It’s that time of the year. AGAIN!
As we get closer to the end of the year, we can’t deny the fact that this was a very good year for Cameroonian music in Africa and in the diaspora. We are steadily getting there. Thank God! Like some of you know, this is the 2nd edition of my Top 12 Cameroon Songs of the year.
Many asked last year why I will prefer to release my picks but through a Fashion Blog. I believe if we wanna go further we need to tackle other nationalities too & I love diversity. The answer; ABY (Art Becomes You) actually is a fashion & lifestyle blog with a lotta foreign followers, thus a great opportunity to explore. Music is for every ear and good music will always make it no matter what. With that said, I wish I could do a Top 50 but there was space for only 12. So here we go, my Top 12 Camer Songs of the year!
Sidenote: Now before all the so-called “rap heads” & “music moguls” start the criticisms, I’m NOT saying I’m an expert but mind you that the songs I selected are not about; popularity (you might not know most of my choices but they are what you should know lol) or are they my personal favorites or about “numbers” but they are songs that I believe if an outsider (someone not from Cameroon) listens to will make us proud. They will be like, “Wow! This song is it! Cameroon has it!” Am I making sense? I think I am lol. Let me add and make something CLEAR. I personally don’t believe selling records make you a great artist. What the artist creates, the masterpiece, originality and uniqueness surrounding a song makes me see the song as DOPE. I seriously dislike the fact that most people today tend to consider a song “good” by how many YouTube views it has, or SoundCloud plays. No! I focus on the originality, rhythm and feel. That’s why I will NOT include any covers or anything that doesn’t sound Camer enough (to me). And, this is not about the producers or video directors of the videos/songs. It’s about the artists and the songs! It’s all about the 237 vibe. Enough explanation lol. With that said, let me count down the Top 12 Cameroon Songs of 2016 (according to me) & in NO PARTICULAR ORDER.
1.TENOR “Do Le Dab”
Which better song to start the countdown than this??
“Deux verres d’eau c’est beaucoup un casier c’est petit.” This is one of the first words of this song and I think it summarizes the average Cameroonian in just a sentence. The phrase in English means (in the sense) you can’t finish two glasses of water because it’s too much but you can finish a pack of beer, since it’s beer lol. That phrase right there is pretty much CAMEROONIAN. Pun intended lol
I personally believe TENOR is one of the most talented & creative Cameroonian artists of our time. He has understood the art fast enough and is using it to his advantage. Not all Cameroonian artists get it that fast. I give him that! He has this weird vibe about him and that’s what makes him undeniably exceptional. “Do Le Dab” is just that song. That song you would be sick but when it comes on you smile. The song production is everything and Nkeng Stephens (the video director) did it justice. And as much as “dabbing” is trending, the song is just the song. Tenor’s flow? I can’t wrap my finger around it but it’s different, new and very artistic. The kid will most likely last in the industry and make it to bigger things I know that. Sidenote: He actually makes his dialect sexy now. I don’t know if it’s Beti or Bulu or Ewondo but it’s from the Central Region. Lol I wanna learn it now.
2. Z-TRA “Z-tra Peut”
I bet you most people don’t know about this song, not even the said artist. But yes this song is supposed to be a hit. It’s supposed to be an anthem for young girls bullied into thinking they can’t amount to nothing. They can’t follow their dreams and make it. And they can’t live the life they want because society wants them to be a teacher, nurse or housewife. The double standards right? There are young girls out here who want to be artists, models, actresses and yes even soccer players but the people around them will always discourage them they can’t. Z-tra lets you know in the song that yes she can. She can do what she wanna do and yes she can create buzz too. In the second verse of the song she says: “Eto’o peut non, moi meme je peux”. That right there should be a young person’s motivation. If Eto’o can, then I can.
Z-tra to me is the new wave in the industry. We shouldn’t sleep on her. At all!!!
Her voice doesn’t even sound like her but her attitude, style and fearlessness is what a female artist has to have.
3. RENISS “La Sauce”
Ever had those songs that when the audio comes out you really don’t care and then the video drops! It becomes an overnight hit? Yesss that’s “La Sauce” for me. The video of the song turned the song into something else!!! It’s not like it’s the best video from Cameroon this year but the directing, concept and story behind it is everything. Reniss sang in Pidgin-English, French and a dialect (It sounds like a Central Region dialect to me lol I’m not sure) in order to make it very relatable to every Cameroonian and it worked! The video itself embodies what Cameroon is pretty much about; food, beer, gossip and energetic dance. That’s Cameroon as a whole. The Bikutsi flavor of the song did it for me. Then Reniss’ hairstyle? Just the fact that in the video Reniss paid tribute to one of J.D Okhai’s famous hairstyle portraits is proof that New Bell Music thinks beyond the normal Cameroonian. That’s legendary! There’s a lil backlash about the song’s lyrics, that it has a deeper & vulgar meaning. Which good song doesn’t? It’s a very good dance song and makes you forget about your problems. Congrats to Reniss for this masterpiece!
