Track of the week #19 – Manu Dibango ‘Soul Makossa’

Hailing from Cameroon, Manu Dibango is a critically acclaimed saxophone and vibraphone virtuoso. Throughout his career, the eccentric musician has blended the styles of jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian music across a staggering seventy two albums. Dibango has been described by many as one of the largest and most influential contributors in African musical history. Many critics place his influence as up there with the likes of such famous African musicians as Fela Kuti and Ali Farka Toure. Dibango’s musical career started in the early fifties where he traveled around Belgium, France and the Congo experimenting with a plethora of funky and diverse sounds. His real success came in 1972 however, when Dibango released the album ‘Soul Makossa’ named after his the album’s main track and, coincidentally, this week’s track of the week.

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Dibango’s influence on African music really is no joke. He single-handedly infused up and coming African disco with the traditional Cameroonian makossa sound, creating a groove quite like no other. This week’s track of the week was exactly the kick start that the disco scene needed. The funky, upbeat and energetic composition led to fellow makossa musician to produce a wave of peppy and vivacious dance music.  Dibango ensures that he bears an element of continuity in each song, they all follow a similar pattern. However, when your music is described as “entrancingly, groovingly, hip-rollingly gorgeous” perhaps that’s repetition isn’t such a bad thing. The track ‘Soul Mokassa’ is the perfect example. The song is a fine amalgamation of all African disco elements;  rolling bass lines and exuberant horns guarantee a scorching and fiery number. Diabango laces the funky rhythm with the catchy line ‘Mama-se mama-sa ma-ko-mo-ko-ssa’ and what can only be described as “a ridiculously pimped out sax riff”, a riff which can easily catch you off guard; So, if you don’t like sudden noises, brace yourself as it’s not exactly subtle, however Dibango’s undeniably boss aurora guides you through the track like a walk down a beach on a hot summers day.

As the weather picks up and the sun begins to look promising, it’s music like this which ensures a speedy transition between spring and summer. Thanks to Manu Dibango and ‘Soul Mokassa’, we have a world of feel-good, amazing African dance music to enjoy.

Listen & enjoy here –

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