Congo Kinshasa Updates - Article # 3

"Bozi-Boziana: Zaiko to Anti-Choc

With a String of Beautiful Women"

Written by Martin Sinnock

 

Editor's note: This feature has been published in the highly recommended world music print publication "The Beat" (http://www.getthebeat.com)

 

AfricaSounds.com is pleased to present this third installment of the Congo Kinshasa Updates by Congolese music authority Martin Sinnock.  We have received terrific feedback from the previous two installments and are pleased to work in collaboration with The Beat magazine in presenting these archives on the internet, which allows us to include many photos and album covers not previously possible in the print medium due to space constraints.  Working with Martin Sinnock, we plan to continue to showcase his Congo Kinshasa updates on AfricaSounds.  We also recommend that readers subscribe to The Beat magazine to follow the latest from Martin Sinnock as he reviews contemporary Congolese music and reissues.

This third article focuses on one of our favorite artists, Bozi Boziana, and his group Anti Choc and concludes with a discography with album photos.  This feature gives an update on one of the Kinshasa sapeursí favourite bands and originally appeared in The Beat Volume 15 No. 5 published in 1996.  Since that time Bozi Boziana has continued to release fine music and remains one of Martin Sinnock's favorite artists.   

 
Editorial Introduction - Article # 3 of the Congo Kinshasa Updates
   
Bozi Boziana and Anti-Choc

"Benz" Bozi Boziana is another of the Kinshasa singers blessed with a highly stylized and fragile voice. In the last issue of this magazine I tried to explain that the voices of some of the most popular singers from the Congo can occasionally sound strained or even discordant. To some extent learning to appreciate some of these singers is an "acquired taste syndrome", but in the case of Bozi I would be the first to admit that he has a "difficult" voice. His is a voice which can sound precariously unmusical and dangerously close to being out of tune. It is also one of the most emotive and satisfying voices within the genre of "Rumba Lingala" and the music of Anti-Choc is some of the most potent and addictive to emanate from Kinshasa.

Mbenzu Ngamboni Boskill known as "Bozi Boziana" is a veteran of legendary Kinshasa bands Bamboula de Papa Noel, Minzoto Sangela (an off-shoot of Minzoto Wella Wella), ZaÔko Langa Langa, Isifi Lokole, Yoka Lokole, Langa Langa Stars and Choc Stars. It was in 1974, when he initially joined ZaÔko, that the name Bozi Boziana first came to prominence. Yet shortly after this he broke away to form Isifi Lokole, along with Papa Wemba and Evoloko Jocker. This group in turn split into two with Boziís faction renaming itself Yoka Lokole. This was another short-lived project as in 1976 Bozi returned to ZaÔko. In 1981, at the instigation of producer Verckys Kiamuangana, Bozi along with Evoloko, Dindo Yogo. Esperant, Djuna Djunana, Djo Mali and (a little later) Roxy Tshimpaka created Langa Langa Stars. With so many significant characters in the group it was inevitable that a power struggle would ensue which is why Bozi eventually found his way into Ben Nyamaboís Choc Stars (see last issue of The Beat magazine for their story). By this time Bozi had become a legend to the Congolese and it was now quite clear that he was always destined to lead his own band and in November 1985 he broke away from Choc Stars to form Orchestre Anti-Choc. The name "Anti-Choc" was deliberately chosen because it retained the continuity of the ZaÔko name (they were referred to as Tout-Choc Anti-Choc ZaÔko Langa Langa) whilst at the same time implying that the new group would be an antidote to the Choc Stars sound (Bozi had departed Benís group with a certain amount of acrimony and initially he actually called his new group Anti-Choc Stars).

