Kwassa kwassa

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For the album by Congolese musician Kanda Bongo Man, see Kwassa Kwassa (album).

Kwassa kwassa (or kwasa kwasa) is a music subgenre of soukous[1] and a dance rhythm from the Democratic Republic of the Congo that started in the 1970s where the hips move back and forth while the hands move to follow the hips. It was very popular in Africa in the late 1980s.

The dance was created by Pepe Kalle and popularized by his soukous music videos, as well as the videos of Kanda Bongo Man, Viva La Musica, and other Congolese musicians.


The words kwassa kwassa may have come from the French quoi ça? ("what is this?").


In the 1980s, Kanda Bongo Man, a Paris-based artist, pioneered fast, short soukous tracks suitable for play on dance floors everywhere and popularly known as kwassa kwassa after the dance moves popularized by his and other artists' music videos. This music appealed to Africans and to new audiences as well. Artists like Diblo Dibala, Jeannot Bel Musumbu, Mbilia Bel, Yondo Sister, Tinderwet, Loketo, Rigo Star, Madilu System, Soukous Stars and veterans like Pepe Kalle and Koffi Olomide followed suit. Soon Paris became home to talented studio musicians who recorded for the African and Caribbean markets and filled out bands for occasional tours.

A slower version of this genre has been created and popularized by Koffi Olomide and his band Quartier Latin. Their songs have enjoyed massive airplay throughout Africa in countries like Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Senegal and others. Metavo is also very popular in South Africa.

This kind of beat is referenced in the 2008 song "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" by American indie rock band Vampire Weekend.[2]