What Do People Want?
The latest in a long line of Kenyan benga greats such as D.O. Misiani and Colella Mazee, Opiyo Bilongo started his musical career in the 1990’s. After playing with several different Luo dance bands throughout western Kenya, he hooked up with benga legend Osito Kale, as a rhythm guitarist. A couple years of constant touring later, and Mr. Bilongo was ready to break out on his own. He recorded Nyako We Sanda, whose title track became a hit, and has never looked back. Suddenly popular, Mr. Bilongo needed a band and, so, Bilongo Golden Stars was born. By 2004, Bilongo and his new group were becoming quite deadly on the benga scene. They got together with Extra Golden guitarist Ian Eagleson in Siaya and recorded not one, but two follow-ups to Nyako We Sanda. What Do People Want? brings together the best tracks from both of those releases.
2007 is already shaping up to be the year of Opiyo Bilongo, with What Do People Want? dropping at the beginning, and a new Extra Golden full-length due out by the end. In the Luo language, “Bilongo” means “taste hawk”. You may not find that idea particularly appealing, but if you don’t get hip to Opiyo Bilongo now, you’ll surely be “eating crow” later.