He does not tell us what President Biya’s daughter Brenda wants from him exactly but that one short line from his new single “Njama Njama cow” tells volumes. With only three songs in his repertoire, Stanley Enow is already sounding very musically “presidential”.
A year ago, few people in Cameroon knew who Stanley Enow was but the release of his third single and the varied reactions to the song is a measure of the stratospheric rise to notorierity of the rapper/hip hop artist who likes to call himself “bayangi boy”. His first single “hein pere” has more than 500.000 views on Youtube which embarrassingly, is the highest number of hits for a Cameroonian musician on the social media site. Compare that with 25 million plus views for Nigerian D’banj’s song “Oliver Twist”, 21 million plus for “Chop my money” by P Square or the 12 million plus for Flavour Nabania’s “Nwa baby”!
Because he is perfectly bilingual and sings in both official languages and creole, Stanley bridges the traditional language barrier that is an obstacle to musicians who sing in only one of the two official languages.
He also learnt a golden rule from now disbanded army band Golden Sounds. Old Childrens’ lullaby’s sell volumes.
Golden Sounds’ single “Zangalewa” was a massive commercial and critical success. The song was so big that Colombian diva Shakira did a cover for the South African world Cup in 2010 which she titled “waka waka”. The group simple fused familiar childhood songs with their catchy tunes to produce one of their best known songs. Enow has done the same in “Tumbouboss” and “Njama njama cow”.
When I first heard “hein pere”, I thought the song childish and nonsensical and had no idea why it was a hit across Cameroon. I have since changed my mind. Last December, “Bayangi boy” became the first musician to play live during the final qualification match between Libya and Cameroon for the World Cup in the capital Yaounde. Some 50.000 fans sang and danced along with Enow as they repeated his now famous hein pere reference. Cameroon won the match so in a strange way, he helped the team qualify for the world cup.
Enow’s music is different, catchy, noisy and some will say, silly. His music however leaves nobody indifferent. You either loathe his music or like millions of people across Cameroon and increasingly around the world, you become an hein pere enthusiast. Enow became the first Cameroonian musician to win the prestigious MTV Best New Act 2014 award easily beating Burna Boy (Nigeria) Heavy K (South Africa) and Uhuru (South Africa) nominated in the same category.
Reactions to “Njama njama cow”, the refrain to a childhood lullaby has left music lovers aghast at the childishness of the song or wanting more of the songs of the maverick singer. “Anyone who listens to #NjamaNjamaCow Knows Stanley has found the secret. Not complicated but yet super addictive”, a fan tweeted. Another fan Dobra Gusovich posted on Facebook “wow I’m impressed this one going even harder than those before….can’t wait to see the video”. Not impressed with the song, another tweet read simply; ”boring”. His management team says Enow will soon release his first album “Soldier Like My father” but fans must now content themselves with his singles.
Enow describes his new song “njama njama cow” as “crazy” in an interview he gave in south Africa soon after winning the MTV award and promised to produce a crazy video to match. He also described himself as “…French Africa’s best rapper ever” in the same interview, The jury still has to be out on that one. Enow agrees his songs sound silly but he has a strong message behind each of them. They all chart his difficult upbringing and how he managed to overcome all obstacles in a determined effort to have a better life than the one his parents were able to give him and his siblings during their early life in Bamenda and Bafoussam.
On a visit to Cameroon recently, I tried a couple of times to interview Enow but just could not get through to him. He now has the trappings of a big star around him. You need to pass through two different people and excerpt you are close to him, cannot even speak to him directly. “Bayangi boy” now has a manager, hangers on and a London based PR company ModeMaison promoting the man and his music.
Like or loathe his music, Enow is now a household name across Cameroon and has performed in a few African countries and recently performed in the French capital Paris.
The sky as they say, is now the limit for Cameroon’s own “Bayangi boy”.