Three decades of a distinctive voice and signature love songs as well as engaging Makossa rhythmic have made Dina Bell, aka Bazor, one of the pillars of Cameroonian music and one of his ambassadors across Africa and the world.
There is method to the madness in his love lyrics: he is not just sacrificing himself at the altar of every woman he loves, he is describing in a poetic Duala, the African Bantu language used throughout his musical oeuvres, the agonies of love, in its sacrifices (the freedom and even the will sometimes we leave behind, in spite of ourselves), its mistakes (cheating and other betrayals), its lessons (in particular the unique way it makes us evolve like clay under its passionate and complicated web) and why in spite of these, loving is everything most heartfelt and most beautiful about being human.
Although most known for his love songs that can pass on the feelings his voice kindles breaking even the language barrier, Dina Bell also offers Makossa1 music, a typical sound from Douala, Cameroon made popular by international star Manu Dibango. And while we dance on the African rhythmics, there are a few lessons that slip through the lyrics of the soft-spoken artist, justifying his nickname of ‘la force tranquille’, the quiet strength. Maybe one of the reasons why he so easily gets to every single one of a listener’s heartstrings…
Dina Bell in ten songs:
- Na Tondi – from his EP release Blow, this introductory song is the hit by excellence from Dina Bell and that got all the girls believing there was still hope for that unique kind of love and love from that unique kind of man. This song was so loved that an instrumental version had to be released since the females’ voices could be so much more heard than Dina Bell’s 😉 only joking 2. Wala longo from his EP Longè (life) – forgive the long spoken monologue at the beginning, the man is truly in despair – 3. Sophie – Also from the release Blow, Dina released another heartbreaker in which he begs his lover to let him stay in spite of his cheating. This lyric extracted from the track gives its mood “I knew you were the one, yet I wanted to know whether, if you weren’t, I would still be…” (Sophie, Dina Bell; follow the link for the full quote including the original Duala lyric) 4. Sòn ésèle nika (please stop it already) – from the release “Etom’am”, My Debt – Dina Bell just knows how to sing to a partner but also an ex-partner. He speaks of his astonishment at his ex’s behaviour slandering him and asks her to please stop for the sake of and in the name of their past love. 5. Ala from the EP release Mbemb’a iyo 6. Nyuwé Dina Bell seeks the reason for the departure of his beloved and the distance between them and cries his misery. Another track from Mbemb’a iyo 7. Yoma yoma The first single and release of the hit maker, Makossa with lessons 8. Longè The introductory and title track of his EP means life and sees Dina Bell showing diverse colours of experiencing everyday’s life – Unfortunately the hit was not available for playing so instead we have another similarly popular hit Ngina muléma from Mbemb’a iyo 9. Dina la – Makossa at its most complete with repetition for the Duala learners, the wind and percussion instruments marking the rhythms, the ‘suspense’ breaks, the multiple opportunities to break into different dance phases. 10. O si diya mba – Deceptively backed by a Makossa instrumentation, this Etom’am track is actually a plea for his partner to not leave him and their child and mixes his personal sense and feeling of love and sacrifice, normally set on a quieter musical accompaniment, with his ability to arrange a true African Makossa. Of course, we can not ignore the Star Wars effects 😉 but you know, at the time, it was new and fresh, plus, what can I say but ‘May the (quiet) force be with you!