"Soul Makossa" is a song released as a single in 1973 by Cameroon saxophonist and songwriterManu Dibango. It is often cited as one of the first disco records. In 1972, David Mancuso found a copy in a Brooklyn West Indian record store and often played it at his Loft parties.[2] The response was so positive that the few copies of "Soul Makossa" in New York City were quickly purchased.[2] The song was subsequently played heavily by Frankie Crocker, who deejayed at WBLS, then New York's most popular black radio station.[2] Since the original release was so obscure, at least 23 groups quickly released cover versions to capitalize on the demand for the record.[2]

Later in 1972, American-based Atlantic Records licensed the original Manu Dibango version from French record label, Fiesta, and released it as a single (with the side-two track being "Lily"). The single would peak at #35 on the US BillboardHot 100 chart in 1973; at one point, nine different versions of the song were on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time.[2][3][4] The song would also become an international hit leading to even more cover versions by various groups around the world.[4]

The song is probably best known for the chanted vocal refrain "ma-mako, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako ssa", which was adapted and used in songs by many prominent artists such as Michael Jackson on his track "Wanna Be Startin' Something" from his 1983 smash album Thriller and Rihanna on her 2007 hit single "Don't Stop the Music" from one of her most successful albums, Good Girl Gone Bad.

"Soul Makossa" was originally recorded as the B-side for "Mouvement Ewondo", a song about the Cameroon national football team.[4] Manu Dibango later recorded a new version for his 1994 album Wakafrika.

In 2011, a second version of the song entitled "Soul Makossa 2.0" was recorded in France by Manu Dibango and Wayne Beckford and was issued as the first single from Dibango's album, Past Present Future.


 [hide*1 1973 US single

1973 US single[edit]Edit

Track listing[edit]Edit

  1. "Soul Makossa" (4:30)
  2. "Lily" (3:02)


  • Manu Dibango (writer, arranger, vocals, saxophone)
  • Georges Arvanitas (piano)
  • Patrice Galas (piano)
  • Joby Jobs (drums)
  • Manfred Long (bass guitar)
  • Freddy Mars (percussion)
  • Manu Rodanet (electric guitar)
  • Pierre Zogo (acoustic guitar)


Chart Peak


US Billboard Hot 100 (1973)[5] #35
US Billboard Hot Soul Singles (1973)[5] #21

Adaptations and samples[edit]Edit

The song's refrain consists of the phrase "ma-mako, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako ssa", which is a play in the word "Makossa", Dibango's main music genre. After the popularization of the song, the phrase was adapted and used in several popular songs including the following:[6][7][8]

Cover versions[edit]Edit

  • Catelli Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra (Village)
  • Fania All Stars Live San Juan 73[9](Fania, 2009)
  • Guerra '78 (Discolando)
  • Jablonski (Randy's)
  • Babatunde Olatunji (Paramount, 1973)
  • Lafayette Afro Rock Band (Musidisc, 1973)
  • Afrique (Mainstream Records 1973)
  • Mighty Tom Cats (Paul Winley)
  • Pop Highlife Band (Makossa)
  • Saviñon, Victor (Oro Disco)
  • The Afrosound (Discos Fuentes, 1973)
  • Zamot, Johnny (Mericana)
  • Afrika Bambaataa (Tommy Boy, 2004)

Michael Jackson/Rihanna lawsuit[edit]Edit

Rihanna's 2007 hit single "Don't Stop the Music" uses samples from Michael Jackson's 1983 single "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'". In February 2009, Dibango filed a lawsuit against the two singers, claiming that both songs stole their "mama-say mama-sa mama-ko-sa" hook from "Soul Makossa" without permission. According toAgence France-Presse, Jackson admitted that he borrowed the line and settled the case with Dibango out of court. However, when Rihanna had asked Jackson in 2007 for permission to sample the hook, he had approved the demand without contacting Dibango. His lawyers brought the case before a Parisian court, demanding500,000 in damages that should have been paid by Sony BMGEMI and Warner Music until the issue was resolved.[10]