Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:
*****

PAPA WEMBA
1977-1997
Stern's Africa

Congolese music's great surviving big man gets the American best-of he has long deserved

A stickler for terminology, Papa Wemba refuses to call his music soukous or rhumba, but that'll do for us non-Africans. The 55-year-old is the greatest vocalist ever to work the Cuban-inflected dance genre that dominated his native continent in Afropop's heyday--as powerful when he's clear as when he's rough, and surpassingly gentle when he croons. He's also a demanding bandleader whose guitarists can billow smoothly in the finest Congo-Parisian manner but early on nailed less delicate effects. With the ingrained mastery of the village chief he might have been, he's turned out gorgeous, muscular, propulsive music for three decades. Only the departed rhumba paterfamilias Franco has had his name on a collection as impressive as this 18-track double CD.

Blender, May 2005