Baloji shares “Soleil De Volt” featuring Shingai
Today Baloji is pleased to debut a new remix of his track “Soleil De Volt” by UK musician Shingai on AFROPUNK. The track is taken from his recent, critically-acclaimed album, 137 Avenue Kaniama, that was released in March through Bella Union.
Baloji comments of the remix and collaboration: “I’ve been a Shingai fan for years now! I had the chance to see her live several times, she’s simply my favorite performer, showman and bassist with dexterity like none! We finally met during the Africa’s Express tour by Damon Albarn where she killed the show in a fantastic trio with Marques Toliver & Paul McCartney. She then accepted to play a role in my short film (The Kaniama Show) and we got in the studio the day after in Bruxelles: The session went extremely smooth as she’s an amazing soul! We plan to work together in the near future on more music and I’d love to direct one of her videos. I imagine that what we create will be no less than visually compelling”
Congolese-born Baloji’s music stands at the crossroads of traditional African music and Afro-American music (hip-hop, soul, funk, jazz). Growing up in Belgium – which he describes as, “a land of surrealism and multiple identities” – Baloji discovered the culture of sampling in electronic music. The result is a record combining African rhythms – not only Congolese, but also Nigerian, Zimbabwean, and Ghanaian–with 808 productions and funk-influenced synths. By placing his resilience at the centre of his work, Baloji reconciles all these influences to enrich his projects.
137 Avenue Kaniama is a construct of multiple narratives, designed to provide the listener with a cinematic experience of one singular sequence. A filmmaker in his own right – with a short film shot in his native Democratic Republic of Congo en route this spring– Baloji cites a diverse range of filmmakers as influential, including Raoul Peck (“I’m Not Your Negro”), Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”), and Robin Campillo (“Beats Per Minute”).
First and foremost, 137 Avenue Kaniama is a collection of up-tempo tracks designed to make you get up and sweat. The record kicks off with Glossine”, the medical term for tsetse flies bites (inducing the dreaded Sleeping Sickness), where he channels Bossa Nova baselines and Afrobeats. “Spotlight”, with its booming dopamine-inducing beat, is a reference to our screen-obsessed culture and “fear of missing out; our need to convince ourselves that we’re experiencing something real.”
There are more introspective moments on 137 Avenue Kaniama where Baloji examines struggles both personal and communal. ‘L’hiver indien’ is a faux-feel-good track– beneath its Afro-Disco exterior the song explores the disconnect of migrant communities in larger society. “Ensemble”– a Cameroonian Bikoutsi-infused Afro Trap track– is “a continental saying that means ‘we are together’ or ‘your issues are mine.’”
137 Avenue Kaniama also sees Baloji explore love in its varying forms. “Ciel d’Encre” is about the fathomless cycle of falling in and out of love with the wrong person: “when both of you know the love is gone but don’t dare to split,” while the spoken word piece “La Derriere Pluie/ Inconnue a Cette Adresse” (‘The Last Rain/ Unknown at This Address’), is about the devastation of separation from one’s parents. The artist describes the track as “the most honest record I ever made in my life.”