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Pierre Kwenders Pays Homage To The Legends Of Congolese Rumba In 'Sorry'

Quebec-based Congolese artist Pierre Kwenders talks to us about his recycled footage video for "Sorry" and his Congolese rumba influences.


Congolese artist Pierre Kwenders landed on our radar with last year's Le Dernier Empereur Bantou, an album that crafted electropop songs out of elements of Congolese rumba (or soukous) and modern beat programming — and earned Kwenders a Juno Awards nomination. In the video for his latest single "Sorry," the Quebec-based songwriter pays tribute to the pioneers of Congolese rumba with a recycled footage collage made up of performance videos from Tabu Ley Rochereau, Franco Luambo Makiadi, TPOK JazzSam Mangwana and others. The lyric video, co-directed by NOMAD, is a pretty fitting reflection of Kwenders' varied, distorted, and contemporary reinterpretation of the sounds of those DRC legends through his own artistic lens. We spoke with Pierre Kwenders via e-mail to discuss the background of "Sorry" and his Congolese influences. Read our short interview and watch the music video for "Sorry," premiering below.

Okayafrica: According to your press release, "Sorry" is inspired by a church song that you used to sing when you were in a choir. Can you expand on that?

Pierre Kwenders: At church we used to sing this song which was about asking for God's forgiveness - singing to wash away our sins essentially. In my song, "Sorry," forgiveness is being sought out in a romantic context. This song refers to the idea that sometimes we just need to accept the mistakes we make, seek forgiveness, and learn to forgive.

OKA: Tell us about the music video for the single and the recycled footage in it.

PK: I wanted to pay homage to the legends of Congolese rumba, dead or alive. I've always had this fantasy of seeing them singing my songs. This sort of makes it happen. A dream come true maybe.

OKA: What would you say are the Congolese influences on your sound?

PK: I’ve always been exposed to a lot of Congolese Rumba — a lot of Koffi Olomide, Franco and etc. I can't really put my finger on which aspect of this music influences the music I make today because it is very much a natural part of me. Whenever I approach a new song I think that I subconsciously recreate or borrow from that aesthetic, because I’ve had a strong relationship with it my whole life.

OKA: How do you pair those influences with the more modern electronic and pop beatwork in your songs?

PK: I think that all of the musicians that I admire the most have survived generations by adapting and by reinventing. My generation is heavily influenced by electronic music, so fusing both Afro and electro sounds brings a new element to both genres, subsequently bringing a larger audience.

OKA: You've worked with fellow Montreal-resident Samito. Do you find Montreal and Quebec have a growing afro-electronic scene

PK: Without a doubt. There is definitely something brewing within the Afro music scene in Montreal. It's become more and more common to hear songs with African origins such as Wizkid or Fantasma in the nightclubs. The solidarity between singers and DJs that share the scene here is incredible. I have to tip my hat to DJ Windows 98 [Arcade Fire's Win Butler] and Poirier who have both given me the opportunity to contribute to such an exciting music scene in Montreal. It feels great to be a part of something like this.

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Stop What You're Doing Right Now and Watch Falz's New Video 'This Is Nigeria'

The Nigerian rapper tackles his country's social ills in his very own answer to Childish Gambino's "This Is America."

Nigerian rapper, Falz has been known to use his sharp brand of humor to address social ills in his country. Today he's taken it a step further with the release of a new song and video entitled "This is Nigeria" and the outcome is an audacious, decidedly necessary critique of Nigerian society inspired by Childish Gambino's viral video "This is America."

Falz opens the song with a voice over of his father the lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, discussing the consequences of rampant corruption and exploitation, before adding his own cutting criticism: "This is Nigeria, look how I'm living now, look how I'm living now. Everybody be criminal," he rhymes as chaos ensues all around him.

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Photo courtesy of Nike

The Secret Behind Nike's New Naija Football Kits are Nigerians Themselves

The story behind the bold new uniforms the Super Eagles will be wearing at this year's World Cup.

Partner content from Nike

The new Nigeria football kits are not even out yet, but they're already causing pandemonium with Nigerian press reporting that there have been already 3 million worldwide orders. And it's easy to see why—the designs are daring with a bold nod to Nigerian culture that is very in vogue right now. In addition, UK Grime MCs with Nigerian roots, Skepta and Tinie Tempah have already been photographed in the new jerseys causing a surge of social media chatter about the new look.

