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Locko, urban pop from Cameroon with a universal vocation – RFI Musique

Singer Locko

© Xtincell and Alain Ngann

Become essential in Cameroon with his urban pop with r’n’b flavors, the singer Locko aims higher with his new album eraof international caliber and supported among others by the presence of his peers Tayc and Bramsito.

At a time when the music market seems to have taken on the appearance of a gigantic digital drip, with each artist sporadically releasing their new songs uploaded online without necessarily any overall logic, the way Locko s turns out to be almost anachronistic: since 2015, the Cameroonian has released two EPs and three albums, including era a few weeks ago. That is five projects, for a total of about sixty pieces, to which should be added a substantial number of features that he agreed to do for others!

Prolific, the almost thirty-year-old singer explains that he tries to catch in his net all the emotions that arise, the starting point of his creative process. To at that time, I’m going to go to my piano or my guitar, I’m going to play a few notes and if I find it relevant. I go to the studio to try to make a song out of it, seeing what kind of warmth I want to convey”he describes.

eranew album

Designed in Yaoundé and Paris during the pandemic, in collaboration with beatmakers renowned on the Cameroonian scene like Phillbill and with guests such as the Franco-Cameroonian Tayc and the Franco-Congolese Bramsito who play in the same category as Locko, era responds to a deep desire: “Find the balance to exploit my culture without distorting it and offer a unique sound that speaks to the whole world”summarizes its author who entrusts “having grown up in an environment where [il avait] difficult to accept” who he was musically. “For some, it went too far, it didn’t resemble the local colors. However, when you listen to my way of composing, the choice of percussions, melodies, it’s not just r’n’b and soul is impregnated with makossa, makouné”he continues.

His musical education was first in the family setting – among his more or less distant relatives include Koto Bass, a major musician who died in 1996 at the age of 33, and “uncle” Manu Dibango, to whom Locko pays homage through his song. ManuLuv. From his great vacations with his grandmother in Douala where an uncle taught him the guitar, the native of Yaoundé remembers that it was at the start, at the age of eight or nine, “more of a chore than anything else”. Blisters on fingers are no strangers to this…

At home, his father plays jazz, classical music. “Sometimes we sat down and for hours we listened to a symphony. He asked what I had noticed, what I liked”, recalls the singer who started as a teenager by rapping with a name: LA King, for Locko Artur King. With his group, he goes from school to school to clash with all those who are ready. “It helped me gain confidence”consider today the one who had “a bit ashamed” with his high voice with which he could interpret “comfortable” Celine Dion’s repertoire. “Not very hype with friends”he laughs.

Music, a passion

A brilliant student, he began his studies at the prestigious National Polytechnic School of Yaoundé. “I felt out of place. It was more a matter of social pressure”, says the singer. As the first boy of his siblings, it is up to him to face the heavy responsibilities incumbent on him since the death of his father, a Cameroonian army pilot, in a plane crash in 2003.

However, music runs through his veins; he feels it. “I had this passion in me and I didn’t know where to express it because my mother was afraid to let us go out, discover the world. So, I couldn’t go play in cabarets, do competitions”, continues Locko. The parade ? “Creating a Youtube channel was an opportunity for me from my bedroom to be able to show what I was doing.”

From 2010, he posts his videos, shot with a camera he bought thanks to a “little job”. He covers the hits of Gim’s, Singuila, Bruno Mars but also Cameroonian successes like Hey Father by Stanley Enow or African Granny by Duc-Z. His versions earned him the attention and encouragement of a community that quickly grew and pushed him to offer his own songs. Barely a year after his first single released at the end of 2014, he completed his first album Skyzo with which he settles in the Cameroonian musical landscape.

The success of his urban pop with local colors is measured today, among other things, by the number of views of his clips online, some of which have easily crossed the 10 million mark. To his credit, Locko also has concerts in Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Nigeria and Ethiopia, but also in France and Germany as well as in North America. “We can always do a lot more”, he assures. With a certain taste for challenges.

Locko era (Universal Music Africa) 2021

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