(Arts & Crafts Records)
I approached Papa Wemba, the lead off single from Pierre Kwenders forthcoming LP, José Louis and the Paradox of Love, (April 29th on the esteemed Arts & Crafts Record label) with both anticipation, and no small amount of trepidation. Losing Papa Wemba, the colossus of Congo/Zairian pop, rock, dance, funk, the colossal king of rumba rock - yeah that good - in 2016 was a sad loss to the world of music and "world music" as well. Papa left in his wake some albums that were masterpieces of musical prowess and power. He was literally a giant. Anyway… Pierre Kwenders title alone is a good way to get me to press play.
Pierre Kwenders voice sounds maybe more like another sax master of Africa, Manu Dibango. But the music, yeah it's a succinct 80s, 90s groove alright, updated. Wonderous sax melodies soaring all over the piece and you can't still your feet. NO WAY. Got the knees and feet shuffling this one did for sure. Anti-arthritis exercise done for the day. Way better than a homedics electric foot shuffler. Papa Wemba, the song, swirls with percussion and wailing sax and totally captures the spirit of the Papa and a few of those who trod the roads and pathfinder steps with him.
Pierre Kewnders says of Papa Wemba, “He’s been called the king of Congolese Rumba, Papa Wemba has also been one of my idols and biggest inspirations,” says Kwenders. “He has paved the way for so many artists and has brought Congolese Rumba to another extent. His passing in 2016 was devastating for all rumba lovers. I knew from that day that I wanted to pay homage to him. This video is a clin d’oeil to his essence and elegance. Being one of the founding fathers of La Sape, I wanted this video to showcase beauty and swagg as Papa Wemba would. Teaming up with (director) Daniel Amoakoah was a dream come true. I knew he would bring the vision to life.”
Tendai Maraire (of Shabazz Palaces) created the gorgeous transcendent saxophone crescendo and a sprawling collage of jazz fusion, haunting rhythms and a shot of 90s synth-pop nostalgia. During his lifetime, Papa Wemba was a spirited and convivial man—a connoisseur of the good things in life. He dared to dream and thus inspired an entire generation, including Kwenders himself.
‘Papa Wemba’ is a great introduction to those sounds that are so popular in the UK and it's summer festival scene. Memories, music, dance. Stepping through carefree days in the southern UK, Spanish, and French sun.
José Louis and the Paradox of Love, promises even greater riches, capturing more of Papa's spirit, excitement and brilliance. Off to play a couple of my fav Papa discs, and try to create some African sun and celebration on a dismal grey tyneside day. José Louis and the Paradox of Love arrives on April 29th.
José Louis and the Paradox of Love Tracklist:
- L.E.S (Liberté Égalité Sagacité) (Feat. Win Butler, King Britt)
- Your Dream (Feat. Ngabo)
- No No No
- Imparfait (Feat. Sônge)
- Papa Wemba
- Religion désir
- Makambo Ya Gaga (skit)
- Heartbeat (feat. anaiis)
- Radio trottoir (interlude) (Feat. Babel Bukasa)
- Church (Likambo) (Feat. Africa Intshiyetu Choir)
Pierre Kwenders website
The Papa Wemba single is available now
José Louis and the Paradox of Love released on April 29th on the esteemed Arts & Crafts Record label