News Brief

Come Through Pierre Kwenders' 'MAKANDA' Album Release Party at Okay Space!

Congolese artist Pierre Kwenders is releasing his new album MAKANDA—and we're hosting a special album launch party at Okay Space this Friday.

Montreal-based Congolese artist Pierre Kwenders is readying the release of his sophomore album MAKANDA—and we've got a special album launch event planned for it at Okay Space this coming Friday.

Join us as Kwenders will be performing and showcasing tracks from his new album at our gallery space in Brooklyn.

MAKANDA carries the heritage of a modern Africa in which Congolese Rumba is at the forefront. The album, recorded in Seattle, was produced by Tendai Baba Maraire, one-half of the Seattle-based hip hop duo Shabazz Palaces.

Pierre Kwenders’ musical depth is present throughout the 11 tracks, which interweave new wave world music, rumba trap and indie afro. He sings and raps in four languages (lingala, french, english, shona), allowing him aesthetic and lyrical options most artists do not have. These four languages are the album’s cornerstones.

RSVP for Pierre Kwenders' MAKANDA album release party

This album puts Pierre Kwenders at the forefront of the Montreal’s afrocentric music scene. "I wanted to reflect a certain sensuality in my lyrics and my singing. There are a lot of love-related songs in this album. I wanted to dedicate it to women, especially," the artist explains. This ode to love is certainly present on the voluptuous song "Sexus Plexus Nexus," while on "Zonga" he remembers a childhood sweetheart and on "Rendezvous" he sings about taking his dream woman to Paris. The women in Pierre Kwenders’ life give him strength, hence the title Makanda (which means ‘strength’ in Tshiluba).

Pierre collaborated with many talented Seattle-based artists, including SassyBlack, Tanyaradzwa and Hussein Kalonji (a member of Chimurenga Renaissance) who played most of the guitar riffs on the album. He also collaborated with rapper Ish, AKA Ishmael Butler, the second-half of Shabazz Palaces. He is a Grammy-Award winner and former member of legendary group Digable Planets.

With MAKANDA, Pierre reinvents himself, moving away from the up-tempo beat of his debut album Le Dernier Empereur Bantou (2014). He drew inspiration from Congolese rumba legends, wanting to explore new sounds and push the boundaries of his own art.

Listen to the singles "La La Love" and "Tuba Tuba." Plus, watch the music video for "Sexus Plexus Nexus" above.

RSVP for the party is open now here.

 

 

 

 

 

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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