Jupiter & Okwess
It was in Germany, where he grew up, that Jupiter Bokondji awakened to music, while listening to classic American black music artists such as James Brown, The Jackson 5, The Temptations or Kool and the Gang. But it was only later, when he returned to his native Congo, when he discovered the local style of rumba, that the desire to be a musician really arose. However, it was not an easy decision, due to the opposition of his family, especially his father, a career diplomat, who did not want to see his son in such an uncertain life. At just 18 years old, he nevertheless decides to dedicate himself body and soul to the dream of music. To achieve this he lived on the street, earning money by performing at funerals. The nickname of The Rebel General comes from this time, by which he is still known today. In the early 80s, he joined the Famous Black band, later renamed Bongo Folk and which he still accompanies today, now under the name Okwess. It is composed by a group of musicians from different provinces of Congo, who assume themselves as defenders of Bofenia Rock, a style that recovers traditional Congo melodies, mixing them with more urban rhythms, to build a strong political narrative against all types of oppression. Despite his long career, it was only in 2013 that he recorded his first album, Hotel Univers, following the documentary Jupiter’s Dance, which years earlier had made him known to the world. This was followed in 2017 by Kin Sonic, with the participation of Warren Ellis on violin and Damon Albarn on piano. And last year, he released Na Kozonga, which he now finally presents in the Festival MED.