Friday, June 13, 2008

I wonder if Rihanna knows?

Anyone with a radio knows that Rihanna's 'Please Don't Stop the Music' was a huge hit in the fall, rivaling only "Calabria" [the version with Natasjia, R.I.P.] in number of times played during a single party. Rihanna's song made me stop the first time I listened to it all the way through. I'm not exactly a fan of hers. Putting diplomacy aside for a moment, the girl can't really sing and I'm bored to tears whenever she performs at award shows. She lucky she's as gorgeous as she is. But yes, the song: the song, as we all noticed, uses the "mama-se mama-sa, ma ma makossa" refrain we hear in Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", which he borrowed from Manu Dibango's 70's classic Soul Makossa.

Ladies and gentlemen, please do not sleep on Soul Makossa. Some call Soul Makossa the birth of disco, which is clearly before my time but that doesn't mean I don't turn it on before going out. But it's a lot of fun just for dancing around your room in your underwear [ssshh don't tell anyone I do that] or cleaning.

Manu Dibango is a jazz saxophonist from Cameroon. When this song came out in 1972, it went to Europe and was a huge, huge hit in clubs, which is fitting since Makossa means "dance". It hopped the pond and was the first song by an African to make it big on the Billboard 100 chart, but not before spawning something like 20 covers [at first no one could find the original so people tried to capitalize on the demand]. And can you blame them? It's a crazy-fun song with catchy horns and the strings of the 70s that got even the staunchest wallflowers on the dance floor. Then Michael Jackson jacked his lyrics without his permission! The nerve! They finally settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money (read: a lot) and Michael Jackson went on to have yet another hit. Dibango went on to have a successful career managing nightclubs and fusing all kinds of music to get something great. [Click here for more about Manu Dibango's career.]

So I wonder if Rihanna knows she ripped off a rip off of a 70s classic? Hmm...

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