Twisting the ‘Soul of Makossa’

The Cameroonian sax-man, Manu Dibango successfully sued the late ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson for unlicensed use of a bridge in his 1972 famous song ‘Soul Makossa’.

Jackson used the bridge as a refrain in his 1982 single ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’’. which is included on the all-time best-seller album ‘Thriller’.
He has also taken Rihanna to court over the use of the same bridge in her 2007 song ‘Don’t Stop the Music’.
The bridge/refrain at the centre of the row is the ‘ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa’ taken from the word Makossa, a Cameroonian dance.
In 2007, Dibango also sued Rihanna for using the bridge after she got permission from Jackson and not the original creator.
While it’s not clear why Dibango targeted Jackson and Rihanna, the song has been sampled about 40 times since 1973 when American singer Dickie Goodman used parts of it in his song ‘Watergate’ where he satirises the late US President Richard Nixon.
In the same year, the Italian Armando Trovaioli picked up some of Dibango’s lyrics which he included in his song ‘Sessomatto’ with Jackson goosing it up in 1982. Disgraced Milli Vanilli caught onto the goosing up train in 1988 in the song ‘Girl You Know It’s True’.
The last musician to use Dibango’s song in 1988 was the American group Black Riot that featured DJ Todd Terry in the single ‘A Day in the Life’.
In 1989 alone, Kool Moe Dee (Pump Your Fist); Urban Dance Squad (Fast Lane); and Big Daddy Kane (Warm It Up, Kane) also sucked on Dibango’s lyrics.
Two groups – A Tribe Called Quest and Poor Righteous Teachers – also used the lyrics in their 1990 songs ‘Rhythm (Devoted to the Art of Moving Butts)’ and ‘Butt Naked Booty Bless’, respectively.
Year 1991, saw three groups licking the lyrics. These were Geto Boys in their song ‘Trophy’; Nicki Richards in ‘Naked’; and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch in ‘On the House Tip’.
Bloodhound Gang; Chico Science and Bali Brahmabhatt also stole Dibango’s lyrics in 1994 before the Fugees’ Cowboys; Lisa Marie Experience’s ‘Do That to Me’; and Casino’s ‘Get Funky’ did so in 1996.
It was French musician Makiza; Jay-Z and Wyclef Jean’s turn in 1997 in their songs ‘Ojo por ojo’; ‘Face Off’ and ‘Intro/ Court/ Clef/ Intro’.
Will Smith altered the bridge in his 1998 ‘Gettin’ Jiggy wit It’ but Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz as well as Makossa Magic had it raw in ‘Startin’ Something and Viva’.
Eminem was featured by Outsidaz in a song, ‘Macosa’, which included Dibango’s lyrics released in 1999 while Jennifer Lopez too featured Big Pun and Fat Joe in her 2000 song ‘Feelin’ So Good’ which uses parts of Soul Makossa.
‘Up and Down (In and Out)’ by Deborah Cox as well as ‘4 Tribes’ by Organ Donors both released in 2002 had elements of ‘Soul Makossa’ with Eminem’s ‘Hailie’s Revenge (Doe Rae Me)’ that featured Obie Trice and D12 following suit in 2003.
Seven years ago, El Chojin and Back to Basic curried the lyrics in their songs ‘Algo más que mùsica’ and ‘Mama-Kossa’, respectively, while The Caramel Club did it a year later in ‘Mama Say Mama Sa’ before Rihanna’s 2007 usage which has been contested.
There were two goosing ups in 2008 and two in 2010. There was Charles Hamilton’s ‘Brooklyn Girls’ and Jib Kidder’s ‘Havenhurst’with Girl Talk’s ‘Hands in the Air’ and Kanye West’s ‘Lost in the World’ that features Bon Iver, Alicia Keys and Charlie Wilson coming two years later.
Last year Childish Gambino’s ‘You See Me’ and Ariel Pink’s ‘Haunted Graffiti’s Farewell American Primitive’ borrowed from Dibango’s 1972 song.

November 2012
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