But while rock star endorsements and an edgy new design will certainly bring attention, there's no doubt that the real bulk of the demand is due to what is ramping up to be a significant moment in the history of Nigerian football—the 2018 World Cup.



If you don't already know, Nigeria is entering this year's World Cup in Russia with some of the most exciting young players we've seen in years. With youthful talent like Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho—all 21—and veteran Olympic captain Jon Obi Mikel ready to take the field in Moscow all eyes are on Nigeria to advance out of Group D and challenge the world for a chance at the cup.

The plan here is to outdo the teams previous international achievement, the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal in men's football which is commemorated on the home kit with a badge recolored in the colors of the '96 gold medal-winning "Dream Team."

The home kit also pays subtle homage to Nigeria's '94 shirt— the first Nigerian team to qualify for the tournament—with its eagle wing-inspired black-and-white sleeve and green torso. But if the allusion to the pasty is subtle, the new supercharged patterns are anything but.

The look of the kit feels particularly in touch with what's going on in youth fashion both in Nigeria and the world and that's no accident. Much of the collection comes in bold print, both floral and Ankara-inspired chevrons, ideas that we've seen entering street wear collections and on the runway in recent years. That's because African and Nigerian style has become a big deal internationally of late. And not just in style, the country's huge cultural industries from Nollywood to Afrobeats have announced themselves on the world stage. This cultural ascendance is reflected in the design.


Courtesy of Nike

"With Nigeria, we wanted to tap into the attitude of the nation," notes Dan Farron, Nike Football Design Director. "We built this kit and collection based on the players' full identities." Along with other members of the Nike Football design group, Farron dug into learning more about Nigeria's players, "We started to see trends in attitude and energy connecting the athletes to music, fashion and more. They are part of a resoundingly cool culture."

In fact OkayAfrica has covered the team's love for music before—even dedicating an edition of the African in Your Earbuds mixtape to John Obi Mikel, Alex Iwobi & Kelechi Iheanacho's favorite songs to get hyped up before a game. When we asked the charismatic trio, they gave us list that included many of the huge Nigerian artists that we love, like Tekno, Wizkid, Yemi Alade and Nigerian-American rapper Wale and also, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, Celine Dion.

Nigerian culture has gone global partly through its infectious energy but also because of its vibrant diaspora populations that bring it with them wherever they land. Lagos-born Alex Iwobi whose goal in the 73rd minute to qualified Nigeria for this summer's tournament spent most of his life in London but still reps Naija to the fullest.

"I grew up in England, but Nigeria is my homeland," he says. "When I scored that goal, the players were dancing, the fans were playing trumpets and bringing drums…there was just so much passion and energy. It is always an honor to wear the white and green. To compete this summer is not just our dream, it is also the dream of our fans. Together, we all represent Naija."

This similar energy can be felt in Nigerian communities from Brooklyn to Peckham and even in China. Naija culture is truly global and no doubt the fans will embody the Naija spirit wherever they will be watching the games this summer.

If you're wondering, Nike isn't simply hopping on the Nigeria bandwagon. The apparel company has been sponsoring the Nigerian football since 2015, supplying kits to all nine of the Nigeria Football Federation teams at every level, including the men's and women's senior teams, men's and women's under-20 teams, men's and women's under-17 teams, men's and women's Olympic teams, and the men's beach football team.

So while the kit is available for purchase worldwide June 1, just know that you'll be competing with millions to get your own official shirts for the World Cup. If you are in New York, find the kit for sale exclusively at Nike's 21 Mercer store.

And please join OkayAfrica and Nike on June 2nd for Naija Worldwide as we celebrate Team Nigeria's journey to Russia in style.

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Listen to Adekunle Gold's New Album 'About 30'

Adekunle Gold's highly-anticipated sophomore album is here.

Adekunle Gold's much-anticipated sophomore album, About 30, has arrived.

The 14-track album boasts features from Seun Kuti, Flavor and British-Nigerian soul singer Jacob Banks, who appears on a remix to the popular lead single "Ire." The album sees the artist flexing immense versatility and range as he delivers emotional ballads, folk-Inspired cuts sung in Yoruba, and a few highlife-tinged summer jams.

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