Tchakdollar King Sings London. The British Summer Festival goes exotic: the “golden voice” of Cameroon is to perform in London.
Best known as the most ethnically diverse city in the world, it comes as a little surprise that a young Cameroonian rapper performs in London.
Jordan Tchakounté, alias Tchakdollar King, is set to become a worldwide phenomenon following his fast-selling number one album, and his being among the artists lining up to perform in London this summer.
Sir Ekambi Louis Brillant once said of Tchakounte’s original unpolished talent: “Watch out, he is a diamond in the rough”.
Sir Ekambi is a world famous Cameroon-born singer who achieved fame in 1971, at the age of 23, after winning the international French singing broadcast contest.
Launched by the Music Office of French Broadcasting Television (ORTF), the singing competition was a turning point. Sir Ekambi was competing against the biggest voices of the music industry, such a Manu Dibango, the late Francis Bebey, to list a few.
On 7th June 2016, speaking to The Bridge Magazine, Jordan Tchakounté of The Njoka Gang (a name which translates as ‘music band’ from Cameroonian jargon) said: “For me, to perform in front of the British public will be a dream come true.”
Bridging musical differences
“I sing for the whole world” Tchakounté once said. Remember, the Njoka Gang’s catchphrase is, “Only sky is the limit ” The band’s lyrics are in both English and French.
Jordan Tchakounté’s most famous song, the one that brought him to the limelight, was ‘Je suis toujours d’actualité’, followed by the hit, ‘Get Out the Way’.
‘Je suis toujours d’actualité’ means ‘I am still standing, I am still connected’ or, ‘I am still appropriate to the matter in hand’. The song hit 52,000 likes online in just two days, and sold thousand in one weeks.
Tchakounté has more than one string to his bow: he has also trained as a professional footballer, and has been playing as a striker for several football clubs.
Jordan Tchakounté’s talks to the The Bridge Magazine:
On 7th June 2016, Tchakounté opened up to The Bridge Magazine and gave us the opportunity to share some aspects of his professional and personal life.
He appears to be a very happy and calm person, with light brown piercing eyes. He has a very enthusiastic, deep and confident voice. But he speaks very fast at times, as if he will stutter if he does not speed up. Jordan Tchakounté has great social skills and an incredible ability at making you feel welcome in his world.
Tell us about your childhood
Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, I tragically lost my mother at age 3.
We are sorry to learn that. The circumstances of her death?
It is quite personal. It brings back sad memories.
Apologies for being inquisitive What do you think about politics and politicians in general?
I am very reluctant with this type of question. No offence, but journalists sometimes have a bad press. They will twist your answers to get you into trouble.
Don’t worry, The Bridge Magazine always sticks to journalism ethics and its’ editorial guidelines. Anything said off record remains off record. Our interviewees are free not to reply if a question makes them feel uncomfortable.
Still don’t want to say something about politics?
Well let’s put it this way, I dislike the suffering and the killing of children, or innocent civilians when it comes to war.
What is your favourite colour and why?
Green. Because it is the colour of nature, the colour of growth, prosperity and hope.
Going back to my childhood, I was raised in a conservative middle-class family, with very strong ethics and family values. I am so thankful to my father who was prompt to understand that I was not interested in studies.
Is your father a singer too?
Not at all, not even near. He is more of an academic person. He is a specialist in Economy and Development: he holds a PhD in Economic Sciences, worked as a deputy to the CEO in a bank for several years. He is also a university lecturer, an international consultant for NGOs. My late mother use to work as a personal assistant to an executive in the media industry.
Tell us about your passions
Singing and playing football are my passions.
At an early age, up to 16, I learnt the ropes after being enrolled and trained at the same football academy –Kadji Sports– as Samuel Eto’’o, one of the world’s richest footballers.
Do you have brothers and sisters?
Yes I do, my elder sister, Paule Malika, has followed our late mother’s professional footsteps. She is a Corporate Affair Consultant in the media industry. My youngest sister, we call her “our little star” in the family, Estella, is 18 and is doing a second year in Political Sciences at a Catholic University.
You look quite tall and well-built. You could be a model. Any modelling career prospects?
A model? I don’t know about that one. I am 1.84m, and weigh 70kg. It is not the most important thing but it helps when it comes to sport/football.
What ups and downs have you had?
Downs: becoming conscious about my mother’s death, then my troubled teenage-hood and impulsive temper. Also, flying back from France when I couldn’t make it with St. Etienne football team because of management issues.
Ups: September 2008, when I flew to Taulhac football club in France for a two- week test and was shortlisted for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Your biggest achievement?
At age 3, at my mother’s funeral I took everyone by surprise, I impressed the crowd by performing on the spot a Jean Pierre Essome song. My father and relative told me that the song moved the crowd and people donate almost a million thousand pounds in Local currency. For me, that was quite an achievement.
Impressive indeed. Well done. Is there any particular influence in your life?
My dad was very strict. He will always remind me that not having my mother around was not enough of an excuse to go off the rails.
Other inspirational figures in an artistic sense are Charlotte Dipenda, Kery James, to list a few.
I feel so lucky and blessed for being able to sing alongside the likes of Charlotte Dipenda. I am mentored by her from time to time.
Born to sing, ‘born with a nightingale’s voice’, one might say, Charlotte Dipanda is a world famous Afro pop singer from Cameroon. Acoustic music is her music genre. Her lyrics are in French and she does most of her concerts in Europe and has won several music awards worldwide.
Tchakounté has rubbed shoulders with French singer-songwriter Kery James.
The millennium genres in music culture
The convergence of different styles is one of the more defining features of the 2000s in music culture. However, the rise of the internet, Youtube, and the use of pitch correction software Auto-Tune, remain distinguishable elements of the decade.
Njoka Gang musical genre
Their music genre is a mixture of rap, gospel and reggae. Tchakounté became popular performing several concerts a year around the world.
Back to our talk…
Do you have any spiritual life? Are you involved in a church? What are your spiritual beliefs?
I am a Roman Catholic. I was a bit sceptical about religion and the existence of God, especially when I became more aware of the emptiness that comes with the loss of a mother at a tender age. I thought life was unfair on my behalf. But then, growing mature helps me to understand that there is someone above us and that there is nothing wrong about being Catholic or believing in God, as far as its ethos comes with morals and ethics.
What is the ugliest thing that ever happened to you?
My mother’s death…
Forget about rainy days. The future is bright for Njoka Gang. The British Summer Festival is the little push you and your bandmates have always dream of. We can only wish you good luck.
If Tchakdollar King and his Njoka Gang music band doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy, we don’t know what will…
We all love Njoka Gang.
Thank you Jordan Tchakounté for speaking to us at The Bridge Magazine.