Soul Makossa Baby!!!
Makossa is a lively urban popular music danced to in clubs in Cameroon’s cities. The funky bass rhythm, horn section, and vocalists create a unified sound, urging the dancers to move in rhythmic motion. Compared with Zairian soukous, makossa’s sound is leaner, using fewer instruments and more musical space. Western instruments are dominant in makossa — horns, guitar, bass guitar, drums, and piano. The “kossa” dances of young Douala children, with its hand-clapping accompaniment, are the origins of the makossa style. These were combined with Latin influences, popular music from other countries in Africa (especially Nigerian highlife), and Congolese rhumba to create this vibrant sound. Makossa has developed over the years in Cameroon. A precursor to makossa, ambasse bey, was a guitar music played in the neighborhoods of Douala in the 1950s. Although people experimented with creating different variations of music in both urban and rural areas of Africa, it was not until the early 1960s that makossa began to be recorded by Eboa Lotin, a guitar and harmonica player who composed and sang songs. Misse Ngoh, a singer and guitarist known for his fingerpicking style, transformed makossa even further. Manu Dibango’s album Soul Makossa, released in the early 1970s, drew international attention to Cameroon and its unique musical sound. Dibango’s resonant voice and lyrical saxophone provide a distinct flavor to this urban music. By the 1980s, new-look makossa emerged. Major artists, such as Dibango, continue to experiment with and adapt the makossa sound according to their own artistic creativity.