Afropop Worldwide

Afropop Worldwide logo

Baloji’s New Video Offers Astronauts, Social Critique

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 3.52.51 PM

Nunchucks and steam-punk astronauts, alongside lyrics about the exploitation intertwined in rare earth mineral mining, and footage from a real funeral: Baloji’s self-directed video for “Capture” really covers the spectrum. But then, he’s a rapper who fuses Congolese rumba with Latin music, dub, and of course hip-hop, so he’s pretty well experienced at bringing together disparate threads.

Although Baloji now lives in Belgium, he shot the clip in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the rapper was born and returns to annually, and the video is an intimate, affectionate portrait of the country.

When last we saw Baloji back in April, he was playing a concert in New York that was called “Futuristic Africa,” a theme this video certainly nods toward. It’s not just the Kongo Astronauts, the street-performing spacemen who lurk in the video’s shadows. The lyrics to “Capture” refer to the country’s status as the world’s source for rare earth minerals that have become essential to the tech that characterizes the 21st century, and how the pursuit of this mineral holy grail has been a mixed blessing at best.

It’s certainly not that Baloji is a Luddite. He told that, “Everything I do in music is computer-based–and 40 percent of my computer and my phone came from Congolese soil. The way Africans perceive Apple devices, they are the new Chanel or Louis Vuitton logos: they represent access to certain freedoms, to certain European perspectives.”

In this vein, Baloji has an EP coming out in October called 64 Bits and Malachite, malachite being a rare earth mineral without a utility for electronics. Baloji’s found a use for it though, and is—polymath that he is—launching an eyewear line made of malachite later this year.

Keywords ,