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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A double album covering 20 years that documents Papa Wemba's rise from stardom in Zaire (now D.R. Congo) to international renown with the group 'Viva La Musica'. Papa Wemba was a vital and dynamic figurehead in the rejuvenation of Congolese music and founder of the controversial yet influential 'Sapeur' (Société Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants) movement that elevated the wearing of fashionable clothes to the status of a cult.


Papa Wemba has been more or less the voice of soukous since it took off, known as much for his fashion style as his remarkable singing. Starting in 1976 when he formed his first band, Viva la Musica, he's done a great deal not only to popularize the style, but also to shape the form of soukous. These cuts, taken from the first 20 years of that career, show just what he's achieved, moving from the rawness of the early tracks, where gospel and soul remain discernible influences, to later material, more polished and ambitious in execution and imagination. His musicians have always been the cream of the crop, and it's a delight to hear the welter of polyrhythms and guitar work behind his energetic, committed performances. There's an interesting choice of songs here, mixing the well-known with the more obscure to offer a very complete picture of Wemba's sound, and even a harking back to the golden age of Congolese rhumba in a duet with the legendary Wendo Kolosoy. --Chris Nickson,

Mwana Molokai