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Remembering Papa Wemba: Style Icon And The King Of Congolese Rumba

Papa Wemba died while performing on stage this past Sunday in Abidjan.

Photo courtesy of Dicap Ipups.


The world mourns another musical pillar of the continent this week—Papa Wemba. Also known as Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, the musician and style icon hailed from the Democratic Republic of Congo and transfixed Africa and the francophone world with his unique voice, creativity and stage presence.

The start of the 1950s was marked by the flourishing of Congolese rhumba music or soukous. In the 1970s, Papa Wemba's creative spirit catapulted that genre to new heights. He illuminated souls with his fusion of Latin, rock, and traditional African music. His light shined like that of the musical greats of the African continent such as Miriam Makeba, Fela Kuti and Manu Dibango. His emotional and distinctive voice would serve as a bridge from the continent to the world. He would influence artists after him like Koffi Olomide, Angelique Kidjo, and Stromae.

Le Roi de la SAPE or the "King of the SAPE" created a movement that inspired young men to spend their money on designer clothes. The Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (The Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People) donned Cavalli, Versace, Burberry, and Miyake to dignify themselves and transcend the poverty that was rampant in their existence. In the documentary, The Importance of Being Elegant, the leader of the movement describes kitendi, Lingala for "cloth," as a religion. If you are unsure of just how influential this man was, watch Solange’s Losing You video or the Guinness Sapeurs ad series to see just how far his reach has spanned.

Last Sunday, on April 24, 2016, he collapsed to his death on stage while performing at a festival in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Kinshasa mourned. Africa mourned. We were eerily reminded earlier this year that this was the way the 66-year-old wanted to go when he stated in an interview with Ivorian TV presenter Serge Fatoh Eleingan:

My last concert will be where I go. I will reveal that sometimes at concerts, I feel like I am floating. Perhaps, one day I will go like this.

I will remember dancing to his music videos at the age of seven. I will remember my father harmonizing to his songs on drives to high school. I will remember my mother closing her eyes as she listens to “Yolele.” We will continue to hear his voice for years to come and be reminded of the vibrant artistry that can be birthed from a continent deemed dark too often.

Audrey Lang is an alumna of Northeastern University and a Boston-based site merchandiser at All Modern. A surveyor of life who's enamored with all things fashion, art and Africa, keep up with her on Instagram and Tumblr.

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Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kofi Annan, Has Died

The celebrated Ghanaian humanitarian and the first black African to serve as head of the UN, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.

Kofi Annan, the seventh UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away on Saturday morning following a brief illness. "His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during the last days," read a family statement. He was 80.

Annan was the first black African to serve as head of the United Nations, holding the prestigious position from 1997 to 2006. He was lauded for his global humanitarian work, eventually earning Annan and the UN a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."

Annan was head of the UN during the onslaught of the Iraq War, proving to be one of the most challenging global events to occur under his time as Secretary General and one of the most divisive of the early 21st century. "I think the worst moment of course was the Iraq war, which as an organization we couldn't stop—and I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it," he said in 2006.

Annan was also the founder of the Kofi Annan foundation and chairman of The Elders, an international humanitarian organization of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela.

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Janet Jackson Returns With Afrobeats-Inspired Song & Video 'Made For Now' Featuring Daddy Yankee

The icon's latest is a nod to the sound, fashion and culture of the diaspora.

Ms. Jackson is back.

The iconic artist returns with her first single since the release of her 2015 album Unbreakable, and it's a timely nod to the "made for now" influence of afrobeats fashion, sound and culture.

On "Made For Now," which features Puerto Rican reggaeton titan Daddy Yankee, Janet Jackson does what she's done successfully so many times throughout her decades-long career: provide an infectious, party-worthy tune that's fun and undeniably easy to dance to. "If you're living for the moment, don't stop," Jackson sings atop production which fuses dancehall, reggaeton and afrobeats.

The New York-shot music video is just as lively, filled with eye-catching diasporic influences, from the wax-print ensembles and beads both Janet and her dancers wear to the choreographed afrobeats-tinged dance numbers, which see the dancers hitting the Shoki at one point in the video. The train of dancers travel throughout the streets of Brooklyn, taking over apartment buildings and rooftops with spirited moves.

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Audio

You Need to Hear Juls' New Single 'Saa Ara'


New hip-hop and highlife grooves from the celebrated UK-based Ghanaian producer.

By merging the diverse influence of growing up in Accra and East London, Juls has managed to cultivate a hybrid afrobeats style that has set him apart from the rest.

For his latest single, "Saa Ara," he teams up with award-winning rapper Kwesi Arthur and gifted lyricist Akan.

The brilliant fusion of vintage highlife instrumentals and booming hip-hop beats, along with Kwesi Arthur's lively chorus and Akan's fiery delivery gives the song a very spiritual and classical feel.

Soothe your soul this weekend with these tasteful sounds from Juls.

Listen to "Saa Ara" by Juls featuring Kwesi Arthur and Akan below.

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