The Rumba Kings Playlist.

Most of the songs featured in The Rumba Kings film in a Spotify Playlist.

Planet Ilunga

A record label based in Belgium publishing exclusively classic Congolese Rumba compilations on Vinyl. It's worth exploring their whole catalog.

Grand Kalle: His Life His Music (Sterns Africa, 2013)

The definitive CD compilation about the music of Grand Kalle. The notes by African music expert Ken Braun are worth the price of the CD alone.

Francophonic: A Retrospective Vol. 1 1953-1980 (Sterns Africa, 2007)

The first part of the authoritative CD compilation about the musical legacy of Congolese composer, singer and master guitarist Franco Luambo and his OK Jazz orchestra.

Francophonic: A Retrospective, Vol. 2: 1980-1989 (Sterns Africa, 2009)

The second part of this amazing CD compilation about the music of Franco Luambo and his all mighty OK Jazz.

Tabu Ley Rochereau ‎– The Voice Of Lightness Volume 1 (Sterns Music, 2007)

The first part of a very well documented and curated compilation about the Congolese singer and songwriter Tabu Ley Rochereau, also known as the King of Soukous. Tabu Ley was the first African musician to play at the Olympia theater in Paris.

Tabu Ley Rochereau ‎– The Voice Of Lightness Volume 2 (Sterns Music, 2010)

The second part of Sterns Music compilation about the musical legacy of Tabu Ley Rochereau.

Early Congo Music 1946-1962 - First Rumba To The Real Rumba (El Sur Records, 2019)

A great CD compilation focusing on the birth and early development of the Congolese rumba sound.

Roots of Rumba Rock - Congo Classics 1953-1955 (Crammed Discs, 2006).

An thoroughly annotated CD compilation of tracks from the early era of Congolese rumba.

Roots of OK Jazz - Congo Classics 1955-1956 (Crammed Discs, 2006).

A Crammed Discs CD compilation focusing on the music that served as seeds and inspiration for the sound of the OK Jazz orchestra.

Congo Revolution - Revolutionary & Evolutionary Sounds From the Two Congos 1955-62 (Soul Jazz Records, 2019)

A very interesting compilation with many recently unreleased Congolese rumba tracks.

Muzikifan - Podcast

A bimonthly podcast devoted entirely to African and Afro-Cuban music conducted by Alastair Johnston.

Nostalgie Ya Mboka - Podcast

A weekly podcast dedicated to the early music of both Congos with a good dose of rarities from all eras of Congolese Rumba.

The Four Generations of Congolese Music - Podcast

Banning Eyre and Afropop take us into a sonic journey through the four generations of Congolese music.

The Fifth Generation of Congolese Music - Podcast

Afropop interviews Congolese music expert and African Art historian Lubangi Muniania about the new path of Congolese music, the so-called "Fifth Generation".


Rumba on The River (Gary Stewart, 2004).

Delightfully written and very well researched, Gary Stewart has crafted the definitive work about the Congolese rumba universe: its beginnings, its continental stars, its orchestras, its development and its musical legacy.

Land of Song. Zairian Music Yesterday and Today (Manda Tchebwa, 1996)

A very comprehensive work about several key characters, bands and stories of Congolese rumba by Congolese scholar, and historical consultant of The Rumba Kings film, Manda Tchebwa. Only published in French and very hard to find. But, it is worth the search. Check with your library.

Congo Colossus: The Life and Legacy of Franco & OK Jazz (Graeme Ewens, 1994).

The only biography published about the guitarist, singer and composer who captivated the African continent for decades with Congolese rumba. Out of print, but ask your library.

Dictionary of Immortals of Modern Congolese Music (Jean-Pierre Nimy, 2012)

Congolese scholar Jean-Pierre Nimy presents a collection of very well researched biographies of most of the Congolese rumba stars from the 1940s until the 2000s. Currently, it is only available in French.

A Discography of Dr. Nico (Alastair Johnston, 2012).

An exhaustive discography of the legendary Congolese guitarist Dr. Nico, written and researched by African music expert, and consultant producer of The Rumba Kings, Alastair Johnston. The books contain photos, newspaper clippings and a short biography of Nico Kasanda.

On the Banks of Congo, We Dance the Rumba (Manda Tchebwa, 2012)

A vivid description of the atmosphere of Kinshasa, in the golden era of Congolese rumba, and its twin city across the Congo river, Brazzaville. Taking us to its countless bars and its record labels, Manda Tchebwa brings back to life the Kinshasa of the 50s-60s. Currently, it is only available in French.

Papa Wemba, An African Music Icon, From Generation to Generation (Didier Bokelo, 2019)

The only biography of Congolese rumba megastar Papa Wemba published in English.

Franco The Grand Master (Raoul Yema Die Lala, 2013)

Former Congolese diplomat and childhood friend of Franco Luambo, Raoul Yema Die Lala brings new insights to the life of Franco Luambo. Some highlights are: the real origins of the OK Jazz name and the possible influence of greek Rembetika music in the work of the famous Congolese guitarist. Currently, it is only available in French.

52 years of Congolese Music in Congo Kinshasa (Clément Ossinonde, 2013)

Musical columnist Clément Ossinonde reviews fifty years of Congolese rumba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Currently, it is only available in French.

The Other Heroes of The Table Ronde - Planet Ilunga

An article written by The Rumba Kings director, Alan Brain, about the epic trip of the African Jazz orchestra to Europe in January of 1960. The text was originally published in the booklet accompanying Planet Ilunga's double vinyl compilation: "Joseph Kabasele and the Creation of Surboum African Jazz 1960-1963”.

Congo Classics Part II - Muzikifan

A compilation of reviews about the latest published Congolese rumba records by The Rumba Kings consultant producer, Alastair Johnston. Alastair's blog Muzikifan holds a treasure of information about African and Afro-Cuban music.

Rumba On The River - The Website

The website of Gary Stewart's book "Rumba on The River" is full with valuable information about the main Congolese rumba bands and musicians as well as the history of the two Congos.

Articles About Congolese Rumba - Worldservice

A direct link to all the articles about Congo and Congolese rumba in the World Service blog directed by African music expert Stefan Werdekker. This blog holds a ton of information about African and Latin music and many very rare Congolese rumba recordings from the author's collection.

Articles About Congolese Rumba - Pan African Music

A direct link to all the articles about Congo and Congolese rumba in the Pan African Music magazine.

Mboka Mosika

Mboka Mosika is a blog solely devoted to Congo and Congolese music with hundreds of articles in French.

Bibliography About Central African Music - Afrobib

A list of published books and/or research about Congolese music compiled by Flemming Harrev.

Ngoma, Opika and Olympia Discographies - Afrobib

The documented discographies of some of the most representative early Congolese rumba labels such as Ngoma, Opika and Olympia, compiled by Flemming Harrev. Please click on Central Africa and select any label to explore its discography.