With their second album Kin Sonic, Jupiter and Okwess transcend the Congo’s unexplored musical heritage and dive into a pool of modernity. We’re invited to savour his latest recipe, the Okwess (‘food’ in the Kibunda language) which is the fruit of all the encounters and influences he has absorbed during his many journeys around the world. It’s a recipe based on perfect alchemy, enriched by contributions from Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, violinist Warren Ellis of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds and Robert del Naja, aka ‘3D’, of Massive Attack.
Del Naja’s input comes in the form of a unique and powerful album cover, the fee for which he decided to donate to an NGO called La Fondation Etoile du Congo de Madame Princesse Kibinda Mariam Rita, based in Lemba, the neighbourhood in Kinshasa where Jupiter lives. Rita, who is the daughter of a traditional chieftain, is very attached to her roots, and she’s given herself the mission to help homeless children who live on the streets, especially those of Lemba. Jupiter is the Foundation’s ambassador.
Jean-Pierre Bokondji, aka ‘Jupiter’ (the nickname has since become his official first name), was born in Kinshasa on the 16th December 1963, three years after the Congo was given its independence. He spent a large part of his childhood and adolescence living in Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania and East Berlin, where his father worked as an attaché at the Congolese embassy. But in 1979, at the age of 17, he left East Germany, returned to Kinshasa and threw himself into another dimension, the antithesis of the life he’d known until then.
Growing up in Germany, Jupiter listened to the best American soul: James Brown, The Jackson 5, The Temptations and Kool and the Gang. Then, back in the Congo, he discovered the ultra-dominant Congolese rumba style, but also a multitude of other rhythms and styles that vegetate in the.......