4. MR LEO “Jamais Jamais”
Who born Mr Leo?? Lol
This dude is not human! All he ever knows is making hits? “Jamais Jamais” is the BEST song from Cameroon this year in my opinion. It’s been out for just over 2 months but it is so popular back home and abroad that every wedding, graduation or whatever celebration starts with the now famous beginning of the song. I mean all around the world. I have videos to prove it. This song deserves a Grammy!
The lyrics is what every female wanna hear and what any man that has decided it’s time to let his woman know he’s done being a playboy would say. The “Jamais Jamais” hook is now a way of singing to the ladies and make them believe you. Trust me it’s trending! Mr Leo is one of the Cameroonian artists who have mastered how to successfully capture both Francophones and Anglophones, old and young, male or female and even reverend fathers. This is an artist we should be very proud is Cameroonian. The video itself is an example of what a modern Afro-Pop video should look like. Nkeng did so well! Mr Leo don’t you ever stop giving us hits, jamais jamais!
5. LOCKO “Sawa Romance”
OKAY!!! I don’t know if Angel Gabriel appeared in Locko’s dream for him to sing this song. This song gives me the chills! It’s just for someone that has been hurt in love and can’t be in it anymore except you let them know or prove they’re the one. It’s a familiar feeling for most females that’s why it’s a favorite amongst females. Locko is another artist who I don’t think knows how good he is. He’s incredible!
In this song, he sings in his native tongue Duala, English & French. His melody in the song is very pure. No strain. Plus the video girl is perfect! Cos she looks like what an average Cameroonian girl would look like; dark, medium built and very beautiful. God bless your hustle Locko.
6. PIM BOYS “Ici Au Kamer”
The title of the song is self-explanatory I guess lol
This song should be a national anthem kinda song in Cameroon but knowing the country we are from, if you don’t know someone who knows someone then your hardwork ends in your neighborhood. I bet you most people don’t know about this group of amazing and talented artists or even this song. But yes that’s why I’m here lol to help you discover things like this.
“Papa ele, yaya toh” is the highlight of the song to me. If you grew up in Cameroon then this phrase at the beginning of the song hits home and will get you emotional depending on your story.
In the song they pretty much tell you about the struggles, sacrifices and hardwork of young Cameroonians. The “wars” the young fight without end just to make ends meet, thus explaining the video concept. By the way, Nkeng Stephens murdered the video! Cameroon has never made me proud like after this video.
Sidenote: Y’all should take note of Dready (the first singer in the video with short locs and red scarf tied on his head) and Ko-C (the fast rapper at the end). I have a strong feeling they will make it huge in the industry, ici au Kamer.
7. KO-C “Balance”
And it brings us to this! Ko-C.
I think I can honestly say I’m impressed by Ko-C’s evolution. I knew he could rap (fast) and all but never knew he sings. Not only sing, but sings very good.
“Balance” is a very good song to proudly play amongst your friends from different countries. From the beat, the rhythm and his flow. Especially what the song is talking about. Most, if not all artists have struggled so hard and felt at one point like it was time to move on from music since it wasn’t helping in any way & people always thinking the music thing is waste of time. Then again, with God everything is possible! He finally is seeing the sweet of his sweat and he is thanking God since “music don di pay”.
This should be every upcoming artist’s go-to song for inspiration.
Then Nkeng Stephens (Yes him again. He’s everywhere I know lol) did the video a whole lotta justice. This song is a very good, merry & praise song.
Good luck Ko-C.
8. TZY PANCHAK “Stay With Me”
I don’t think Tzy Panchak knows how much of a very good artist he is. He’s very good! He gives me this Tuface vibe everytime I listen to him. “Stay With Me” should be our own “African Queen”. Y’all know how “African Queen” by Tuface is the epitome of an Afro-pop song by Nigerians? Yes that’s how “Stay With Me” is supposed to be for us Cameroonians. The song is over all the perfect song for any occasion with love. Breakup, birthday, wedding, death (unfortunately but yea lol) and all.
Panchak put his all in this piece I swear anyone that doesn’t like this song has some self-issues. Like you honestly actually get goosebumps when listening to “Stay With Me” no matter your present state of mind. All the words used in the song are perfectly put like it was supposed to be for a cause. The song is so good!
I’m not a fan of the video per say. I feel like the video concept was supposed to be like Mr Leo’s “Jamais Jamais” because the concept kinda goes with that video but Mr Adrenaline (the video director) did good. All in all, Tzy Panchak please “Stay With Us” and give us more very good songs like these.
