Audio

Petite Noir Is the King of Noirwave

On his new release, La Maison Noir, Petite Noir blends bombastic rhythms, surging melodies, and the style and substance of the DRC.

Petite Noir gained global notoriety by 2015 for his brilliant, shapeshifting pop debut La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful. The album was self-described by the artist, born Yannick Ilunga, as noirwave, a genre that extends beyond the music to embrace new concepts of freedom, power and African solidarity.

Three years later, Petite Noir has returned with a six-track EP and an accompanying four-track short film that delves considerably deeper into noirwave and his Congolese roots. The music of La Maison Noir / The Black House and its introspective 18-minute film explores ideas of gender, identity as a migrant, and political resistance.

A young Yannick Illunga and his family fled the Democratic Republic of Congo and went into exile after his father faced threats as a former minister of the DRC. They emigrated to Belgium and France before settling permanently in Cape Town.

It's clear from Petite Noir's distinct, genre-blurring noirwave aesthetic that he's absorbed influences on a global scale. His discography up until now showcases a thrilling range of left-field electronics, post-punk and alternative rock, all anchored to the more traditional African sounds of his childhood. Petite Noir is a truly cosmopolitan artist. But on La Maison Noir, moving to the foreground through its bombastic rhythms and surging melodies, the style and substance of Africa takes precedence.



Lead single "Blame Fire" is a polyrhythmic spree of focused aggression and optimistic jubilance, describing the origin tale of Petite Noir. "It is a [phrase] that I created to express the way one feels when you have been down for so long but the drive and fire is still inside of you," Petite Noir told The FADER. "You are thankful! It's all about channeling the revenge energy." During the "Blame Fire" portion of Petite Noir's La Maison Noir film, televisions and vintage cars are set ablaze to symbolize the destruction of the material world.

More than anything else Petite Noir has produced to date, this record is a genuine reflection of his ancestry, his reality and the new culture he's created. He acknowledges his identity and his past thoughtfully through both mediums of music and film. His wife Rochelle Nembhard, credited as Rha! Rha!, contributes background vocals to "F.F.Y.F. (POW)" and "Hanoii," but also serves as the creative director and primary collaborator behind the record's visual.

Shot in the dunes and deserts of Namibia, the gorgeous film heavily references the four-pronged Congolese cosmogram, signifying the four elements, the cycle of life, the cycle of a day and the division between the spiritual and physical worlds. Performance artist and musician Manthe Ribane stars in striking scenes where she implements striking choreography in various costumes to convey the struggle for women's rights. Similar themes of migration and resistance are echoed in the film–all issues impacting Africa in a considerable way.

While La Maison Noir is certainly his project that concentrates the most on DRC and the African continent, it it also might be his darkest. The pop-punk sounds and power chords of La Vie Est Belle are long gone. In their place are Danny Brown and Saul Williams features, track titles like "Blowing Up The Congo," more complex production styles and a gritty, punk integrity that closely resembles the feeling of protest music. That darkness, matched only by his rebellious spirit, is what sets Petite Noir apart from most of his contemporaries.

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Photo still via TIFF.

Watch the Striking Trailer for 'Farming'—Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Directorial Debut

This is a must-watch.

The trailer for Farming, Nigerian-British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's directorial debut, is here.

"Between the 1960s and the 1980s, thousands of Nigerian children were farmed out to white working class families in the UK," the trailer begins. "This is the true story of just one of them."

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Politics
Image by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

#IStandWithIlhan: Supporters Rally Behind Ilhan Omar Following Racist 'Send Her Back' Chant

"I am here where I belong, at the people's house, and you're just going to have to deal,"—Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

Social media continues to rally behind Representative Ilhan Omar, following a series of racist remarks targeted at her and several other congresswoman of color by President Donald Trump.

The president doubled down on his racist rhetoric during a re-election rally in North Carolina on Wednesday, attendees began chanting "send her back," referring to Omar—echoing anti-imigrant remarks that the president tweeted last week, in which he wrote that four congresswomen of color: Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib should "go back" to where they came from.

This is far from the first time that Omar has been on the receiving end of racist and Islamophobic attacks and referred to as un-American on account of her Somali heritage.

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Sir Elvis in "Loving Man" (Youtube)

6 African Country Musicians You Should Check Out

Featuring Sir Elvis, Jess Sah Bi & Peter One, Emma Ogosi and more.

With Lil Nas X's EP going straight to number on the American charts, it seems like country music revival is taking over 2019 and beyond, thanks to its unlikely fusion with trap music. It only makes sense that black people are reclaiming the genre, as country was actually partly created by black American artists and heavily influenced by gospel music.

On top of that, plenty of lesser known black artists and bands are making country, or country-infused, music. This is especially the case in Africa, where the genre has been around for a few decades and an increasing number of musicians are gaining momentum. By gaining popularity in Africa, country is coming back to its roots, as country guitar and the way of playing it was originally inspired by the banjo— an instrument that African slaves brought with them to America.

Country music has a strong appeal across the African continent for several reasons: the similarity with many African instruments and the recurring lyrics and themes about love, heartbreak and "the land." At the heart of it, country music has an appeal to working class people all over the world who feel let down by the people that were supposed to help them.

Country music is played regularly on the radio in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi but yet, the artists featured are overwhelmingly white and American. African country singers do not get the respect they deserve or are seen as anomalies. With the growing number of them making country music, here is a list of the ones you need to listen to right now.

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