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Pierre Kwenders offers a heartfelt homage to "Papa Wemba"

The Congolese-born artist and leading figure of Montreal’s Moonshine collective, pays tribute to the true King of DRC while announcing a new album. 

Papa Wemba, also known as the King of Congolese rumba, has without a doubt marked several generations of Congolese with his melodies, his inimitable style and his constant capacity to renew himself. Congolese-born, Montreal-based musician and Moonshine collective co-founder Pierre Kwenders received Wemba’s music head-on in his childhood, spent in Kinshasa. In his new track, dedicated to the legend, he recites some of his most popular song titles, and sings “Na Bruxelles, Référence ya Shagi Sharufa” as a direct reference to Wemba’s hit “Saï Saï”. Multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire lent his signature style to the piece using his saxophone to create a collage of jazz fusion and 90’s synth-pop. 

Papa Wemba has also been one of my idols and biggest inspirations”, Kwenders explains. “He’s 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.”

This new track is the first single from Kwenders’ upcoming album José Louis and The Paradox of Love, to be released via Arts & Crafts. The project will host with a range of global collaborators including Tendai Maraire (Shabazz Palaces), Branko (M.I.A., Buraka som Sistema), Win Butler (Arcade Fire), Michael Brun (J Balvin), and Uproot Andy (Poirier) among others. 

This latest project  follows Classe Tendresse, released in 2020. Pierre Kwenders’ debut project Le Dernier Empereur Bantou was unveiled in 2014. In addition to producing multiple joint EPs in the meantime, he has also traveled the globe with his Moonshine collective, holding nearly 100 lunar events around the world.

José Louis and The Paradox of Love by Pierre Kwenders, out on April 29 via Arts & Crafts.