When Bob Elvis laughs, it’s a nervous laugh.
“I’m from Kisangani,” he says, clearly trying to represent the machismo of his home town’s history when I ask him how he protects himself from the authorities. After coming out with his most recent song “Dégage” — a not-so-subtle message against the corrupt Congolese political class — his profile as both a rising hip hop artist and a political activist rose.
“It isn’t the first time I’ve kept a low profile,” he continues. If you haven’t encountered someone who laughs this kind of laugh before, you would almost believe that he is genuinely fearless.
“I know that I can’t trust anyone,” he continues. “Sometimes it is your closest friend that betrays you.”
Still, despite the political message of his songs — and the tightening political environment in DRC — Bob Elvis leads a fairly normal life. I joined him at his studio — a community-run space for artists like him to play and support each other, and visiting friends and family where he rehearsed with his band. He tells me he chose the name Bob Elvis because of his mother’s two favorite musicians: Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. He’s inspired by Bob Dylan’s politics and Elvis Presley’s style — and hopes that can infuse Bob Dylan style political messages with Elvis Presley emotion.
A few days after we got home from Kinshasa, we received news that Bob Elvis had gone missing — and had quite likely been taken by the government security forces. Please spread this on social media to raise awareness, and share his music — which he would want you to hear.