Blog February 11, 2021
Kiazi Malonga’s Hypnotic Grooves From Congo—By Way of the Bay

We have pretty well-established roles for the instruments—drums are responsible for the beat, upon which the guitar or vocalist or whoever else hangs the harmonics and tune. But Kiazi Malonga, a Congolese-American artist based on the West Coast, is flipping the script. On his new video, off his upcoming debut album, Malonga features the drum: front, center and holding your attention as a melodic line.

Like any good bandleader, Kiazi’s gives his guitarist a little showcase after three minutes or so, but there’s no doubt, this is drum music, folkloric, but playful. The rhythm is a blend of Bantu rhythms, showcasing the famed ngoma drum from Central Africa, but the mix of smiling faces and dancers makes it all so approachable, so viscerally charming.

Kiazi’s father was the world-renowned Congolese dance, drum and folkloric performance artist and educator Malonga Casquelourd, who established the Fua Dia Congo Performance Dance Company, the first African dance and drum camp in the U.S. and helped establish the Bay Area as a locus of African diaspora culture on the West Coast. You can see that openness, and interest in being an ambassador, in his son’s video and music.

Kiazi’s album is titled Tembo Kia Ngoma, which translates from Kikongo to English as “the wind of the drum,” it comes out March 5. Follow Kiazi on Facebook and Instagram to keep up.

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