Pongo releases video for 6Music playlisted single ‘Uwa’ – the title-track from latest EP out via Caroline International24 September 2019
Angolan-Portuguese singer & rapper Pongo has released her latest 6Music supported single ‘Uwa’, the title-track from her new EP out now via Caroline International. Recently featured in the NME’s ‘100 Essential New Artists For 2020’, Pongo appeared at this year’s 6Music festival in London’s Dingwalls and will continue her UK touring with a headline run this spring – including her largest London gig to date, EartH Hackney on April 18.
With debut direction by French photographer Lou Escobar, the vibrant, choreography-led video for ‘Uwa’ was filmed on location in Dakar. Poignantly for Pongo, the shoot marked the first time she’d returned to Africa since fleeing Angola with her family as a child, to escape the country’s civil war. ‘Uwa’ itself takes its name from a word in Angola’s traditional language of Kimbundo meaning ‘step’. Used in the games of dodgeball played by children in the streets of Pongo’s Angolan hometown of Luanda, on ‘Uwa’ Pongo interpolates this nostalgia with the pulsating rhythms of the Kuduro genre to infectious effect.
‘Uwa’ follows Pongo’s 6Music-supported debut EP ‘Baia’ – which has since been streamed over 6 million times and counting, also spawning remixes from 20syl and Anoraak (issued via Kitsuné). The latest EP offering from Pongo marks the first inclusion of English – she herself is fluent in both Portuguese and Kimbundo – although ‘Canto’ is jubilantly delivered in Portunol, a blend of Portuguese and Spanish. The track is a celebration of her oftentimes turbulent journey into music, translating simply to ‘I Sing’. Speaking about the track, Pongo says; “This song describes the happiness I feel while making music. I’m trying to use latin rhythms and their particular ambience. I love mixing and discovering.”
Originally hailing from Angola’s capital city of Luanda, as a kid Pongo was forced to flee to Europe with her family to escape its lengthy, harrowing civil war. Eventually settling in Portugal in a city just north of Lisbon with a very small African-immigrant population, a young Pongo experienced prolonged racist abuse whilst completing her schooling in the area. Already seeking solace from a disturbing present tense by retreating into the music, dance & slang words of her former life in Luanda, Pongo’s route to becoming one of Kuduro’s fast-rising young stars was completed by the closest of near misses. Falling several storeys out of a window as the result of a prank gone horribly wrong – “I was always doing some kind of stupid acrobatics” – and somehow escaping with only a badly broken ankle, Pongo was forced to catch a train each week to meet with a physiotherapist for treatment. Stopping every week at the city’s Quelez Station, Pongo came into the orbit of the Denon Squad, a group of boys practising kuduro dance on the streets of one of Lisbon’s largest African communities. Soon rapping over their routines – in defiance of her father, himself a kuduro dancer back in Angola – a tape of Pongo’s recordings made its way into the hands of Lisbon-based club night turned kuduro collective Buraka Som Sistema. Pongo (taking her artist name in tribute to feminist Congolese singer, M’Pongo Love) then went on to make her debut on their ‘Black Diamond’ album, alongside the likes of M.I.A. and Kano.
With Pongo now choosing to live in Lisbon’s Quelez neighbourhood, and still sporting the large scar across her calf which remains from her death-defying accident, you sense it’s more than just coincidental that the kuduro movement took its name from an Angolan slang word meaning ‘hard-ass’.
PRAISE FOR PONGO
“An aural Vitamin D shot” – Guardian
“Blending her penchant for dancehall and Kuduro she’s proving herself as one of the most inventive and exciting performers around right now.” – NME
“An eclectic mix of sounds and genres that defies classification.” – The Line of Best Fit
“Multi-disciplined artist Pongo has a rich cocktail of musical cultures behind her” – Complex
“Her invitation to the dance floor is easy to accept” – Pitchfork