Manu Dibango was born Emmanuel N'Djoké Dibango in the Cameroonian city of Douala on December 12, 1933, which at the time was under French colonial rule. He grew up in a religious Protestant family, and his first musical influences came from the church. He attended high school in France and began learning instruments: first the piano, then saxophone – for which he became best known – and vibraphone. His musical career spanned across more than six decades.
Manu Dibango moved to Brussels and toured Europe with Africa Jazz under the bandleader Joseph Kabasele and spent time in Congo and Cameroun before returning to Paris in 1965. He blended the cosmopolitan styles from Africa and Europe into his own fusion, resulting in his biggest hit, Soul Makossa, with a blazing saxophone line over a breakbeat and Dibango’s spoken vocals, originally written for the 1972 African Cup of Nations football tournament. Soul Makossa arrived at the dawn of the disco era and made its way to dance floors across the United States, Europe and Africa.
|MANU DIBANGO ON STAGE|
Manu Dibango achieved a considerable following in the UK with a disco hit called "Big Blow", originally released in 1976 and re-mixed as a 12 minutes single in 1978 on Island Records. In 1998, he recorded the album ‘CubAfrica’ with Cuban artist Eliades Ochoa.
|MANU DIBANGO AND ELIADES OCHOA|
Perhaps one of his greatest advice to the upcoming African musicians in his own words is this: "Play different kinds of music before playing your own. I think that it's very important to play other people's music. As you are an African the whites expect you always to play African music. Forget that. You're not a musician because you're African. You're a musician because you are musician. Coming from Africa, but first, musician."
Manu Dibango has collaborated with many other musicians across the world, including South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekela, Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, King Sunny Ade, Don Cherry and Sly & Robbie. Other artists including Busta Rhymes and the Chemical Brothers have also sampled his tracks.
|MANU DIBANGO AND HUGH MASEKELA TOGETHER ON STAGE|
At the 16th Annual Grammy Awards in 1974, he was nominated in the categories Best R&B Instrumental Performance and Best Instrumental Composition for "Soul Makossa". The song "Soul Makossa" on the record of the same name contains the lyrics "makossa", which means "dance" in his native tongue, the Cameroonian language Duala. The song has influenced popular music hits, including Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie”. The 1982 parody song "Boogie in Your Butt" by comedian Eddie Murphy interpolates Soul Makossa's bassline and horn charts while "Butt Naked Booty Bless" by 1990s hip-hop group Poor Righteous Teachers heavily samples its musical bridge and drum patterns.
|'PAPPY GROOVE' MANU DIBANGO|
In 1986 Manu Dibango filed a lawsuit claiming that Michael Jackson stole a hook from his song, Soul Makossa, for two songs on the world’s best-selling album, Thriller. The line ‘mama-say, mama-sa, ma-makossa’ from Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin was lifted from Dibango’s chorus on Soul Makossa. He therefore sued Jackson over the uncredited interpolation, winning an out-of-court settlement with the Popstar. Twenty-three years later, precisely in 2009 Rihanna sampled that segment of Jackson’s song for her single “Don’t Stop the Music” and Manu Dibango again took them both to court, although his complaint was deemed inadmissible.
|MANU DIBANGO ON STAGE IN STUTTGART, GERMANY IN 2013|
Manu Dibango passed away on 24th of March 2020, at 86 years old, as a result of Coronavirus infection. This disease codenamed COVID ’19 is currently ravaging the whole world. Africa has yet lost another of her biggest music ambassador. Rest on Pappy Groove!