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Le Rail Band met Mory Kante
African Classics ............... SLCD 125 2007 SHEER
3. Mamadou Bitiqui
5. Mariba Yassa
6. Dugu Kamelemba
Antoine Koffi Olomide, who is also known by a plethora of other names such as Large Degaire, Akram Bourge, Gralibane Maji, Le Grande Mopao, Le Shakespeare Du Zaire, Nkolo Lupemba, Mokonzi etc etc, is arguably the most talented African singer, producer and composer of the 1990s..
He has dominated music charts across the continent and abroad with a combination of his deep baritone voice, which barely caresses the microphone, sophisticated arrangements, blending old school rumba and smooth keyboard melodies as well as a searing guitar climax. His compositions are classy and appeal to a wide spectrum of fans worldwide. His songs delve deep into a wide variety of topics including love, politics, technology and even religion.
In each song he discusses his feelings about such diverse topics while expressing confused feelings about mythical beasts and dream like fantasies. Names of famous people like Bill Gates, Silvio Berlusconi, Saddam Hussein and even George Weah are mentioned. Indeed He himself said you have to understand the words to fully appreciate his songs.
More so, he has a keen sense of fashion and extensive sapeur wardrobe as well as a personality to match. While on tour He is accompanied by his 18 piece band : Quartier Latin which consists of a bevy of talented musicians and his dancers fondly referred to as the Koffiettes. He has wowed fans in Africa, Europe and North America with his stage presence, and his ability to turn heads and create a raucus. Multitudes of fans follow him wherever he performs creating record attendance figures.
He is now firmly entrenched as one of the most popular performers ever in South Africa following a brilliant performance there in 1998. More recently ,He performed at the Olympia in Paris. Tabu Ley is the only other African musician to have performed there. A new album and video "Olympia live " with his live performance at the venue has been released.
He was born in Kinshasa ,Congo in 1958. His father was Congolese while his mother was West African, which explains his name. He was born into a family where education took precedence above everything else. He has earned a bachelors degree in Economics and a masters in Mathematics from the University of Paris. While pursuing his academic goals he honed his musical talent with a guitar which he borrowed from a neighbour. He commenced his musical career as a songwriter.
In the late 1970s he joined Papa Wemba's band Viva La Musica. Here He learned his vocal and stage techniques. He launched his solo career in the mid 80s and has turned out to be one of the biggest success stories in African music. Koffi, though well known in Zaire was virtually uknown outside Zaire before the 1990s. Then came albums like Papa Bonheurre and Elle et Moi and Koffi was sudenly a hot commodity all over Africa. The slower types of Rhumba which were in decline since the era of TPOK Jazz and Afrisa ended were now back in fashion thanks to Koffi and his Quartier Latin.
Since then His discography has continued to expand. He has continued to release one hit after the next while being faithful to his self proclaimed Tcha Tcho style. Tcha Tcho is a slower, more sensuos kind of Soukous . In the early 90s came albums like Noblese Oblige and Magie and Koffi appeared to be going from strength to strength as his popularity shot straight through the roof. In 1995 He released his most succesful album, V12.
The following year He collaborated with one of his mentors Papa Wemba to produce the album Wake Up . Then came the controversial La Loi which sold widely largely due to its controversial nature. In 1998 He collaborated with Bana Ok Legend, Josky kiambukuta to produce the album Ngounda . Just the thought of those two legends collaborating on a CD sent millions of music fans flocking to music stores to buy the album. And they were not dissapointed.
The combination of Koffi's smooth baritone and Josky's effervescent vocal skills made the CD a worthwhile investement by any account. Towards the late nineties, he changed to the more vigorous and dancable "Ndombolo" dance style which has taken the continent by storm, to the point where He is now referred to in some circles as the King of "Ndombolo ".
This brand of music has come under criticism amid charges that it is obscene, and has been banned in Mali and Cameroun among other countries . This did not stopped Koffi who has taken Ndombolo to new heights with albums such as Droit de Veto and Attentat, released at the dawn of the new millenium.
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