Jupiter & Okwess: “Benanga”

Congolese-born, German-raised vocalist-lyricist Jean-Pierre Bokondji is back in his native DRC and performs these days as Jupiter. Jupiter’s time in Europe as a teenager shed light on his affection for American soul and funk before returning to Kinshasha at age seventeen, where he fell in love with Congolese rumba and other traditional African rhythms. Bridging traditional and modern, Congolese and Western, Jupiter and his band Okwess (kibunda for “food”) forge a melting pot of musical styles as a platform to discuss life, politics, the poignant past and what we can do to move ahead.

The latest offering from Jupiter & Okwess takes form as their second full-length, Kin SonicKin Sonic features nearly a dozen new tunes that draw from a gaggle of influences (both sonically and lyrically) as well as contributions from Damon Albarn, 3D of Massive Attack (who designed the album’s artwork), and Warren Ellis of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds. Jupiter & Okwess are in the middle of an extensive international tour, wrapping up in October with dates in the US and Mexico.

There’s a lot to digest with this album so let’s get right to it; here’s Jupiter & Okwess’s tempo-jumpin’ jab at diplomacy and royalty enriched by the masses, “Benanga”!

Jack Anderson (Host Monday-Wednesday 8-11pm, Saturday 6-10am)

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