Original Cover from "The Beat" - Volume 15 Number 5 which featured the Bozi Boziana article

 

Original pages from The Beat Magazine

   
The band, formed by Bozi, Fifi Mofude and Gladia found early success with the help of vocalists Djo Nolo, Kalume, Koffi Alibaba and a guitarist with his own distinctive style which had been developed in Lita Bemboís Orchestre Stukas. This guitarist, Dodoly, was known as "the sewing machine" (la machine a coudre) because his fingers moved so fast over the fretboard and his unique style was retained by the Anti-Choc guitarists even after Dodoly defected the band in the early nineties. Like all Kinshasa bands Anti-Choc have suffered a certain amount of turmoil during the last few years.

The one area in which Bozi has been unique is as the prime motivator of the female voice in what has always been an essentially male domain. As well as being a vehicle for one-time OK Jazz singer Joly Detta it was Boziís Anti-Choc who in 1988 more-or-less launched the wonderful Deesse Mukangi. Deesse who, like Joly Detta, had served her preliminary apprenticeship in Mimi Leyís Afro-International rapidly found success alongside Bozi and in 1989 was voted Female Singer of the Year. She is the chanteuse destined to be possibly one of Africaís greatest female stars once her potential has been fully realised. When she departed Anti-Choc in 1991 she embarked on a solo career that has still to be successfully formulated. Despite releasing two good solo albums (one Paris style soukous, the other a melange of styles), some great session work and frequent guest appearances (notably with Tabu Ley and Koffi Olomide) the expected impact of Deesse is still to come. Her imminent third album, "Etape de Montagne" will hopefully elevate her to a deserved international prominence.

Bozi has used several other female vocalists over the years including Deesseís close friend and current co-vocalist Marthe Lamugenia, Deluza, Ngimbi Yespe and Maoussi Solange. However his most reknowned discoveries after Deesse have been Scola "Nza Wissa" Miel and Betty "Bis" Kindobika who, as a duo, were voted Revelation of the Year in 1991. This immensely popular pair were separated in 1994 when Scola was sensationally "poached" by Koffi Olomide leaving Betty to be voted Best Female Star of the Year. It was a short-lived separation as Scola never quite gelled in Koffiís Quartier Latin and in 1995 she returned to a line-up that, in addition to Betty, now included another two female singer/dancers Mi-Flo la Rose and the radiant beauty Lili Nedule (daughter of Papa Noel), plus occasionally Mimi Ciel (known affectionately as Mimi Dance).

In addition to the continuing line of female co-vocalists, and integral to the Anti-Choc sound for many years, was the talent of one of the Congoís best animateurs Wally Ngonda. Wally joined Anti-Choc in 1987 where he remained at Boziís side providing vocal harmony, animations and dance impetus and where he launched his own career fronting first Anti-Choc in Boziís absence and then Choc Renove followed by Chic-Choc Renove until his death in 1995. The three "solo" albums that he released were all good (particularly the third "Mody" - Sterns STCD 1063 ) and retained the Anti-Choc style that Wally had helped develop.

Other major contributors to the Anti-Choc sound over the years have been guitarist Rigo Star who in Dodolyís absence has been the bandís musical director on frequent recordings. Another long-time member was Ngouma Lokito, a truly creative bass guitarist who appeared on many of the bandís biggest successes before being tempted away to the commercial and unadventurous Paris Soukous of Soukous Stars. Another hot bass player, who also plays rhythm guitar, Aimedo Aziza stayed in London after the bandís two sensational 1990 appearances where he has used his musical talent to make a successful career backing any visiting artist unable to bring their own musicians. Other recent musicians in the Anti-Choc roster are guitarists Aspro, Bolo, Nono-Monama, Lidjona, Burkina-Faso, Janvier and Micha; bass guitarists Manglota, Sadico and Chikito; drummers Vedo and Trocadero; singers Djo Lili and Jackson Benz; and Boziís current male co-vocalist Deo Brondo and animateur Lapino. And for a while during the late eighties the vocal line-up was augmented by Lidjo Kwempa and Cele le Roi both of whom would later appear beside Papa Wemba in Viva la Musica.

