“My life has always been crowded – but I often feel lonely.” So says Lous and the Yakuza, a recording artist who revels in a duality that provides the beating heart and dark soul of her music. Born Marie-Pierra Kakoma, Lous travelled to Belgium from her native Congo, aged four, to live with her mother and three siblings, later moving to Rwanda and then Brussels where she attended boarding school. Yet wherever she went, the rhythms of her home followed her.
“I remember the parties when we were young,” Lous, now 24, recalls dreamily. Her parents would listen to Congolese artists such as Koffi Olomide and Papa Wemba, but also Mozart, Beethoven and Vivaldi. As a teenager, Lous delved into System of a Down and Korn, but also James Blake and FKA twigs. Her mother favoured classic singers: Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Bob Marley – distinctive voices that still speak to generations today. Her debut single, “Dilemme”, which already has more than 30 million Spotify streams, melds smooth trap beats and electropop with her distinctive, cool murmur: “Si je pouvais je vivrais seule/ Loin des problèmes et des dilemmes.” (“If I could, I would live alone/ Far from problems and dilemmas.”)
Her debut album, Gore, is a 10-track phenomenon delivered entirely in French and produced by Spain's El Guincho, who collaborated with Flamenco pop star Rosalía on her Grammy-winning album El Mal Querer. With El Guincho, Lous has created a timeless album that speaks to her unique identity both as a person and as an artist. Her use of Congolese rumba rhythms work perfectly with El Guincho’s own Latin heritage; on “Courant d’Air” she opts for a heavier hip-hop influence that recalls her contemporary, Belgian-Congolese rapper Damso.
Fame is not something Lous ever sought, but she’s no longer resisting
the idea that she is rapidly becoming one of the most prominent new
artistic voices in Belgium, France, and other countries around the world
– the epitome of the “international artist”. “It’s hard to break me,”
she grins. “You either walk with me or you stay in the back.”