Liner Notes: Episode 7: Les Mangelepa v. Super Mazembe

Aired live April 29, 2015, and available here online

Tonight I have a special treat for you: a good old-fashioned battle of the bands: Les Mangelepa versus Super Mazembe! Both bands got their start in the Congo, but they eventually made their way to Kenya and became huge stars there. As a result, their rhythms and vocal harmonies have East African influences that are a bit different from what I’ve played so far, and sometimes they sing in Swahili.

Les Mangelepa on safari

Les Mangelepa goes on safari

Super Mazeme on safari too

Super Mazembe: “We can do a safari too!”

I’m counting on you, my listeners, to judge the last band standing tonight. I have very few songs by these two bands—no more than 30 each—but I adore so many of them. And I’m not alone, bandeko. I have a certain friend who has begged me many times for a certain Mangelepa song…a song I played only once for him. I myself first heard it on a defunct podcast, and I hunted down the DJ online and pleaded for a copy, which he graciously sent me.

And it made me higher than…Mt. Kenya!!

(Speaking of getting high, I nearly passed out when I learned recently that Les Mangelepa are still singing in Kenya’s nightclubs!! That means I don’t need a time machine but rather a ticket to Nairobi, and pronto.)

And you need to join the club, if you haven’t already, because I guarantee it’s great music. Especially because some would call me a music snob (I prefer “connoisseur”). You see, for some people, food is everything, and if the blend of starches and oils and spices ain’t just right, guess who don’t wanna eat?

Music is the same for me. In my humble opinion, there are so, so many Congolese songs where the elements come together in a perfect blend to make not just a dish but a five-course meal. And so many of these songs are never boring: never monotonous or monotone. They have unexpected twists and turns. With this first song I’m about to share with you, I fell in love from the very first note. First up, in the orange bellbottoms with matching suede platform shoes—don’t forget, y’all, it was the 70s—Les Mangelepa with “Walter.” Let the battle begin!

Les Mangelepa in bell-bottomed finery....it was the 70s, y'all!

Les Mangelepa in bell-bottomed jumpsuited finery….it was the 70s!


Next up, wearing polka dot bellbottoms, matching vests, and white hats: Super Mazembe strikes back with their own tribute to their man, “Kasongo.”

The guys of Super Mazembe goofing off

Super Mazembe: “We are clearly not afraid of Les Mangelepa…BRING IT ON!!!”


Les Mangelepa has changed their clothes! They’re now wearing shiny red jumpsuits with matching sweatbands and looking cool as ever, as they prepare to take us to Zimbabwe with “Harare.”

Les Mangelepa

Les Mangelepa: “A battle with Mazembe, eh? We already won, just getting dressed.”


Super Mazembe returns to the stage decked out in sky blue bellbottoms, platform shoes, and pageboy caps. And no shirts this time, folks. O la la! And saying they can be cool too, with this next one, “Samba.”

Super Mazembe

Super Mazembe: “Our beats will crush Les Mangelepa like this tractor…or whatever it is!”


So, can you name tonight’s champion??

To see how this battle played out with the other songs, listen here online.

Episode 7 Tracks:
Walter – Les Mangelepa
Kasongo – Super Mazembe
Mimba – Les Mangelepa
Lukasi – Super Mazembe
Maboko Pamba – Les Mangelepa
Nabimaka Te – Super Mazembe
Harare – Les Mangelepa
Samba – Super Mazembe
Zoao – Les Mangelepa
Shauri Yako – Super Mazembe

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