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Chris K

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Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo what???

One of the positive results of all the hoopla surrounding Michael Jackson's death is the fact that a lot of his music is getting played again more than it had been recently.  Which brings to mind a question that has been haunting many of us for a long, long time: what the heck is Michael saying during "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" when he says the nonsensical line, "ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa??"  Well, I found the answer!  The story goes like this.  Way back in 1972, an African pop star named Manu Dibango created a song called "Soul Makossa," based on the Makossa, a Cameroonian dance.  In the song, Dibango stretched out the word "makossa" into "ma-mako, ma-ma-ssa, mako-makossa."  Evidently Michael came across Dibango's music at some point in the next decade, twisting the lyric yet again into what we hear in "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin."  So now we know, Michael was singing "ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa," which was a lot a random syllables added to the name of an African dance!  I'm sure you will sleep much better tonight knowing this musical tidbit!  Rihanna even used the lyric at the end of her hit "Don't Stop The Music" a year ago or so, so Dibango's music for a couple of reasons has found its way into the 21st century!


07/14/2009 1:23PM
Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo what???
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