PARIS: Romantic and committed, often both at the same time: the Franco-Congolese singer Dadju has experienced a meteoric rise over the past five years, preaching true love and the emancipation of women in music or on the screen.
Dadju has just turned 31 and “tries to sleep when he can”. His youngest born in February does not spare him, nor does his overloaded artist’s agenda.
A first film first, “Ima”, is released on Wednesday in French cinemas. Then a third album, “Cullinan”, is expected two days later by millions of fans.
“It’s not always easy! But I do what I love, “laughs Dadju, calm voice and easy laughter, during a meeting with AFP in early May.
Like his big brother Gims, first star of the Sexion d’Assaut group and then just a star, Dadju Djuna Nsungula, by his full name, started out under the Wati-B label. His title “Rêver”, in duet with rapper Abou Tall, revealed him to the general public in 2013.
“Prince Dadj” goes solo in 2017, and goes from a positive rap to a more R’n’B style. “Honey” but not honeyed, his music echoes both romantic texts and calls for the emancipation of women, sometimes both at the same time.
Words that he translates into action: his association “Give back Charity” has been helping victims of domestic violence in Congo since 2019.
“It’s always a bit tricky to talk about these tragedies, I try most of the time to talk about them with my own weapons, my social networks, because I have a lot of people who follow me, I try to put that in my music (…), I prefer to explain things to you through what you like”, develops the artist.
In his first album released in 2017 and certified diamond disc a year later (500,000 sales, physical, streaming and download), Dadju is the “Gentleman 2.0”. “Reine” is a ballad celebrating a strong and free woman, “Bob Marley” curries those who are racing for “likes” on social networks. The two titles, among his biggest hits, have been played several hundred million times on YouTube.
“I really like to put a universe in each album, to have a world specific to this project”, explains the singer. Two years later, “Poison or Antidote”, also certified diamond, was released: a double disc imbued with duality, between lost love and the desire for reunion.
Always looking for challenges, this workaholic has seen the big picture for his return in 2022. As he works on his next album, thought of as a succession of short stories, “an idea, plus an idea, plus an idea, which became a screenplay… I said to myself: ‘why not go crazy and try the feature film?’ “recalls Dadju.
“Ima”, as much a romance as a platform in favor of women’s rights in Africa, was born out of a collaboration with director Nils Tavernier. The story takes place in Kinshasa in the DRCongo, another country of Dadju’s heart, and follows Ima, a young woman harassed (Karidja Touré, revealed in “Girls Band”) by a crooked entrepreneur.
“Even if I pass it off as entertainment, it’s really so that people get used to being aware” of these issues.
His new album, “Cullinan”, is a continuation of these fights. Without forgetting the frenzied rhythms with African sounds that he appreciates so much, like the title “Toko toko”.
The singer, among the most listened to French artists on Spotify (4 million listeners per month) and YouTube (2.6 billion views), will continue with an American tour, and a big concert at the Parc des Princes in Paris on 18 June.
How does he go the distance? “I stay focused,” he smiles. “You have to do what you have to do as long as you can (…) and I don’t like to regret. »
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