Imagine a night of African Rhyme and Rhythm, beautiful chocolate skinned dancers leading the motion of the music, voices adorned with nostalgia conveying the songs in immortal languages of Africa, as stories and lessons are infused in a melodious construction aimed at waking the spirit and longing for a living beauty of Afrocentrism, thereby birthing an experience that only Africa can give.
This description of a dream night is what Nkumu Katalay brings to the fore with fire whenever and wherever he mounts the stage, being it at the Apollo Theatre, Time Square or Lunatico Bar, he replicates and reinforces a taste of African bliss to his audience.
Nkumu Katalay Born in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now living in New York City is the RumbianFunk progenitor, his “Life Long Project” band from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo are continuously riding the waves with their infusion of African themed artistic expression into the quixotic nights of cities in America and beyond.
Nkumu’s music represents the blending of two worlds. For the past two decades, the artist has worked as an ensemble musician, choreographer, dancer, and speaker. He is an artist and orator whose main objective is to promote the beauty of connections in humanity.
Nkumu Katalay and The “Life Long Project,” a musical group with a focus on forms of music related to the Congolese culture even when found outside of the Congo are championing the inclusion of Africa’s creative contents into the mainstream entertainment hubs in New York.
The artist has also created CONTEMPTRA (contemporary & Traditional), a dance and style concept which combines contemporary and traditional Congolese dance moves and promotes both contemporary and traditional aesthetics. Overall, the artist is working on initiatives to promote cultural, social, and most importantly human values.
Recently on the 29th of April 2022 at Bar Lunatico situated at Bedford–Stuyvesant colloquially known as Bed–Stuy in New York city , the area of Brooklyn where legendary hip hop artists like Jay Z and Biggie Small grew up Nkumu Katalay and The “Life Long Project” band took their audience on a mesmerized journey of scintillating music.
They performed in two sets of an hour each from 9-10pm in the night till 11.30pm with some minutes break in-between the two performances.
The evening started with the rendition of the song Ebale ya zaire (aka masuwa) by Simaro Massiya Lutumba but in a Rumbianfunk touch from which he then transcended to his original tune called Sachez Que a mix of Congolese Rumba Soukous and Afro Cuban (salsa). That led into Congolese dancing section called Seben (in the world it’s known as Soukous, Kwassa-Kwassa, Zaiko, Lingala depending where you’re in Africa).
Then he transitioned to his structure of musical composition that he called Rumbianfunk (a groovy ensemble of melody, rhythm and soothing yet aggressive approach that sounds like America, Africa and Black America all meeting in one place) after which there was a break since one hour session it’s too short for all the dancing grooves.
“RumbianFunk is also my approach, It means Rumba with in my Funk, the two combo Rumba in Funk that’s how I look at all black culture in one, It carries that one tap of funk and yet has the traditional drum of Afro Cuban in a Congolese assemblage both traditional and contemporary in sense with grace notes of jazz but the aggressive nature of the Black American Gospel Music, how all these communicate is RumbianFunk” Nkumu Katalay explained to us in a Q and A session we were opportune to have with him.
After the break Katalay who had to be on bass since his regular bassists weren’t there started the second set with the song Congo4u a swingy Congolese Rumba yet sprinkled with American jazz gospel and funk mix, which was followed with the Congolese Soukous Seben then Nkumu Katalay and the band transitioned into a very traditional rhythm for percussive exploration which culminated the 2nd performance of an hour in a wave of soothing seismic adrenaline rush.
“I commend the owners of Lunatico for their efforts in promoting cross cultural experience in their spot,Lunatico is an intimate yet very friendly hub for artists with great vibes where communities are reminded to support the artist and they do so very well” He affirmed to us.