Bozi himself seems to have suffered some ill-health (at one point he was reported to have died, but that is a fairly common Kinshasa tabloid knee-jerk reaction to any illness) and his personal relationships have been subject to much journalistic scrutiny. Of particular interest to the Congolese public thirsty for "Biloba-loba" (gossip) is the influence affected by Boziís long-time partner (and now wife) Fathy, combined with the possible relationships that he may have had with his co-vocalists. Also Bozi has suffered major musician defections. In addition to losing guitarist Dodoly in the early nineties he has suffered the loss of animateur and co-vocalists Wally Ngonda and long-term member Fifi Mofude both of whom have now sadly died. Anti-Choc have however continued to release excellent recordings and despite yet another set of defections they have two superb discs on the market during the summer of 1996, "Pere Noel Confiance" and "Mbanzi ya Gamundele". Also both Bozi and Anti-Choc veteran Koffi Alibaba make vital contributions to the Mide Pablinto release "Dilemme", one of the yearís biggest successes.

 

Following are some recommended recordings (mostly recently released CDs) featuring Bozi Boziana at different stages of his career

Bozi with ZaÔko Langa Langa:-

Diana ya Mama - 1976/77/78 (CD release - NG018) Great new compilation of rare old ZaÔko tracks featuring Bozi.

Clan Langa Langa - Bilombe Bakutani (CD release - FDB 300234) Contains the superb ZaÔko album "Tangi/Avis" featuring vocalists Evoloko, Bozi, Chekedan & Míbuta Mashakado backed by Manuaku, Djo Mali and Ilo Pablo. Also includes all of the classic "Trio Nyo-Bi-We" session (Nyoka Longo, Bimi Ombale and Papa Wemba).

La Guerre des Stars (CD release - EPP 14) Another classic "nzong-zing" (super-session) from the mid eighties between Esperant, Wemba, Bozi and Lita Bembo. Two bonus tracks are the early Anti-Choc hit "Motambo" and a Yenga-Yenga track.

ZaÔko Langa Langa (CD release - FDB 300241) CD issue of the "Oldies and Goodies 1974-1978" LP with three extra tracks.

Bozi with Langa Langa Stars:-

Langa Langa Stars will be the subject of a future article.

Bozi with Choc Stars:-

La Belle Epoque (CD release - Ngapy 404091) Classic Bozi material with Choc Stars (circa 1984).

Bozi with Anti Choc:-

Le Grand Pere Bozi de LíAnti-Choc - La Reine de Sabah (LP - KL016 , CD release CBC CD 15)) Late eighties LP with Joly Detta singing La Reine de Sabah and Betheleem two Anti-Choc anthems.

Bozi Boziana, La Princesse Deesse and Anti-Choc - Doukoure (LP - Ngapy 0988) During the late eighties Bozi teamed Joly Detta and Deesse and came up with one of my favourite Anti-Choc sessions. In addition to the fabulous vocal combination this disc has Ngouma Lokitoís best "up-front" bass playing.

Le Grand Pere Bozi-Boziana & LíAnti-Choc - Ba Bokilo (LP - 0901B, CD release- CDMA 4048) Another brilliant teaming of Joly Detta and Deesse. Features "Ba Bokilo" (the beautiful family) and Dodolyís "Lelo Makambo-Lobi Makambo (Wabelo Rango)" (problems today, problems tomorrow).

Bozi Boziana, Joly Detta and Deesse & LíAnti-Choc - Zongela Ngai (LP - AMG 001) Zongela Ngai (Come back to me), 1989 and possibly Deesseís finest moment so far as she lets rip " La Sirene", with Dodolyís dazzling guitar work and Wallyís dance animation "Salam Alekoum/Lipapa ya Wara".

Bozi Boziana & LíAnti-Choc - Concert a la Mutualite de Paris (LP - MA 4038) One of the better releases that featured a substitute female voice. This time Thiza Lamounguena joins Bozi and Wally and proves her worth. Great creative use of keyboard in a genre that does not usually cope well with the intrusion.

