Although Lous and the Yakuza has only released a handful of official singles so far, they’ve all been totally distinctive. On “Tout est gore”, Lous raps in French about living life in the fast lane and being extra in everything you do, as a way of navigating pain. Compare this to her latest single, “Solo”, in which she sings over a weightless instrumental about the glass ceiling faced by so many black people in a white society. Binding the tracks together is adventurous production from El Guincho (the artist who helped bring Dazed 100 alum Rosalía’s flamenco music to life), Ponko, and Mems, as well as an unmistakable visual universe created with director Wendy Morgan. Videos like “Dilemme” bridge regency and street styles, and put the incomparable Lous centre-stage.
Lous was born in the Congo, before later moving to Brussels, then to Rwanda. A natural performer, she experimented with a few DIY releases before she grew into her current sound, which has picked up fans like Madonna and Alicia Keys. She’s now once more in Belgium, although recently made an appearance on the Chloé runway at Paris Fashion Week – “just for the culture”.
Lous and the Yakuza is at the vanguard of a new pop music climate that’s becoming more open to non-English language music, where artists from Latin trap rappers to Parisian pop stars have achieved worldwide success without diluting the cultural specificities of their sound for a global audience.
In a sentence, what is your creative manifesto?
Lous and the Yakuza: I would say that my creative manifesto is to be as close as possible to the truth, and therefore to love.
How did you start doing the work that you do, and what inspires it?
Lous and the Yakuza: I started writing songs as soon as I could write, because I had the urgent need to express myself as a kid. What inspired me was the wide variety of emotions a human could feel, especially the sense of tragedy. I was extremely concerned by the fact that some stories don’t end well, even in Disney movies. I started writing and mimicking those stories and applying them in a real-life context.
“I started writing songs as soon as I could write, because I had the urgent need to express myself as a kid” – Lous and the Yakuza
What issues or causes are you passionate about, and why?
Lous and the Yakuza: I’m passionate about community. I am a black person and I am a female black person. When women fight for women’s rights, they often forget about black women, and when people start caring about black people, they care about (those with) fair skin, not dark skin. I care about slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, and things related to Africa – the Congo and Rwanda, because I was born and raised there – especially now that I live in Belgium, because the history is really bad. They colonised us. We were in the private garden of King Leopold.
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Lous and the Yakuza: I would probably keep working on opening a hospital in Rwanda. That’s the project I’m doing right now; I’m going to open my first small clinic in January 2021. As a 23-year-old (I want) to inspire people to be like, here, you don’t have to wait ’til you’re 30/35/40. As soon as you have the ability to, there’s no reason to wait.