Over the past few years in rediscovering Congolese rumba I have been greeted with the exclamation "HUIT KILOS!!" several times during the Sebene, in various compositions that i've heard . I eventually came to realize through a little bit of google work that members of the various bands were chanting the name of one very talented guitarist who has brought magic to many songs that I love.
HUIT KILOS' BIOGRAPHY (Courtesy of www.huitkilos.com):
Huit Kilos, guitar virtuoso and composer, started making music on a guitar made from a cooking oil can and a piece of wood. At first playing secretly, as his father was opposed to Huit’s becoming a guitarist, the young boy prevailed when one day his family, to their surprise, saw him playing the guitar on television! He was only 12 years old. Huit Kilos went on to become Africa's best known lead guitarist — a leader in the creation of the Congolese and Soukous guitar sounds that swept Africa and Northwestern Europe with their immense popularity.
As lead guitarist for a number of top bands, Huit Kilos is one of the handful of Congolese studio musicians who has given shape to the highly distinctive Soukous sound. He has recorded as a studio guitarist on over 100 albums and rocked the most demanding dance crowds in live performances around the world.
During a musical career now spanning more than 35 years Huit Kilo’s soukous guitar style is recognized as one of the central shaping factors of Zaire/Congolese pop music. Huit has been the lead guitarist for many of the greatest names of Congolese music:
Papa Wemba's Viva La Musica,
Tabu Ley Rochereau and Afrisa International
Langa Langa Stars,
Victoria Eleison with King Kester Emeneya,
Dindo Yogo’s Macchi,
Bella Soum with Ngouma Lokito,
Tabu Ley is of course Huit Kilo’s longest and most renowned association. As Tabu Ley Rochereau is often credited with being the creator of soukous, one would be remiss in not crediting lead guitarist Huit Kilos as a seminal force in that creative process. Together, Tabu Ley and Huit Kilos brought rumba and soukous music to the western world, and made Tabu Ley Rochereau one of the all-time greatest stars not only of Congolese music, but of African music as a whole.
After working together across Africa for three years, in 1988 Tabu Ley Rochereau and Huit Kilos moved to Paris to spearhead soukous’ historic drive to European popularity, most notably in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. While focusing most of his efforts on Tabu Ley Rochereau’s Afrisa International Orchestra, in Paris Huit Kilos also recorded with many African-Parisian bands on numerous hit records targeting principally the European market.
Listen to a few selections with him playing lead. The first time I noticed his name was on the song Mokili by the not so known band Les Noirs. Then again on Yoko Toli by Etumba Na Ngwaka. Since I've heard more that I posses in my hard drive but I can't find them all now because I can't remember the songs but I will add them to the playlist as I come across them. Enjoy these three selections: