The trajectory of Papa Wemba’s musical career was long, varied and adventurous. Years of youthful apprenticeship during the ’60s and ’70s in the clubs of Kinshasa, Zaire, led to Wemba pioneering a new, aggressive afro-pop known as ‘rhumba-rock’.

The release of Emotion was a real turning point for Papa Wemba and one of his most important albums. As an artist he was quiet and enigmatic but ready to embrace change; challenge the foundations of his music and seek new territories and new audiences.

Working with producer Stephen Hague and Lokua Kanza alongside Papa Wemba’s fantastic band at Real World Studios was one of the most exciting sessions in the label’s history.

Peter Gabriel describes Papa Wemba as:

“such an extraordinary talent – music flowed out of him effortlessly and he could thrill people with one of the most beautiful and emotional voices I have ever heard. His music was full of gentle rhythms and joy, but the passion came from the power of his singing, which always carried a sadness, especially in his high voice, which I found really moving. I remember talking to Chris Blackwell about all the great voices of Africa and he said that Wemba was the greatest of them all… I feel very privileged to have known him and to have had the chance to write, record and tour with one of the world’s greatest singers and musicians.”

Real World was devastated to hear of his untimely death in April 2016. He will always be part of the DNA of Real World Records.

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