Artist Profiles: Affro-Muzika

Affro-Muzika played soukous music. Led by Congolese singer-dancer-composer Shimita El Diego and fiery electric guitarist Nene Tchakou, the group included a dance crowd-friendly rhythm section as well as two onstage dancers, Aminatha and Judith. While Shimita and Nene both grew up in the bubbling early years of soukous in their Congo homeland and later developed it in Paris, the group’s album Rumba-Soukous was recorded in Berkeley and issued in the United States by Sunnyvale’s Cassava Records.

Singer-composer Shimita El Diego (born Lukombo Nzambe) was influenced by such African musical pioneers as Tabu Ley Rochereau and Joseph Kabasele, and during the 1980s collaborated with some of the seminal Zairean bands in the early years of soukous, then moved to Paris as soukous took hold there. He sang in the popular band Le Grand Zaiko, co-founded the Soukous Stars, and is the lead vocalist on one of the biggest soukous hit record, Lagos Night.

Soukous is a Congolese style that combines Afro-Cuban rumba rhythms with African jazz and dance, all anchored by insistent electric guitar patterns. It is sung in a number of Congolese languages as well as Spanish.

Soukous flourished in clubs and bars in Kinshasa and quickly spread throughout Africa, then to Paris where Shimita relocated in 1988, where he and guitarist Nene Tchakou helped pioneer the African-pop music explosion in Europe. The two musicians created Affro-Muzika, where dance rhythms are the bottom line, while Shimita sings original songs in Yoruba, Fantik, Ibo, Ashanti and Swahili.

Discography:

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Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for TelevisiĆ³n EspaƱola (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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