Koffi Olomide was Congolese music royalty in the 1990s, making hit after hit with his excellent band Quartier Latin and popularizing a unique style of ndombolo dance music. He’s back with a new single and video called “Selfie.” It is a joyful comeback, complete with slinky, classic ’90s-style ndombolo and seben grooves, tons of sunglasses, musical stops coinciding with camera clicks and exaggerated poses, tablet group-selfies, and a goofy dancer in purple suspenders dancing with a selfie-stick.
Many Congolese music fans agree that Koffi’s music and image have declined steadily over the past 20 years. Is this classic ’90s–style song and creative video an effort to regain relevance in swiftly changing times? Or a hilarious parody of the narcissism of selfie-mania? Or both? If you understand Lingala and you watched this video, let us know your opinion on Twitter at @afropopww.
While he has definitely maintained a place for himself in Congolese pop music throughout the 2000s, Koffi lost many fans due to various controversies. He has been called out for self-aggrandizing gestures, for example referring to himself as the Pope; he went to trial in 2012 for beating up one of his producers; his European concerts were boycotted by protesters, known as combattants, who view Olomide as the mouthpiece of Congolese president Kabila; he was accused of raping and sequestering his own dancers in France; some Congolese music fans complained of moral corruptness in his videos, music and lifestyle in general. For more, see this article from RFI in 2012.
A recent example of his posturing and “moral corruptness” is the booty-worshiping, gun-toting advertisement Koffi filmed for his brand new, four disc, 39-track album 13iéme Apôtre. The title translates as “13th Apostle.” The blasphemy continues, and we are enjoying every minute of it!