General Defao Makes A Comeback

Harris Mungai By Harris Mungai, 26th Jan 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Music>Forming A Band

After a few years out of the limelight,Congolese Rhumba musician comes back with a new album that features Kenya's Prezzo.

How I Got My Groove Back

That smooth seas don't make fine sailors is a perfect description of the life of popular Congolese musician General Defao Matumona.Unlike many other Lingala musicians of his age,Defao has managed to repackage himself to command the same respect as younger singers who joined the music world and incorporated other styles into rhumba,giving it a deep contrast to what it was in the 1980s or 1990s.In the spirit of making himself relevant to all generations,his newest album,Time Is Money,features Kenyan rapper Prezzo whose style has been described as a fusion of hip hop,street kapuka and genge.Defao is known for his great hits of yesterday,Sala Noki and Amour Scoulaire.He says now he understands collaborations in music differently.
" You see,Prezzo's fans will know of my existence when they listen to him,and my fans will know of him,that is what music is about. You share to grow yourself as an artist and the people who pay their money and spare their time to listen to you.You owe them that".He said in an interview. He has tasked his promoter only known as Rajab,to arrange a meeting with Nonini and Jua Kali-two of Kenya's greatest artists.The 10-track album,Defao says,encompasses everything that he is,as a person and the ghosts he has encountered as an artist.The December 24,2014, Defao performance at Ronalo Restaurant in downtown Nairobi was a testimony to what he had said in an emotional interview with a local TV a day before.
His stage presence,vocal prowess that spans perhaps a couple of octaves and,most visibly,his choreography,kept the crowd on its feet,and that didn't surprise Defao."Age has made everything better because I have seen music morph to what it is now in the face of Africans,Europeans,Americans and all of these are fused into the music I have today" he said.

Travel Plans

Defao's talent has given him the privilege to travel to 18 countries,some outside Africa,and he has not set his bars too modestly for this year."Not many African musicians have been to Asia and Australia,and that is where I am going".His tact and finesse could be explained by the daily routine of three continuous hours,two thirds dedicated to dancing and the other to his singing.
"As a band leader it is my duty to make the crowd genuinely vibrant,not the people I play with,and no matter how old you are or the number of times you have performed, you can't reach a point where you no longer worry about that and work towards it",he says.
He can't afford to under-perform because of the team he assembled for the album and the gigs related to that album.He has five Congolese musicians,including Lofombo Gode,an arranger,composer and an instrumentalist known for his collaboration with Pepe Kalle in the 90s.Many music enthusiasts will remember Lofombo,who was in Kenya in 1992 as a guitarist with Pepe Kalle's Grand Empire Bakuba band to campaign for the then ruling party,KANU.In Defao's team is also vocalist Manda Chant,who had a stint with Wenge Musica and with the original Orch Wenge Musica,a famed group that is believed to be one of the best to come out of Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1980s Then there is rapper of Wenge Musica Maison fame as well as Sam Chintu formerly of Koffi Olomide's Quartier Latin International.
Throughout the conversation,Defao acknowledges that he once hit a rough patch during his career and stay in Kenya-which included a brush with the law-but blocks questions about his difficult times with an emphatic statement: "That was 14 years ago. I moved on and taking me back there is just retrogressive, the story of how I have become a musician that I am today regardless of what happened in the past inspires me,too,not just people who listen and can understand what i sing about".In the last couple of years of his stay in Kenya,musical critics had remarked that Defao had taken a low profile,or was,perhaps 'spent',insinuations that Defao answers calmly."I had just gone to France,but I felt the music wasn't appreciated there",he says.
Like other Congolese musicians, Defao's observation is not from nothing.Most musicians from DR Congo have been locked out of their performing bases in Europe by activists who have a habit of picketing their concerts and who view them of being too affiliated to the government back at home. Most of the musicians have had to return to Africa looking for alternative bases,with Kenya being a favourite.

Local Talent

In Kenya,Defao found his footing.He describes Kenyans as a 'reachable and welcoming' lot."I feel respected here,like some sort of very important person",he says jokingly.According to Defao,Kenya has many talented musicians who can reap the fruits of their labour if they are willing to go the extra mile."I wish they could learn to use bands when performing.Having pre-recorded music doesn't allow you to connect with your audience because when there is a scratch,you have to stop and that is annoying".He adds.


Music, Music Review, Musical

Meet the author

author avatar Harris Mungai
I developed an interest in writing when I was in elementary school and since then this passion keeps on burning in me.Thank you Wikinut for this chance to express myself here.

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author avatar Carol Roach
26th Jan 2015 (#)

I love your stories about africa, the custom, the land, the music the sole of Africa

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author avatar Harris Mungai
26th Jan 2015 (#)

Thank you Carol for that comment,It serves as an encouragement for me.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
27th Jan 2015 (#)

great music too from South Africa and other nations there's a song called Feso Jaie!

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