Congolese Rumba is the glorious musical hybrid of Cuban music fused with African DNA. It started back in the 1950s with a boatload of 78 rpm Cuban records featuring Arsenio Rodriguez, Orquesta Aragón, Beny Moré, Miguelito Valdes, and other Cuban stars. Africans in Senegal, Mali, and the then Belgian Congo (capital: Kinshasha) and French Congo (capital: Brazzaville) ate it up. It was somehow familiar, with the added twist that Cuban musical wizardry can provide.

This week’s Rhythm Planet gives an hour’s taste of some Congolese Rumba classics. This is mostly music from the 1970s and 1980s that was never really meant to come to America. Most of it was produced in Paris and was destined for clubs and fans in Paris, Brussels, Dakar, Kinshasha, and Brazzaville. Some of it got to England, and with the spread of world music beginning in the mid-1980s, it came to America as well.

The cuts are long: not really meant for radio, this is dance music for parties and clubs. Songs are in Congolese Lingala or French. All musicians and bands are Congolese except for Bebe Manga, who came from neighboring Cameroon.

There are many other great Congolese Rumba bands not included here: African Fiesta, Pamelo Mounk’a, Franco &  OK Jazz, Papa Wemba, Dr. Nico, Kekele, Pépé Kalle, and Madilu System are just a few other artists and bands to enjoy. Be sure to have some of this timeless music in your collection.

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Rhythm Planet Playlist: 9/20/13

  1. Les Bantous De La Capitale / Machette / Congo: Rumba On The River / Syllart Productions
  2. Tshala Muana / Emony / Biduaya / Melodie
  3. Theo Blaise Kounkou / Belle Amicha / Theo Blaise Kounkou 1 / Sonodisc
  4. Mbillia Bel / Eswi Yo Wapi / Bel Canto / Sterns
  5. Sam Mangwana / Femmes Africaines / Sings Dino Vangu / Stern’s Africa
  6. Tabu Ley Rochereau / C’est Comme Ca La Vie / C’est Comme Ca La Vie / Sono Disc
  7. Bebe Manga / Amie / Golden Afrique Vol. 1 / Network

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