Baloji, whose name means “sorcerer” in Swahili, was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1978. At the age of 4, he arrived in Belgium with his father and grew up in Liège. As a young adolescent, he discovered hip-hop, a passion for tagging, rap & dance. At 15 he joined the Starflam Collective, a figurehead of Belgian hip-hop, who released a platinum selling disc “Survivant” (2001). Baloji quit the band in 2004 after and turned his back on music. It was a letter from his mother, whom he had not seen since 1981, and winning a poetry competition in Paris, that pushed him back to pursue the muse of music. His first solo recording, “Hotel Impala” (2008), as much of a response to the letter of his mother as it is a quest to find his identity, is coloured with influences of soul, afrobeat, and hip-hop. A certified Gold Record, the album won two Octaves de la music (a Belgian equivalent to the Grammys) as well as the Rapsat-Lelièvre Prize and the Brassens prize for lyric writing.
After the release of “Hotel Impala”, Baloji felt an urge to go to the Congo and start a deeper exploration of his roots. When he set out for Kinshasa, his original plan was to work with local musicians and rework the songs from his latest album. The results were so exciting that he ended up writing and recording 6 entirely new songs (while the remaining 7 songs are completely re-recorded and rearranged versions of tracks from “Hotel Impala”). Crammed Discs released the resulting “Kinshasa Succursale” album worldwide in 2011. It features contributions from some of the finest musicians from Kinshasa, including Konono No1 & Zaïko Langa Langa, as well as a contribution by Amp Fiddler. The album also contains two remixes, one by UK electronic producer déBruit, and another which features rising Ghanaian-American hip hop artist Blitz the Ambassador.
Baloji will be touring with his exciting, recently-formed live band: Orchestre de la Katuba.