We have two part post that I have been wanting to do but had no chance. I am sorry for the long delay. I had so many things to do that I did not have a chance to do this.
Where Pepe Kalle defeats Franco
1) Better dancer
Despite Pepe Kalle's weight, he could actually dance. Unlike Franco, Pepe Kalle loved moving around a lot. Partially this was because Pepe Kalle was doing Soukous music. Franco had great energy to tell stories but as far as moving around a lot, Pepe Kalle was better. When Pepe Kalle would dance, he would actually beat his members who were skinnier than him I add. I mean the other members would look like frozen doughnuts compare to Pepe Kalle. I could not believe that a fat man could be a better dancer than the more thinner folks. Even Djouna Mumbafu had to sleep when Pepe Kalle got on the dance floor. But Pepe Kalle would purposely not dance often because he wanted to let others have their "moments" too.
2) Better promoter
Franco admitted that promotion was not a great thing that he was good at. He alluded to this on a 1985 interview here.
If you want the English version, go to the Franco documentary called "King of Rumba". You will see Franco's words about promotion.
This was where Pepe Kalle was actually pretty good at. After Pepe Kalle left Veve's label, Pepe Kalle managed to make some good promotion during his early days in Empire Bakuba and he managed to capture success and his songs were noticed and were praised since it had "great quality". Someone did notice. King of Rumba himself. King of Rumba was a big fanatic of King of Soukous. King of Rumba did give some aide to King of Soukous Pepe Kalle. Pepe Kalle's promotional skills got back to Veve label in 1982 and Verckys even asked Pepe Kalle to sing in one of his songs.
Which leads to reason 3. Verckys. Franco and Verckys, I have no clue how Franco and Verckys ever ended up together in OKJ. It just seemed odd from the beginning in my view. But Franco and Verckys ended up being enemies. Verckys and Pepe Kalle relation was actually pretty good since he got Pepe Kalle into Veve label to do some guest singing around his group and Bella Bella as well. I will do post about Soki Vangu and Pepe Kalle soon. Now I am so addicted to hear Soki Vangu and Pepe Kalle together. Verckys enjoyed Pepe Kalle so much when Pepe Kalle returned to the Veve label, Verckys made sure that Pepe Kalle sang again with his group.
4) Better with Youth
One of Pepe Kalle's strength was capturing young people to get moving. Since young people wanted more dance more, comes Empire Bakuba and Zaiko Langa Langa. Empire Bakuba was led by Pepe Kalle. Pepe Kalle emerged and he managed to impressive young people the most with his Soukous songs. Furthermore, Pepe Kalle's Oh Nager and Kwasa Kwasa proved to be too much and other "Soukous" stars would the latter dance and find ways to make it unique and try to make it less "Pepe Kalle" like.
Pepe Kalle was confident from the beginning. Franco was actually very shy and not very comfortable when he was young. But that was not the case with the King of Soukous. He was always determined to get his way in the Congolese music scene. Pepe Kalle was not impressed by any one including the King of Rumba. When Franco offered to have Pepe Kalle into OK Jazz, Pepe Kalle actually turned down the offer which turned out to the best decision for both kings. This demonstrated Pepe Kalle's incredible confidence. He never felt scared of anyone and it would pay off during the 1980s and 1990s.
Let me show Pepe's incredible confidence. 1992 Zambia show
6) Better singer
Franco was a incredible musician and leader but Pepe Kalle was the better singer than Franco was. Pepe Kalle had a voice that was unique. Now this does not mean I think Pepe Kalle is the best Congolese singer. Nope. Not even close. They are better singers than Pepe Kalle. I think about Papa Wemba, Nyboma, Madilu, Ntesa, Josky Kiambukuta, Papy Tex, and especially Soki Vangu. But Pepe Kalle sang better than Franco did. Pepe Kalle's voice was solid and incredible but more importantly it was very smooth. This could explain Franco's addiction to Pepe Kalle. In fact, it was said by many such as Ntesa that Franco envied Pepe Kalle's voice more than anyone's voice. This would lead to Franco's partnership with Madilu. Largely due to Franco's jealously for Pepe Kalle's voice. Pepe Kalle's voice could go in ways that you could not think of a normal singer in "his shoes". Furthermore, Pepe Kalle's smoothness is one thing that remained with him especially as his voice would go on constant changes.
His great voice was especially noticed in Tanzania. In fact when he visited Tanzania, that was when people started to lose their mind. Though Franco went to Tanzania and people were nuts, but with Pepe Kalle, people felt much more comfortable and felt like Pepe Kalle could have been "A great Tanzanian" himself. Pepe Kalle only his presence in Tanzania more known when he released his song "Shikamo Seye" or some would called it "Hidaya". Hear the song here. You will be impressed.
Tanzania is essentially Pepe Kalle's town since his song Hidaya came. In fact I was told that more ladies have been named Hidaya since Pepe Kalle's song Shikamo Seye came. Insane, right? Apparently some ladies love this song just because he says "Hidaya". Now some are wanting to name their daughter "Hidaya". Tanzania, it appears that they are more crazy about Pepe Kalle than Franco.