Shiko Mawatu
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Shiko Mawatu


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Kimbanda Nzila (Tabilulu Prod./iMak Ent,)



Shiko Mawatu grew up in a family where music came naturally. His father was an accomplished accordion player and his two brothers Bunda Mawatu and Rocky Lisasu sung for the Simba Band in Kinshasa. With a musical upbringing, Shiko Mawatu felt the liberty of exploring other musical influences of his environment in his native city of Kinshasa, Congo. In his early teens, he exercised his writing ambitions by collaborating with Veve Verckys Kiamuangana, the famous Congolese producer & musician who had discovered him as a young talent.

Still in his teens, he formed a band “Le Paty – Bana Ngenge” with his friends Aziza and Tofolo also gifted musicians. They collaborated as talented musicians and they performed Shiko’s originals at local venues for years. He decided to pursue a solo career to better express his talent as a musician, an arranger, a songwriter, and a singer. Later on, he discovered a talent, the singer Vonga Aye and they both ended up working with the famous saxophonist Empopo Loway to form a band with Vonga Aye as their female lead vocalist. They all worked with the guitar legend Dr. Nico Kasanda Wa Mikalayi who then took them to Europe for the recording of their first album, “Bonbon Kojak.” The success Shiko had achieved as a guitar player, a songwriter and an arranger had put him on the map in the community of Kinshasa professional musicians before his European trip. Upon his return to Congo, Shiko discovered Malage De Lugendo who later became Franco’s protégé and Zaiko Langa Langa’s main vocalist. Mawatu continued his streak of discovering new talents such as Deese Mukangi and many others as his way of searching for a missing link.

He returned to Europe in 1990 in search for new influences and collaborations with other gifted musicians. He performed with Theo Lolango and an American, David Hoffman in Rome, Italy to yet experiment new sounds and techniques. In 2000, Soukous Stars of legendaries like Lokassa Ya Mbongo, Canta Nyboma, Shimita Diego and the Professor Ngouma Lokito retained his services as a lead guitar player and also a music director for the group. However, this famous songwriter did not perform or record his original materials with Soukous Stars but he gave them the best of himself. Mawatu decided to make the year 2007 a year of his original songs on record for the first time ever.

Embracing an effortless eloquence and cocoa butter smooth persona, Shiko Mawatu and his original songs have brought back the true meaning of Congo Rumba. Like his musical spiritual godfather Franco Luambo Makiadi, this Kinshasa native has magic fingers on his guitar and an incredible writing style that capture the vibe of vintage Congo Rumba without being old fashion. On his debut solo album entitled Kimbanda Nzila, his experience, maturity and of course talents can be clearly heard.

“It’s always been my goal to try and bring back real Congo Rumba,” Shiko says. “When I was younger, it was all about the inner feeling. From the first time I ever stepped into a studio, my dream was to pick-up where the Grand Master Franco Luambo Makiadi left off.” While Shiko Mawatu’s aspirations might have seemed like a lofty ambition, the longevity of his career, his experience and patience are testaments to the purity of his vision.

With the release of Kimbanda Nzila, Shiko’s first album, he vies to be the next “quiet storm” king or crooner on Congo Rumba in a country where fame and stardom is a monopoly of a few among thousands of great musicians. It’s logical given the fact that he creates beautiful music several years after the death of Franco Luambo Makiadi. Like Luambo Makiadi and his T.P O.K. before him, Shiko’s rhythmic endurance secret comes down to his ability to create eternal music. “I wasn’t always completely satisfied as an artist with the situation of writing and arranging for others,” Shiko confesses. Having collaborated, written and arranged songs for renowned Congolese artists like Madilu Systeme, Josky Kiambukuta, Tshala Muana, Faya Tess and the late Pepe Kalle before making his own album, Mawatu was more than ready.

Without a doubt, the landscape of Congo music is getting younger, but that fact does not hinder Shiko Mawatu’s creative process. “It would be a mistake for me to try and compete with younger singers and musicians,” Shiko laughs. “I’m not going to be dancing without my shirts on TV, but at the same time I believe my songs will appeal to everyone from teenagers to older folks.”

“As a songwriter my biggest challenge has always been finding new ways to say old things,” Shiko Mawatu says. “For me, it was all about telling a story and exploring my environment, where I come from and where I am going. Like everywhere else in the world, my environment is a much different place than what it used to be 15 years ago.”

On the album’s first song “Ntaba Ya Bandundu,” Mawatu brings forth the issue of infidelity in marriages in African communities away from Africa. In this particu