Lous and the Yakuza: Iota review – showcasing her dreamy side

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(Columbia)
The Congolese-Belgian singer’s second album delivers on ballads and heartbreak while retaining her debut’s swagger

Obsessed with anime and Studio Ghibli, bounced between her native DRC, Rwanda and her adoptive Belgium, Lous and the Yakuza – born Marie-Pierra Kakoma – was never going to be a textbook R&B singer turned model. Her hard-hitting 2020 debut, Gore, drew on trap and pop, Congolese beats and hip-hop swagger; Lous herself combined a fashion-forward presentation with lyrics reflecting her struggles. Dilemme, its biggest hit, racked up 10m streams; an NPR Tiny Desk concert from last year won this French-language creative new disciples in the US.

Of Iota, her second full-length release, Lous has said that she is keen to tone down her “trauma and pain” to better showcase her “dreamy” side. Accordingly, Ciel (Sky), the opener, eschews beats altogether while Yuzu Balade closes Iota with a pensive heartbreak ballad. Lubie is a tender guitar track featuring Belgian rap superstar Damso, who Lous credits with rescuing her from homelessness. Really, though, everything that made Gore so good remains in place on Iota. Lous’s ferocious eloquence and ear for a banger rarely falter. Kisé is a relentless bop while Monsters is cool pop reckoning between Kakoma and her demons.

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