27 Sept 2022

Kisangani, Congo-Kinshasa

Le temps où la Musique Zaïroise était au sommet

'Franchement je pense que la période de grand succès de Koffi est dans les années 90 mais le Koffi que je préfère est celui des années 70. Les princesses ya Synza, Anibo, étoile du nord, femme nord, ndjoli, elengi ya mbonda, Asso, ekoti ya nzube etc sont des compositions incroyables, surtout qu’il n’avait que 21-22 ans… chapeau l’artiste…' -Nkingo wa kunanga

'Frankly I think that the period of great success of Koffi is in the 90s but the Koffi that I prefer is that of the 70s. Les Princesses ya Synza, Anibo, étoile du nord, femme nord, ndjoli, elengi ya mbonda, Asso, ekoti ya nzube etc are incredible compositions, especially when he was only 21-22 years old... hats off to the artist...' -Nkingo wa kunanga

'Enregistré en 1979, « Ba la joie » signe le début de l’émancipation de Koffi Olomidé jusqu’ici compositeur pour Papa Wemba (il a signé des titres fameux comme « Princesse Ya Synza » et « Asso »). Participent à cette première œuvre de nombreux artistes de la scène zaïroise comme Pépé Manuaku, Oncle Bapius, Bozi Boziana, Likinga, le groupe Viva La Musica de Papa Wemba et Zaïko Langa Langa.' -Sylvie Clerfeuille

'Recorded in 1979, Ba La Joie signs the beginning of the emancipation of Koffi Olomidé so far composer for Papa Wemba (he signed the famous titles as « Princess Synza Ya « and » Asso « ). Many artists (Pépé Manuaku, Uncle Bapius, Bozi, Likinga, the group Viva La Musica de Papa Wemba and Zaiko Langa Langa) have been involved in this first work.' -Sylvie Clerfeuille

Biography of Olomide, Koffi (Agbepa Mumba, Antoine), Congolese singer and band leader; born Kisangani, Congo-Kinshasa, Aug. 13, 1956.

Growing up in Kinshasa Olomide played a little guitar and listened to the music of the day including the great Tabu Leywhose style he admired. As a teenager he followed the band Zaiko Langa Langa, eventually striking up a friendship with singer Papa Wemba. By the time Olomide finished secondary school in the late seventies, Wemba had his own band, Viva la Musica. Olomide hung out with the band and contributed backing vocals on a few of its recordings.

In 1978, with help from a Kinshasa promoter, Olomide cut a series of 45s under his own name backed by moonlighting musicians, most of them from Viva. "Synza," "N'Djoli," and "Fleur Rose," love songs delivered in Olomide's smooth, sexy baritone, took Kinshasa by surprise. The city's music writers selected him as best composer and revelation of the year.

Shuttling between Kinshasa and university studies in France, and with no permanent band behind him, Olomide found it impossible to sustain his initial success. He slipped from view almost as rapidly as he had risen. The turning point in his career came in 1986 with the release of his first album,Dieu Voit Tout(God sees all), recorded with session musicians in Paris. Back in Kinshasa he put together a band called Quartier Latin and began to perform in earnest. An album variously known asTcha TchoorRue d'Amour(street of love) from 1987 and a follow-up,Elle et Moi(she and I), gentle collections of romance and spirituality voiced with Olomide's patented croon, solidified his position as the king of lover's rumba.

Economic decline in Congo-Kinshasa (then known as Zaire) forced the singer to spend much of the 1990s in Europe. In Paris Olomide and Quartier Latin became one of the city's top attractions, playing well-attended shows in prestigious halls like the Olympia, Le Zénith, and Bercy arena. He released albums at the rate of nearly one per year includingNoblesse Oblige(1994) andUltimatum(1997), two highly successful offerings in the seductive Olomide style. He began the 2000s in the same vein, perpetuating his winning formula with albums such asEffrakata(2001) andDanger de Mort(2006).

The instability of Congolese bands was never more apparent than with Olomide, whose Quartier Latin resembled less aquartierand more aporte tournante, with defectors and new recruits in perpetual rotation. And yet the chronic upheaval failed to deter Olomide, as evidenced by the consistent high quality of his work on stage and in the studio. He is an excellent song writer with a gift for melody and a voice to match. In the midst of the soukous revolution when the rumba rocked with incredible speed, Olomide was a throwback to the gentler era of Joseph Kabaseleand Tabu Ley. His popularity is particularly strong among women, who appear to be the bulk of his audience. That he successfully bucked the prevailing winds is a testament to his tenacity and talent. 

Koffi Olomide – N'djoli : Ba la Joie (78-79)

Label: Ngoyarto – NG 028
Format: CD, Compilation
Country: France
Released: 1997
Style: African, Rumba

1. N'Djoli feat. Orchestre Ba La Joie 8:59
2. Fleur Rose feat. Orchestre Ba La Joie 9:44
3. Bébé Ya Suka feat. Orchestre Ba La Joie 9:26
4. Géo feat. Orchestre Ba La Joie 9:42
5. Mwasi Ya Ngenge feat. Orchestre Historia 9:27
6. Etoile Du Nord feat. Langa Langa Stars 8:52
7. Femme Noire feat. Zaiko Langa Langa 10:50