Video

This Video Looks At Congolese Sapeur Culture From A Whole New Perspective

Kinshasa rapper Alec Lomami takes a look at the positive and negative influences of sapeur culture in the DRC.

Alec Lomami. Photo courtesy of the artist.


By now you’ve seen images of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s impeccably dressed sapeurs splashed across countless fashion editorials. For his new music video for “Fresh: Dans La Peau D'un Sapeur,” Kinshasa rapper and producer Alec Lomami takes a deeper look at the positive and negative influences of sapeur culture in the DRC.

“I wanted to highlight the duality of how sapeurs are viewed in DRC as opposed to how they are almost unanimously worshiped in Western publications,” Lomami explains to Okayafrica. “At the same time, I didn't want to sound preachy, so created I a fictitious character to convey the narrative [of the song].”

That duality is present in the song’s French lyrics, which feature lines like, “These clothes cost me an arm and a leg, meanwhile my stomach is crying famine. Some people see us as fuck ups. Other people see us as superstars.”

“Fresh: Dans La Peau D'un Sapeur” is co-produced by Lomami and PGMW and features backing vocals by Karun Mungai aka Runka of Cosmic Homies. The track also samples a Jay Z line (“You can learn how to dress just by checking my fresh") which Lomami mentions he’d always “envisioned sampling to touch on La Sape.”

The track’s music video compiles existing footage of sapeurs in Kinshasa and the DRC, check it out below.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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