One to watch: Kokoko!

With their upcycled instruments and agit-punk beats, the Congolese collective kick against African music stereotypes

If Devo had been upcycling guitars and jamming at block parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they might have sounded something like Kokoko!. A product of Kinshasa’s DIY music scene, the group – who all sport matching yellow boiler suits – have brought their songs about identity and struggle to dance music festivals internationally, bowled over the stiff hipsters at South by Southwest and signed to the UK indie label Transgressive for their newly released debut album, Fongola.

They refer to their style as “tekno kintueni”, a raw party sound that is inspired by electronic music. Except, as they haven’t got the right machines to make it, they’ve invented their own. Their restless junkshop agit-punk is, like fellow Congolese band Konono No 1, the result of handmade instruments fashioned from trash, such as a xylophone/conga contraption made out of plastic containers and typewriter drums. “Survival fuels creativity,” they have said.

Kokoko! are one of a number of groups who are shaking off fusty stereotypes about African music, showing that it can be contemporary and isn’t always rooted in tradition. They’ve teamed up with French musician Débruit, who plays synths and produces, and whose shadowy club touches have helped make the band’s urgent tracks work for global dancefloors. They sound like a borderless future – and it’s yellow boiler suit-bright.

  • Fongola is out now on (Royal Mountain Records

Watch the video for Buka Dansa by Kokoko!


Kate Hutchinson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
One to watch: Benin City
The London trio’s second album is a rousing response to the city’s dying club scene

Killian Fox

02, Jun, 2018 @5:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Moonchild Sanelly
The South African star, a favourite of Beyoncé, blends the Durban sound of gqom with horny global beats

Kate Hutchinson

12, Sep, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Obongjayar
Mixing Afrobeat and electronics, Nigerian-born Londoner Steven Umoh makes music befitting a self-styled ‘king’

Tara Joshi

25, Jan, 2020 @1:59 PM

Article image
One to watch: Roses Gabor
After dazzling cameos for Gorillaz and SBTRKT, the Londoner is about to step into the spotlight with her debut album

Tara Joshi

09, Feb, 2019 @2:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Logic1000
The Berlin-based Australian DJ delivers beats and melody in abundance

Damien Morris

27, Nov, 2021 @2:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Sassy 009
A Scandi threesome whose playful, flute-laced dance tracks could prove the sound of this summer

Emily Mackay

05, May, 2018 @12:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Cookiee Kawaii
Blending Jersey club music, Chicago footwork and silky slow jams, the TikTok star is much more than one viral hit

Kadish Morris

10, Oct, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: O’Flynn
This young London producer delivers dancefloor dynamite on his debut album

Kate Hutchinson

31, Aug, 2019 @1:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Farai
This rising London duo will be warmly received by the ranks of the disaffected

Kate Hutchinson

17, Nov, 2018 @2:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Haai
The Australian DJ and producer’s latest EP is full of personality and dark, trippy dancefloor sounds

Kate Hutchinson

14, Dec, 2019 @2:00 PM