October 24, 2020
The Congolese-Belgian rapper’s debut album is a hypnotic testament to her powers of survival
One to watch: Lous and the Yakuza
Gore, the title of Lous and the Yakuza’s debut album, is more philosophy than aesthetic. It represents Marie-Pierra Kakoma’s acceptance that the worst has surely passed; a camp encapsulation of horrors endured that she can only laugh at, lest she cry. She was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After her mother was imprisoned for two months during the country’s 1998 war, the family moved to a violent Brussels neighbourhood. They went back again after six years in Rwanda, in the brutal aftermath of genocide. Despite raising her on Chopin and Mozart, Kakoma’s parents cut her off when she wanted to pursue music over medicine. During a period of homelessness, she was assaulted and considered sex work for survival.
Somehow, Kakoma’s spirit and ambition endured. Having little to lose, she refused to compromise in pursuit of her dream career, meticulously raking over the terms of her Columbia contract and refusing their proposed collaborators until she found an ideal match in Spain’s El Guincho, who produced Rosalía’s breakout, El Mal Querer. The two records share a supreme sense of elegance, but that’s all. Kakoma sings and raps with lace-like intricacy and a hypnotic sense of melody as El Guincho teases skittish trap and reverential vocals into a holy atmosphere. As serene as it sounds, her French lyrics don’t skimp on the realities of her life and the post-colonial conditions that created them. “I want people to understand the reality of a young black woman living in Europe,” she says. In that sense, “gore” feels like a pointed understatement.
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