9. N STAN “Mbambe”
“I di find money like mbambe. I di use my head like mbambe…”
This is a phrase I can swear most Cameroonians can relate to or have said it in their lives. Nothing truer than this. I’m sure most people don’t even know who N Stan is or even this song. Don’t mind I’m here for that lol.
The video means a lot because it depicts what the average young Cameroonian man goes through to make ends meet from truck pushing, selling secondhand clothes to riding bikes for income. Sometimes videos or songs don’t have to be about the dance, rhythm or good videos. Some songs and videos actually make you sit back and thank God for your life or pray to do better. Mr Adrenaline (the video director) did so well with the video & N Stan went there with this piece. More grease to him.
10. MINK’S “Le Gars La Est Laid”
Who knows of any bitter ex who is so hurt you left them and keep thinking the new boyfriend is ugly? This should be their anthem, ringtone and alarm tone lol
Mink’s is one of those artists that has their own style and it suits only him. Anyone who tries it will be waste of time. He just makes cursing someone out cute lol like you know what he’s saying is so wrong but you don’t care because he’s saying what’s on your mind too. So whatever lol. “Le Gars La Est Laid” is practically about a guy whose girlfriend leaves and the said guy thinks the girl’s new boyfriend is not cute. That’s pretty much it and we understand why guys love it so much. It’s their own “Single Ladies” by Beyonce lol but okay.
From the beat (Philbill is a genius) to the song format, everything is very catchy and entertaining. I’m not a fan of the video though, NS Pictures can do better. The song became very popular before the video dropped, it could have been way better. But the song is a very funny and catchy song. Trust me when I say it’s an international hit.
11. MIC MONSTA “Kwata State Of Mind”
“Wake up for le sharp na witi faim”
How many of y’all can say y’all didn’t go through that feeling?
“Only mosquitoes man no fit sleep in peace”
Anyone who ever grew up in Cameroon will understand this.
“Reme dey di wonder if ei born ndon”
And all mothers in Cameroon always have that thought in mind when things are not going well with their kids. They always feel like they didn’t give birth to the best of children, like their friends.
Those were just a few lines from the song to make people understand the title “Kwata State Of Mind”. Mic Monsta is one of the best rappers from Cameroon, undoubtedly. His perfect use of word play and punchlines in his raps earned him the name “Mayor of Punchline District” (Whatever that means lol)
“Kwata State Of Mind” is just an examination of the day to day life of young Cameroonian men trying to leave their hood to make it big but as time goes by nothing changes. But he keeps praying and working hard because he knows one day he’s gonna make it and God will answer the prayers.
The video (directed by Nkeng Stephens. AGAIN.) has some scenes with hidden meanings. I bet you nobody knew the scene in the video (at the 2:27 mark) where two girls stopped Mic’s character in the video and gave him a snapback represents the two KREEF ladies and the cap represents the KREEF label signing Mic Monsta. That’s why after that he woke up, looked over at the snapback and smiled. You didn’t catch that, did you?
Okay that’s what makes Mic Monsta a very good one. Go Mic!
12. MAGASCO “Zamba” featuring Jacques-Greg Belobo
Ok. Ok. Ok.
I know most Magasco fans will wonder why “Belinda” didn’t make the list, but “Zamba” did. Like I stated earlier above, I’m not only about how popular a song is but how deep and good it is. And something someone from another country could listen to and make us beam with pride. “Zamba” is that song! I always say that Magasco is like the Cameroonian R. Kelly. We all know how good he is and can be and a lotta artists look up to him so he doesn’t have to do much to prove himself anymore. Get it? Ok.
“Zamba” actually means GOD in some Central Region dialect (I guess singing in Central Region tongue is the new thing now but ok).
“Zamba” which is the first gospel song from Magasco came at the right time when English speaking Cameroonians are fighting for their rights to be treated equally and not be marginalized. This is the period the Anglophones need God and what better song than this?
The song has a very good feel to it. It soothes the soul and makes you forget about the troubles you are or was facing. Just makes you wanna leave everything to God.
Who else to complete the amazing song than Jacques-Greg Belobo, the famous Cameroonian opera singer in Paris.
At the end of the day, this is the song to listen to when feeling down, feeling happy or just chilling but thanking God for your life.
Good job Magasco!
The above list was my Top 12 of 2016 from Cameroon.
I wish it would have been a Top 40, because there are like 15 other songs that I wanted to make the list but these are the ones in my opinion that made an impact one way or another.
And yeah, most of your favorites did NOT make it. It doesn’t mean they’re not good enough but I was focused on the originality, relatable and very good songs that an outsider can listen and share with friends. I know about 50 very good, original and relatable songs from Cameroon but they’re set to be released in 2017.
So don’t stress much lol
See you December 2017, your personal faves might make the cut!
With that said, Happy New Year from me, to you & your family!