It is a conflict at once cultural, generational and political: rap music in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is staging a frontal assault on rumba, accusing its ageing stars of only singing of love and other banalities. The DRC’s growing army of rappers say their urban lyrics reflect a gritty realism edged with angst as one of Africa’s biggest and most unstable nations heads towards a troubled presidential election. At the back of a courtyard in Bandal, a popular and trendy district of the capital Kinshasa, a DJ called DDT has opened Kinshasound, a recording studio which is about the size of a toilet. At the mixing deck, beat maker Kratos is playing around with a mix of ethnic rhythms caught somewhere between the big sounds of the Bronx and the driving drumbeats of Afrobeat or Afro-Trap. This tiny studio has attracted rap artists such as Sista Becky, Alesh and Magneto, who electrified the crowds at October’s Red One urban music festival in Kinshasa. But Kinshasound has also at...

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