Not since the early 90s Cameroon’s popular music has witnessed this level of international recognition. Back then, Makossa was still ruling the African scene, when artists such as Lapiro de Mbanga (R.I.P.), Prince Eyango, Sam Fan Thomas or Charlotte Mbango (R.I.P) where serenading the streets of Lagos, Abidjan, Nairobi or Dar Es Salaam. I still remember when in 2007, from the back seat, listening to a Sam Fan Thomas tune from a Kisumu cab’s stereo. The cab driver, unaware that I was Cameroonian, shared his love for the Makassi artist. The same scenario repeated itself in Kigali few months later, when I rode in a cab filled with Charlotte Mbango’s melodies. I also remember a former classmate of mine from Zambia reminding how Prince Eyango’s “You must calculate” was so popular in Zambia that it competed with the country’s national anthem.
Back then, Cameroon’s music had so much power and following in Africa that nobody could imagine a future without the mighty Makossa’s featuring at parties. Then came the 2000s, during which Cameroonian music went totally missing. First, the Ndombolo for the Congos completely outdid the Makossa in Africa in General. Then came the Mapouka and the Couper Decaller from Cote D’Ivoire, which appeared to drive the last nail on the Cameroounian music’s coffin. All these occurrences were just symptoms of deeper problems. During the years makossa dominated Africa and after this domination, the masters of Makossa music completely stuffed any attempts by the youth to incorporate contemporary trends to the music. Any inclusion of the en vogue trendy beats, rhythms or melodies were frowned upon by the purists. As a result, creativity was stifled, and makossa music became flat unengaging and sounded more like tasteless cover of old tunes. Only artists such as Petit Pays could keep Cameroon’s name on the African popular music map.
In the meantime, a revolution was slowly brewing in the urban centers of Cameroon. The youth, who have been cast out by the makossa gate-keepers, had embraced the hip-hop movement and were quietly laying down rhymes after rhymes, the verses of Cameroon hip-hop revolution. They are eager to express their frustrations regarding the miseries of life in general, and the fate of their generation that many have labeled the “Loss Generation”. Successes by artists and bands such as X-Maleya, Bantu Posi, Koppo, Boudor, Bali Squad and many more were just the sign of the brewing volcanic eruption ahead.
Stanley Enow, for this just his first act, seems to have federated all African (hip-hop) urban music lovers with his single “Hein Pere”. The follow up single “TumbuBoss” is not too shabby either. S. Enow is officially the first Cameroonian act that has been nominated for the MTV African Music Awards, which may be a sign of the resurgence of Cameroon’s Music in Africa