Papa Wemba was born in Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) in 1949.
His mother was a professional mourner at funeral wakes or evenings. By training regularly with her son, she introduced him to music and singing.
It had its first success in 1970 in Kinshasa, where he was a singer, composer and co-founder of the group Zaiko Langa Langa. The group quickly became the figurehead of a generation of young Zairian which is the traditional rumba on which African dance since the 50s a little too slow and outdated. But with the arrival of rock rhythms have accelerated. Zaiko Langa Langa then seeks to revitalize and renew the nonchalant rumba in vogue. The success was immediate. Very soon became a star Papa Wemba and his group dominates.
In 1974 he created his own group Isife Lokole, and in 1976 he created Viva La Musica, consisting of fifteen musicians.
Around 1979, he sang a few months in the orchestra Afrisa International of Tabu Ley, another star Zaire with which Papa Wemba has already worked in the late 60s.
Hoping to gain a larger audience and to benefit from better equipment he went to Paris in the early 80s and since it is divided between France and the DRC.
Papa Wemba is also a follower of the SAPE, the Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People. Born in the Congo in the late 70s, this movement takes its full extent abroad, particularly in France. SAPE is a dress first phenomenon based on a flamboyant and exaggerated elegance.