Bozi Boziana & LíAnti-Choc - Dansez Nza Wissa (LP MA4040) Boziís discovery of Scola Miel took the band into the nineties with the new dance sensation "Nza Wissa" . It also presented a hot new female vocal duo Scola and Deesse.

Bozi Boziana & LíAnti-Choc - LíAvenir (LP - FDB 100068) With Deesse having ducked out in 1991 to pursue her solo career Bozi re-invented his female duo by discovering Betty Bis to sing and dance alongside Scola. Rigo Star sits in to play solo and co-arrange with Bozi.

Bozi Boziana & LíAnti-Choc - Coupe Monte (CD release - FDB 300108) Bozi, Wally, Scola and Betty backed by Dodoly and Aspro on solo guitar with accompaniment from Rigo Star and Manglotaís bass. One of the bandís most successful recordings.

Bozi Boziana & LíAnti-Choc - 7e Anniversaire (CD release - FDB 300005) 1993 and another consistently high quality and exciting performance.

Bozi Boziana - Ma Raison díEtre (CD release - JM 91083) A hot 1994 session with the band in dynamic dance mode and proving that they could still cut it even without Dodoly and Wally Ngonda in the line-up. Solo guitar this time from Burkina-Faso and this disc introduces a new singer Mimi Dance (Mimi Ciel).

Bozi Boziana & LíAnti Choc Stars - Ba Mere ya Circuit (CD release - CD 61405) I hated this at first as Bozi replaced the customary dazzling guitar interplay with three synth keyboards. However my own bias against the use of electric keyboard in Congolese music (I did once consider strongly advising Mobutu himself to decree that Congolese groups should be barred from their use) was eventually overcome by repeated listening and by the gradual appreciation of the sensitive use of Boziís plaintive voice backed by another of my favourite singers, Djenga Ka Ye Mei "Esperant", formerly a colleague of Boziís in Langa Langa Stars. This was probably Esperantís final recording before his sad death in February 1995. Also includes the voice of Betty and production/keyboards from OK Jazz associate JB Nsamela.

Bozi Boziana - Les Yeux dans les Yeux (CD release - MUS 1004) Another subtle subdued set with less emphasis on keyboard than "Ba mere ya circuit". The band is intact here with three guitarists combining tastefully with one keyboard. A beautiful vocal performance here with Betty and Mi-Flo in fine form.

Bozi-Boziana & LíAnti-Choc - Pere Noel Confiance (FDB 300271) Christmas 95/New Year 96, Scola has returned to Anti-Choc, and this highly anticipated disc does not disappoint. Mixture of composers with two songs from Bozi, two from Scola and one each from Sadico, Micha, Deo, Koffi and Lapino. The band had spent the best part of 1995 in Europe with concerts receiving mixed attendance from the notoriously fickle Congolese audience and yet they still managed to record a classic album. Introduces the new dance "Kizunga Nzunga" and features a return appearance by Rigo Star.

Bozi Boziana & LíAnti-Choc - Mbanzi ya Gamundele (Gefraco MC 003) The latest to hit the marketplace (summer 1996) catches Anti-Choc before the death of Fifi Mofude and before the defection of bass guitarist and chef díorchestre Sadico, veteran vocalist Koffi Alibaba, soloist Micha Brown, and drummer Trocadero Pablo. Another fine release in which Bozi, far from hogging centre stage, gives the girls another opportunity to take some of the lead vocals. Whilst it has always been a fact that in the past Deesse was THE female voice of Anti-Choc and all the subsequent females were merely dancers who sang back-up it has now become evident that each of the remaining girls has finally found their voice. Whilst Scola is absent (this was recorded in 1994 while she was with Koffi Olomide) this disc goes a long way to confirm that the spectacularly lively Betty Bis is now also a great singer as well as being one of the Congoís most animated dancers. All songs composed by Bozi.