The story surrounding Congolese artist’s 1987 release is so gruesome that he believed it was cursed. Secousse Records is reissuing it – and hopefully lifting the curse.
Born in Brazzaville, Congo, Sammy Massamba joined Les Cheveux Crépus in 1966, one of the main Congolese Rumba orchestras at the time. With them, he started touring all over the country, and then through Europe. It is during this tour that Sammy decided to stay in France.
After leaving the band in 1970, he led a prolific career, working as guitar player, author and composer, collaborating on several records. His work as an arranger for the Safari Ambiance Label catalogue as well as his solo projects established him as a major artist on the Afro-French scene.
In 1987, he self-recorded and producing Propriété Privée Maxi, released in small quantity and barely distributed. In 1992, he received a mysterious phone call. At the other end of the line, a voice with a strong Japanese accent introduced herself as the nephew of Akio Morita, the renowned cofounder of Sony. The Japanese heir mentioned he was a fan of ‘Propriété Privée’, and was in fact so keen on the record that he wanted to sign Sammy Massamba to Sony right away.
But he never showed up to the meeting they had planned : Akio Morita’s nephew had died in a car accident in central Paris the day before the meeting was due. Sammy was stunned by the news, and spent the next three months on the verge of mental breakdown. He was left with the feeling that his release was cursed.
Still, the record kept circulating thanks to people making bootleg cassettes, and then thanks to Youtube, cementing cult status amongst DJs and African music lovers. Until it reached the ears of DJ and Secousse label founder Étienne Tron.
This is how the French label came to reissue this record, in a remastered version. “Sala Keba”, the track we are premiering above, is a slow electrofunk burner, giving a good idea of Sammy Massamba’s style, a successful fusion of African and American music heritage. We just hope the curse has been lifted…
Sammy Massamba’s Propriété Privée will be out on Secousse Records on April 20th. Pre-order it on Bandcamp.