Video

Baloji's Love Letter To The Congo Is The Most Stunning Music Video Of The Year

Baloji searches for Congolese style on a road trip through Kinshasa in the stunning music video for "Capture," off the 64 Bits & Malachite EP


Photo Credit: Kristin Lee Moolman

Baloji goes in search of Congolese style in a stunning music video that premiered yesterday on NOWNESS. Shot and devised by Baloji himself, the clip takes the Congolese-born, Belgium-based rapper on a road trip through Kinshasa alongside the afrofuturistic street performance collective Kongo Astronauts. According to NOWNESS, one aim of the trip was to track down a lost statue of the Welsh explorer Henry Morton Stanley. Along the way, the artist takes in the beauty of his birth country. “We went to a real funeral and I tried to capture something super-honest,” he tells NOWNESS. “I think beauty has something to do with dignity. Even if they are living in a crazy situation, they are so proud.”

The song itself, which Baloji wrote with London-based Nigerian songwriter and producer Olugbenga (of Metronomy), is an early single off his forthcoming 64 Bits and Malachite EP, and features the devastating vocals of Petite Noir (who himself is half Congolese) and Kinshasa-based singer Muanza (of Chorale de la Grâce).

A press release details the meaning of "bits" and "malachite" and its significance for Baloji– who tells NOWNESS that everything he does in music is computer-based, with 40% of his computer and phone coming from Congolese soil– and his birthplace, the Katanga region of the DRC:

"64 bits is the current reference for processors. It evokes the idea of built-in obsolescence; how previous versions, even if they still function, are designed to become useless, like Malachite.

Malachite is a green-layered stone found in Katanga (DRC Congo). The whole world comes to Katanga for its precious minerals, but those with only sentimental value, such as malachite, are rare. It is one of the few Congolese minerals not used in this computer that helps Baloji to create and share his music.

64 bits & Malachite mines our operating systems: it is a metaphor of our era, a melody of diaspora; a nomadic music between encounters and collisions."

Baloji's 64 Bits & Malachite is due out in October by Universal France, and will be launching alongside the artist's malachite eyewear collection created in collaboration with Komono. Watch the video for "Capture" below.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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