Baloji, whose name means “wizard” in Swahili, was born in The Democratic Republic of Congo in 1978. At the age of four, he and his father moved to Belgium where he later discovered hip hop, graffiti, rap and dance.
At the age of only 15, Baloji became a member of the Starflam Collective, a leading collective within Belgian hip hop. Following some disagreements Baloji left the group in 2004, also turning his back on music for a while. After winning a poetry competition and receiving a letter from his mother who he had not spoken to since 1981, Baloji rediscovered the joys of creating music. Baloji’s first release “Hotel Impala” (2008) seemed as much a response to his mother’s letter as a search for a musical identity inspired by soul, afro beat and hip hop. The album went gold and won several prestigious prizes in France for both lyrics and music.
Following the release of “Hotel Impala” Baloji felt a need to travel back to DR Congo and explore his roots. He arrived in the capital Kinshasa with a plan to make re-recordings of his album tracks with help from local musicians. Baloji was so inspired by the result that he also wrote and recorded six brand new tracks during his stay. All the recordings from this trip were gathered on the album “Kinshasa Succursale” (2011) featuring some of Congo’s most influential musicians. Baloji is now touring with his new band, which he has named Orchestre de la Katuba, serving steaming hot live shows combining soul, French rap and Congolese rhythms.
Text: Thea Glenton Raknes