“Soul Makossa” is said to be the first disco record to break the Top 40, but it is better known as the inspiration for Michael Jackson’s chant in “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.'”
The chant in “Soul Makossa” is “mama-ko, mama-sa, maka-mako-sa.” What, if anything, does this mean?
“Mokossa” comes from the language Duala, which is spoken in Douala, Cameroon’s largest city. Since the 1960s, Cameroonian pop music has been dominated by a rhythmic style of dance music from Douala known as makossa. The Duala word makossa is often glossed as “(I) dance.”The chant is just a play with that word that Dibango came up with when he recorded the song. In his autobiography he says his friends and family made fun of him for it, and his father asked, “Can’t you pronounce ‘makossa’ like everyone else? You stutter: mamako mamasa.”