Dominic Ambrose Blogblot

of words: narrative, film and non-fiction

How did Minina Tora become Abusadora, la Muchacha Loca?

Yes, that’s the question. If you have the answer tell me. All I can do is look at the evidence in this

Jean Diarra

complicated case of musical cross-pollination (some would say theft). The fact is, that technology has brought us to the situation where anyone can sample and remix anyone else’s work, change the words and the names, broadcast it around the world and claim credit. In many ways, this is unethical, and in other ways, it’s just the way it’s always been. Decide for yourself as you ponder the strange case of the Senegalese song of mourning that became a merengue sensation. Along the way it has been remixed by dozens of dj’s, and its language misidentified as Russian, Italian, Portuguese, South African and anything else people can thing of.

Tora Tora

The song began life as Minina Tora, or Tora Tora. It is a traditional Senegalese song. According to several blogs, the song is sung by people who are mourning the death of a loved one. That’s pretty bizarre, but it is the only explanation I have seen. I guess it was sung just a bit out of context. That was the first dubious connection.

Minina tora, i tora tora tora simama simawo ika tora tora

Ayo! Ayo! né né Minina tora Djankabi né na tora eh! Ayo né Né

Here is the recording by Etnorchestra, an Italian group with a Senegalese singer, Jean Diarra, born and raised in Dakar. The song is featured on the album Tribal Samba from 2005 (record label Level 49). The song is quite different from the other reggae songs on the album, which is further evidence of a folk origin. The song was an immediate success, and according to the record label’s website, the song was included in the Caterpillar White Album compilation in November, 2005 put out by Italian state radio RaiDue. This is the vocal that has been sampled over and over again, with or without credit:

Ininna Tora

Very early on, the song entered the house, i.e., the electro house disco scene. Stylus Robb made a mix of the song, now called Ininna Tora. It used Diarra’s voice over a deracinated tektonic euro-pop soundtrack. There is a link to Stylus Robb on Jean Diarra’s myspace page, so I presume that this was all legit. But even if this was not a rip-off, this was where the disconnect began.The DJ Nick Corline, who works the “fabulous” disco circuit from Verona to Ibiza to Cali, Colombia, got his hands on it. His remix was a big improvement, and it was this version that would have legs. Nick Corline’s June 2008 remix of “Stylus Robb – Innina Tora,” was then taken up by other remixers and dj’s with little regard for proper crediting. There are no credits for Etnorchestra or at the very least, the singer Jean Diarra on any of the online samples, videos and mp3s of Nick Corline’s mix. Corline’s myspace page claims that his remix was the ninth most downloaded house song of 2008. The remixes multiplied, now crediting Nick Corline, each throwing in a few more electronic bells and whistles, adding nothing to the artistry, but giving more people the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and take as much credit as traffic would allow. However, Corline’s remix had just the right mix of vocal and dance track, and it got played at the all the “fabulous” discos along the Mediterranean and across the ocean in Brazil in the next few years. The piece is now Innina Tora, all sexy and fashionable, its Etnorchestra origins getting vaguer all the time.

Abusadora

Next, the song put down roots in Latin America. It acquired Spanish lyrics. A Puerto Rican duo named Yaga and Mackie known for their reggaeton sound, put out an album in 2008 called Los Makiavelikos. It included a version called “Abusadora.” It is the Stylus Robb – Nick Corline remix with Spanish lyrics. sung in an electronic vocal that preserves a bit of the distinctive quality of Jean Diarra’s original Senegalese. To give it a gloss of originality, it throws in a verse in the Caribbean rap style first made popular by El General in Panama a generation ago, and a few standard issue reggaeton touches for good measure.

Abusadora, loca, loca, loca. se descontrola cuando este ritmo toca.

A dj Morpheus remix:

Muchacha Loca

Another Spanish language remix is Muchacha Loca, signed Los Tiburones. The African voice has given way to a Caribbean one, but still very distinctive. The tektronic sound is still there, and the keyboard bridge from Stylus Robb’s version has been redone in a very clumsy way. Still, there is a new tropical touch.

Here is Neon from Los Tiburones introducing it: “a new song” (2008):

the full Tiburones version…

muchacha loca, vive la vida loca, cuando ella baila sexy, eso me devora.

More remixes by the likes of DJ Luisdonaldo, DJ Vampiro, and on and on it goes.

Merengue!

The completed transformation. Toby Love, with Ricky Martin style trumpets recalling “La Vida Loca,” and a very fast dancehall merengue tempo. Electronic vocal, orchestra, very well executed by the crooner turned merenguero.

Cuando ella baila sexy, eso me provoca.

Algo está quemando, he says. Yeah, you’re right, Toby, something is burning, I think it’s the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. But that’s not Toby’s fault. It is quite possible that no copyright laws were actually broken along the way. The fact is, our ability to disseminate information has long ago made copyright laws inadequate and anachronistic. There should be a way to guarantee the preservation of information regarding the origins of work, and if possible, a means of distributing profits equitably if someone’s work is used to make money further down the chain. In my opinion, new laws should also protect the right of free duplication for personal use and for blogs like this. 🙂 The more publicity that art receives, the larger the following and anyway, there is no way to hold back the ocean, so you might as well give it space.

In the meantime, I am not overly concerned, except maybe for the people of Senegal, who might feel a bit exploited, given that their song of mourning has now become a sweaty dance hit about a voluptuous tease who shakes her booty in front of all the guys. Other than that, I’ll just listen: there’s room enough in this world for Jean Diarra’s great original and Toby Love’s slick, hot and sticky Muchacha Loca and (some of) the stuff in-between.

Advertisements

January 28, 2010 - Posted by | music | , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Great work! Thank you very much for the history and info! 🙂

    Comment by Gary | September 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. The very worse part, the very ironic part is that the Tiburones demanded Youtube to remove the merengue song… cause Copyright infringment!!!
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    They pirated the song and demanded??!!
    Crazy world!

    Comment by cablop | October 25, 2010 | Reply

  3. You couldn’t be more factual!!!

    Comment by Multi Floor | November 25, 2011 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: