By the time he recorded 'Emotion', his second album for Real World, Congolese band-leading legend Papa Wemba had made somewhere in the region of 25 records. This 1995 album marked something of a departure. Rather than being another instalment of his trademark high-octane soukous, 'Emotion' was an unashamed offering to the same international audience taking the likes of Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal to its hearts. Indeed, there's even a cover of Otis Redding's Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song). No problem, though. These are irresistibly crystal-clear melodies wrapped in the crispest, most modern production.
Original Sleeve Notes
In the autumn of '94 Paris-based Zairois, Papa Wemba, was deep in the recording of this album, 'Emotion', at Real World Studios. "Making this record gave me the shivers", declared Papa. "When I arrived in Paris to live and work, and aim my music at the international market, I remember Martin Messonier saying, 'if your first album fails, if your second album fails... you'd better make sure the third one is a success!' It's not that I'm afraid to sing - I've been singing for 25 years - but on this LP I've taken a totally different musical direction, so I'm a little afraid of the public's reaction. This is an emotional time, that's why I must call this album 'Emotion'."
Papa Wemba is clearly on a mission. He is building on the legacy of his innovative 1988 album 'Papa Wemba', which was recorded in collaboration with producer Martin Messonier, and the aptly titled 'Le Voyageur' album, which was released in Europe on Real World in '92. For Papa the real agenda lies in the dream of worldwide notoriety. To reach that international audience, artists like Papa Wemba must be willing to risk alienating the purists.
"My original group is there for my Zairean fans who come to hear typical African sounds," says Papa, "but when I decided to be a singer with an international name, I formed another group to .......