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The Pop Makossa adventure started in 2009, when Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb first travelled to
Cameroon to make an initial assessment of the country’s musical situation. He returned with enough tracks
for an explosive compilation highlighting the period when funk and disco sounds began to infiltrate the
Makossa style popular throughout Cameroon.
So why has it taken almost eight years from that first visit to the final compilation? From the very beginning, there were several
mysteries hanging over Pop Makossa.
What had happened to Bill Loko, the teenage super-star whose monster hit ‘Nen Lambo’ caused such a sensation that he was
forced to flee to the other side of the world? How did bandleader Eko Roosevelt go from Cameroonian prodigy to chief of an
idyllic seaside village? And who exactly was Mystic Djim, the dreadlocked producer and mercurial hit-maker whose wizardry
on a simple home four-track recorder could outshine even the mighty studios of Cameroon’s National Radio station?
It was not until DJ and music producer Déni Shain was dispatched to Cameroon to finalise the project, license the songs, scan
photographs, and interview the artists that some of the biggest question marks began to disappear. His journey from the port
city of Douala to the capital of Yaoundé brought him in contact with the lives and stories of many of the musicians who had
shaped the sound of Cameroon’s dance music in its most fertile decade.
Makossa, the beat that long before football, managed to unify the whole of Cameroon, was successful in part because it was so
adaptable. Some of the greatest Makossa hits incorporated the electrifying guitars and tight grooves of funk, while others were
laced with cosmic flourishes made possible by the advent of the synthesizer. However much came down to the bass; and from
the rubbery hustle underpinning Mystic Djim’s ‘Yaoundé Girls’ to the luminous liquid disco lines which propel Pasteur Lappé’s
‘Sekele Movement’, Pop Makossa demonstrates why Cameroonian bass players are some of the most revered in the world.
Yet at the end of it all, there was still one final mystery facing the production team at Analog Africa: how was this compilation
of amazing sounds from Cameroon going to begin? After many month and hundreds of different running orders, something
still didn’t seem to click … until one day they came across a mighty song entitled ‘Pop Makossa Invasion,’ recorded for Radio Buea,
a tune so obscure that even in Cameroon it had never been released. Suddenly the whole compilation fell into place. ‘Pop Makossa
Invasion’ makes its debut here and joins the pantheon of extraordinary songs that plugged Cameroon’s Makossa style into the modern world.