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Lous and The Yakuza: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

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The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Bob Boilen | January 27, 2021
There's an elegant vibe as Lous and The Yakuza perform a Tiny Desk from the Book Bar in the Hôtel Grand Amour in Paris. And while the music is smooth, upbeat and warm, what lies beneath in Lous backstory, in her French lyrics, is, at times, deep and disturbing.

Lous — an anagram for "soul" — is Marie-Pierra Kakoma, a 24-year-old artist based in Belgium but born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She came to Belgium because her family escaped war in the Congo. They were refugees. For her Tiny Desk (home) concert, she opens with her 2019 single, "Dilemme." The song conjures up images of growing up in the Congo and Rwanda: "Living haunts me, everything that surrounds me made me mean," she sings in French. Her songs are often set to Congolese rumba rhythms, filled with resilience, beauty and resistance.

These songs come from her 2020 album, Gore, and are steeped in a life that saw her mother imprisoned in the Congo for being Rwandan, then become separated during their escape to Belgium. They were eventually reunited, butLous was a troubled teen and spent a period of time adrift before pulling her life together in pursuit of music and art. There's much to uncover and discover here. This Tiny Desk (home) concert is a deep journey.

"Bon Acteur"
"Dans La Hess"

Lous: vocals
Joseph Nelson: keys
Jamiel Blake: drums
Swaeli Mbappe: bass
Ayelya Douniama: vocals
Myriam Sow: vocals

Video: Lenny Grosman, Robin Conrad and Loris de Oliveira
Audio: Charles Darnaud
Directors: Lenny Grosman and Robin Conrad
Camera: Loris de Oliveira
FOH Engineer: Florent Livet
Monitor Engineer: Antoine Lalbat
Production: Jim Schachmes and Brieux Ferot
Stage Manager: Maddly Mendy-Sylva

Producer: Bob Boilen
Video Producer: Maia Stern
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Tiny Production Team: Kara Frame, Morgan Noelle Smith
Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
NPR, NPR Music, National Public Radio
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