Manu Dibango sues Michael Jackson

It’s the story of a little song about nothing at all. The B side of a 45 rpm, at the heart of a controversy that has not ended for twenty-five years. This song, “Soul Makossa”, is signed by Manu Dibango. At 75, the artist has just summoned Michael Jackson and Rihanna for plagiarism before the Paris tribunal de grande instance and is claiming a total of 500,000 € and the payment of his copyright.

It all started in 1972. That year, the Cameroonian saxophonist composed an anthem for the African Football Cup. “Soul Makossa was on the B side, the song made the kids laugh because of its refrain Mama Ko, Mamassa, Mamakossa. Some time later, American producers came to find African music in Europe and they fell in love with this song which was a success across the Atlantic. “

“If I had been Johnny or Sardou, things would have been different”

In 1982, while recording the now legendary album “Thriller”, Michael Jackson slips part of Dibango’s song at the end of his brilliant “Wanna be Startin ‘Somethin'”, without the consent of the person concerned and above all without crediting it on the cover. “I learned it unexpectedly,” recalls Manu Dibango. A friend who worked at the UN in New York sent me a greeting card adding: and well done for the collaboration with Michael Jackson. I was both flattered that one of the greatest artists of the century would take me back. But he was also making a lot of money pretending to be the songwriter. »Small not insignificant clarification:« Thriller »is still the best-selling album in the world today, with nearly 104 million copies sold in twenty-five years.

So, quickly, Manu Dibango initiates a David-style procedure against Goliath. “My record company gave up. It was I who paid for everything, I’m sure if I had been Johnny or Sardou, things would have been different. In 1986, the musician finally reached an agreement with the representatives of Michael Jackson. “They paid us two million francs: one for me, one for my publisher. In return, Manu Dibango waives his rights to “Wanna be Startin ‘Somethin'”. On the other hand, he retains control over future adaptations of “Soul Makossa” and any extracts used.

The case had remained there, until last year when the Cameroonian still felt betrayed. Simultaneously, he sees the release of a remix of “Wanna be Startin Somethin ‘” signed Akon for the 25th anniversary of “Thriller”, and the song “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna. A worldwide hit sold over 7 million copies which also contains the famous “Mama Ko Mamassa, Mamakossa”. “Once again, either way, I’m not credited and Michael Jackson is even considered the songwriter for the piece. “

And that’s not all. In their disc published at the beginning of the year for the benefit of the Restos du coeur, the Enfoirés slipped in a medley a nod to Rihanna but, there too, neglected Manu Dibango. “This is what hurts me the most. I have been living in France for sixty years. I even worked with certain artists who are in the Enfoirés and they forget me. The record companies of each have been taken to court and Manu Dibango’s lawyer, M e Laurence Goldgrab, will plead a summary on February 3 to demand the blocking of copyright in France of Rihanna. It also calls for the outright ban of the songs concerned. Contacted yesterday, Universal, the singer’s record company, did not wish to speak on this “current affair”.

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