Soul Makossa (1979), Manu Dibango.

Cameroonian singer-songwriter Manu Dibango has died while suffering from Covid-19. He was 86 years old. Dibango’s death was announced on his Facebook page: “It is with deep sadness that we announce you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove.”

Dibango played both the saxophone and the vibraphone and is particularly known for his work in jazz and funk music. His most popular track is Soul Makossa (1972), whose “ma-mako, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako ssa” refrain has been sampled in several songs through the decades, mostly in funk, disco, and later, hip-hop genres.

However, Michael Jackson had borrowed this part for the song Wanna Be Startin Somethin’ from his superhit 1982 album Thriller, but without Dibango’s permission – and to top it off, he wasn’t even credited in the record.

Wanna Be Startin Somethin', Michael Jackson.

According to a New Yorker obituary for Jackson, the megastar and Dibango settled the matter out of court, and the two became friends.

But again when Rihanna sampled this section from Jackson’s song for her track Don’t Stop The Music, and didn’t credit Dibango (for Jackson never asked him while giving Rihanna the permission to sample Wanne Be Startin Somethin’), Dibango sued both singers. The case wasn’t ruled in his favour.

Twitter users, including Cameroonian rapper Jovi and DJ-music afficiando Gilles Peterson, shared tributes in Dibango’s memory and expressed their fondness for Soul Makossa.