Why the song “Mo Bamba” has made me rethink my sanity


I now understand who I am as a person and who I am as a fan of this aggressive tune.

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

I find it hard to believe that, at one point in my life, I didn’t know every word to the song “Mo Bamba.” I remember when I lost my “Mo Bamba” virginity all too well. Obviously, I was on Rugby Road when I first heard the three minutes of excessive screaming and swearing over the sound of only-God-knows what instruments. In the midst of talking to a friend, I was cut off mid-sentence when he immediately started singing along, elated that this song was playing. I had so many questions. Who even is Mo Bamba? Why does he deserve an extremely aggressive song? Why am I the only one who doesn’t know this song? I felt like that friend that everyone has in their friend group who’s never seen “The Office.” Yeah, it was that bad. I was confused, lost and, worst of all, out of the loop. Don’t pretend like you’ve never been there because we all have. There you are, standing with all your friends, Solo Cups in hand, and you’re the only one who doesn’t know the song that’s playing. I’ve been in that exact situation more than I’d like to admit. So, obviously, like any normal person, I made it my mission to get in the cool music loop. It was Mission-Mo time. 

Now, fast forward to early November. I’m in the depths of exams to study for and papers to write, and I can’t figure out if I am more proud or disappointed in myself. Yes, after several weeks and Spotify streams of the college student hymn, I know the lyrics to “Mo Bamba” better than the lyrics to our country’s national anthem. I can sing along with every other basic U.Va. student on any given weekend. I cannot control the words coming out of my mouth when I hear the distinct — and, after thinking about it, really odd — opening. It’s like a Billboard Top 100 gag reflex. It’s like Sheck Wes is my muse, and I can’t help but reply to his summoning call. To put it broadly, everyone has songs that immediately call them to elevated surfaces. For some it’s “A Thousand Miles” and others its “God’s Plan.” But, this semester, my brain has subconsciously decided that I will get the most excited when I hear “Mo Bamba.” Even if I’m at a pregame and I hear the song, you bet I’m on top of a table or chair when this song is playing. Even while studying in Alderman on my modest nights, I have stopped listening to other artistic songs to take a Bamba break. 

It was while watching Sheck Wes’s Jimmy Fallon performance of “Mo Bamba” that I realized I was going slightly insane. Quick side note, if you need to watch something funny while drowning in work, I would recommend watching this YouTube video. While your life may feel like it’s a mess, your life is definitely not as shambly as this clean performance of an extremely explicit song. But, that’s just my opinion. What’s not debatable is that I wasted four minutes of my life watching that video. And that fact lead me to question my existence for the last few weeks — the weeks in which I studied, spent time with friends and, most importantly, made it my personal mission to know everything about the song “Mo Bamba.” I was having a crisis — it was the sort of internal crisis that most college students associate with the Who am I? train of thought. But, I’m not like most girls, and my internal crises are about mainstream rap songs. It started with thoughts about my immediate decision. I just thought it was a good idea to watch this video. I just made the choice to watch this video. And it led to overwhelming questions about my identity. I like this song, but why? Am I stupid for liking this song? Am I basic for liking this song? 

After a few days, I have thought long and hard about the answers to these questions. I have gone through the 12 steps to recovery after my slight loss of sanity, and I now know I am perfectly okay. I now understand who I am as a person and who I am as a fan of this aggressive tune. I can see that I’m not only sane but also shamelessly basic when it comes to my enjoyment of “Mo Bamba.” I may also be a little stupid for liking it, and I own that now. But who cares, U.Va.? Considering the amount of times I’ve heard this song over this semester, I think most students don’t care. They all just want to sing along like me. 

Justine Baird is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at humor@cavalierdaily.com.

related stories