Boomkat Product Review:
Open-hearted and fiery techno-dancehall futurism from the Democratic Republic of Congo's Rey Sapienz, vocalist and dancer Papalas Palata and rapper Fresh Doggis. Tradition, anxiety, conflict and stargazing fever dreams of the future for fans of Zazou Bikaye, Don Zilla or STILL.
Brought up in the midst of the bloodiest conflict since World War II, Rey Sapienz used music to both audit his horrifying experiences and momentarily escape reality. He started rapping at only 12 years old, before leaving the DRC for Uganda and learning to make beats with Kampala's growing crowd of visionary producers. "Na Zala Zala" is the result of Sapienz attempt to create a Congolese response to techno, and positions him alongside two performers who bring their own unique experiences to the mix.
Papalas Palata was a singer in Congolese legend Papa Wemba's band and was expected to be one of the greats of the genre. But war has a derailing affect on progress, and as his country was forced into catastrophe it was impossible to continue his work. Rapper Fresh Doggis is younger and brings his own unique perspective to the mix, learning his craft in a country ravaged by war. Between them, the three artists have developed a style that sits with the traditions of Congolese soukous music, but spikes it with ideas formed from a love of rap, techno and experimental music.
Both vocalists trade words in Lingala, singing and rapping about the constant anxiety that comes with their memories of the DRC. These words are splayed over beats that use Congolese percussive elements and loop them into kinetic, rolling rhythms that draw a straight line between techno, footwork, soukous and the 'ardkore continuum. It's expansive, motivated and unmistakably political music - the sound of artists who are screaming for their stories to be heard in a world that has ignored them for far too long.