A Groove for the Ages
The vocal chant from this 1972 dance floor classic—which goes something like, "mama se, mama-sa, mama-koss-sa"—is best known as the chorale from Michael Jackson's 1981 hit "Wanna Be Startin' Something." Though the rhythms are slightly different, the vocal cadences are nearly identical; when Jackson's song appeared, there was enough direct appropriation for the Cameroon-born saxophonist and composer Manu Dibango to threaten a copyright infringement lawsuit. (The parties settled out of court, with Jackson paying Dibango an undisclosed sum but not offering any songwriting credit.)
Just one time through the Dibango original—which was introduced to the West by New York DJ Frankie Crocker, and is sometimes identified as the first disco song—and it's easy to see why Jackson had it in his head. Everything about the track is addictive, from the initial two-note saxophone theme to the burbling bass line to the twice-famous refrain. Even though there are no solos, this is one totally enchanting jam, spurred, in spots, by Dibango's Isaac Hayes–like deep-baritone spoken comments.
Dibango was already a veteran when he recorded "Soul Makossa." In the '60s, he played jazz in Paris, Brussels, and the Congo (with the group Africa Jazz), and later led a band that specialized in a hybrid of African music and hard Southern soul. This track, his biggest hit, is available on several career anthologies. Of them, Africadelic: The Very Best of Manu Dibango is choice: It's got some terrific forays into boogaloo ("Wouri") as well as later collaborations with great African singers and a clever DJ Flex "Soul Makossa" remix that makes Jackson's borrowing totally clear.
Genre: World, Cameroon
Released: 1972, Unidisc
Appears On: Africadelic: The Very Best of Manu Dibango
Catalog Choice: Wakafrica
Next Stop: Fela Kuti: Coffin for Head of State
After That: Tony Allen: Lagos No Shaking
Book Pages: 222–223
#1 from Samon Simon, Los Angeles - 07/07/2012 2:40
Manu Dibango was exceptional released! I know about the Manu Dibango. It is historical and famous. Thanks!