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Mbilia Bel's career took off in the mid-'80s when she sang alongside Tabu Ley on a number of recordings and tours, also recording solo albums at the same time. After her first child was born, she took some time off and decided to part company with Ley, making one last album with him in 1987. She moved to Paris and hooked up with guitarist Rigo Star, who composed and arranged much of her material. Most of her lyrics revolve around themes of adult love, which has proven controversial on some occasions. She toured the U.S., U.K., and West Africa from 1989 to 1990, drawing enthusiastic crowds. More recently, she has taken to experimenting within the traditional rumba/soukous framework, mixing in rap and other elements, with mixed results. ~ Steve Huey