously never reproducing a flow from one track to the next. His second 3x platinum album, Ipséité, catapulted his career. In it, he discusses his fears, problems, his home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and attempts to find himself. He recounts leaving the DRC due to civil war and the issues ravaging his country. His body of work is as eclectic as it is dark and violent. His writing is pictorial and full of obscene images. Fans yearn for more confessions from the artist.

Siboy

The hooded rapper/producer Siboy was born in Brazzaville, leaving during his youth to live in France. He recounts being homeless with his family sleeping in both metro stations and state housing. He'd find refuge in trap music and accidentally happened upon his current career after playing with a friend's studio equipment. As you would expect, his trials and tribulations can be heard in most of his work. Last June, his first album Special, comprised of trap and afrobeats, made a bang. His platinum single "Mobali" was lighter than the slew of aggressive tracks found on his debut. The hood he dawns to hide his identity hasn't stopped him from being a part of the new school of French rap.

Niska

Stan Dinga Pinto aka Niska's three albums Charo Life, Zifukoro, and Commando have all topped France's charts. His electrifying music calls on his fans to dance and bob their heads to every track. He's further hypnotized audiences with the phrases he has them chanting along to, "Bendo," "baye," and "hello". The Universal Music France and Barclays Records signee also commands via his accessible social media presence.

KeBlack

In today's day and age, many young men and women are making name's for themselves using the internet. KeBlack is no different. This French singer got his start on Youtube recording himself both singing and freestyling. During the Euro 2016, French soccer stars Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba recorded themselves dancing to his chart-topping track, "J'ai déconné." The publicity this stunt afforded him and the videos he already had up went viral and led to the release of his first album Premier étage in January of 2017. With musical talent rooted on a love of Papa Wemba and French rapper Kerry James, this artist is sure to go far.

Hiro Le Coq

The ex leader of Congolese dance troupe, Bana C4, released his first solo album De la haine à l'amour in late 2017. It was a natural progression brought on by the success of his 2016 singles, "Aveugle" and "Mayday." The artist, who's signed to Bomaye Musik, produced a gem and even features a collab with soukous great, Koffi Olomide.

Gracias

Deogracias 'Gracias' Masomi is a Congolese-born, Finnish rapper fusing his African roots with an upbringing in a country that's overwhelmingly Caucasian. With two English albums under his belt, Globe (2012) and Elengi (2014), and his work on a third, he's breaking boundaries in a country that lacks representation by people like him. This music video above, in particular, screams black boy joy. It was directed by a collective of young people of color, Gracias and Congolese football player, Nosh A Lody and styled by Congolese stylist Patisse A Lody. It even features clothes from the Congolese brand Kasaï Finland.

Naza


Mawikiya Ngara Van or Naza is a Franco-Congolese rapper who very evidently draws influence from his home. His atypical voice is unlike any other in the industry. His music is as much rap as it is neo-rumba. It's great for festive occasions, as well. The release of his first album, Incroyable, had fans buzzing last year. Naza's got millions of views under his belt and is making a second album.

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The Ethiopian Government Has Asked Olympic Runner In Exile, Feyisa Lilesa, to Return Home

After two years in exile, the Olympic athlete will return home and receive a "hero's welcome."

Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian runner who went into exile in 2016 after bravely protesting the Ethiopian government's brutal treatment of its Oromo population at the Rio Olympics, has been invited to return to home.

After living in self-imposed exile United States for two years the marathoner, who demonstrated by crossing his fists as he reached the finish line and claimed the silver medal, has been extended an offer to return to his homeland and compete for his country once again by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation and the country's Olympic committee. According to VOA News, the runner will return home in the coming weeks with his wife and children.

"Athlete Feyisa Lilesa has scored great results at the Rio Olympics and other athletics competitions enabling Ethiopia's flag to be hoisted to great heights," read a joint letter from the two athletics organizations.

"We want Lilesa to return to his home country to resume his athletics competition and upon his return we are prepared to give him a hero's welcome."

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Image via GovernmentZA's Flickr.

Could Justice Finally Be on the Horizon for Marikana Massacre Families?

New evidence suggests that the police intended to kill all along.

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, when 34 mine-workers were gunned down by police after several days of wage disputes at Lonmin Mine in Rustenburg, North West province. New information was recently uncovered that undermines the police's longstanding claim that they acted in self-defence. If anything, it is a glimmer of hope for the families of the victims that remain left behind in the aftermath of that tragedy.

It was the worst mass civilian killing since the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, where South African protesters were killed for opposing the Apartheid regime. The Marikana Massacre, in contrast, was the tragic consequence of week-long wage disputes and clashes between miners and the South African police.

While media footage appears to show the miners as the victims, police have always argued that they were acting in self defence. Consequently no officers involved have been charged. Instead, the surviving mineworkers face murder charges under the doctrine of common purpose. But unnerving facts have come to light that seem to make the police argument even less likely. This includes the ordering of 4000 rounds of live ammunition and several vans from the mortuary the day before the massacre.

I cannot even begin to unpack my anger and frustration at this terrible irony.

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Remembering Aretha Franklin and Her Heartfelt Connection With Nelson Mandela

In honor of the Queen of Soul's immeasurable impact, we revisit her passionate support of Nelson Mandela, and the anti-apartheid movement, through her musical tributes.

Iconic singer, Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul" passed away on Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Franklin was considered by many to be the greatest singer of all time. Her influence on popular music cannot be overstated. The legendary artist sold 75 million records and earned 18 Grammys in a career spanning six decades and she was influential in many global social movements as well.

Having been a widely-embraced public figure for so long, Franklin was present for some of the biggest events of the 20th century, including the funeral of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.

Upon Mandela's release, the singer played a unique role in welcoming him to the States by performing at a freedom rally in his honor in Detroit. Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson and Stevie Wonder were also in attendance for the historic night. During the celebration, Franklin called the anti-apartheid leader on stage, where he spoke about listening to and appreciating "the Detroit, Motown Sound" while he was in prison.

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