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Soukous and Highlife
SECTION 1 - West Africa World Beat

1. Soukous and Highlife

In the Congo, Soukous is also referred to as Rumba (not to be confused with Cuban Rhumba, or ballroom Rumba). There are many variants to this rhythm as the basic rhythm tends not to be conformed to for a long time.

I’ve always had difficulty explaining exactly what the differences are between Soukous and Highlife, there is a lot of crossover in the grooves. It is easiest to pay attention to the guitar, because Soukous has a trademark style that has been compared to the Son-Montuno piano style in Afro Cuban music. It is flowing and rhythmic and insistent in its constant presence. It also tends toward the upper-range of the guitar and is often bright to the point of being brittle in sound. Check out anything from Kanda Bongo Man to hear classic soukous.

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