I wrote about self-described Afropean rapper Baloji a few months ago and was geeked to discover such an interesting talent. Last night I got a chance to see him live. He touched stage at Joe’s Pub in the first of two shows he’ll be performing this month in NYC. I suggest you cop tickets now for his next show with Blitz the Ambassador and Les Nubians at S.O.B.’s on January 12. If he brings the same energy and heart he showed last night, you won’t be disappointed.

At Joe’s, in rust-colored suit and sneakers and sporting a uniquely shaped natural, Baloji barked ferocious French raps, showed off dance moves that at ranged from the precision movements you might see from a robot b-boy to playful pelvis-thrusts, and thankfully gave his band’s tight rhythm a long, long leash. They often took the audience on some really satisfying instrumental tangents.

He performed his tribute to Congolese independence (see below), “Le Jour D’Apres/Siku Yabaadaye (Independance Cha-Cha),” as well as party-starters like “Karibu Ya Bintou” which began with him promoting African unity in Swahili and simple guitar licks from his veteran bandmate, and wound up building to a club-shaking rager that lasted for nearly 10 minutes. The French/English language gap didn’t mean a thing.


Baloji in New York from Brett Johnson on Vimeo.

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