Besides having an eerily haunting sound, “Makeba” by Jain climbs up in your soul and makes you addicted to the beat. Released in 2015, it was popular then, but it has started to trend again and this might be the reason why.
When Jain first released “Makeba,” did she know what hit she had on her hands? She probably felt it would make a great club favorite that pulled people out on the dance floor to grind with the unique blend of rhythm and phonics. But it became an anthem with some people knowing what it actually meant versus fans who just enjoyed its funky vibe.
It was in 2015 that Bill Hader had a famous skit about Alan, a robot who has several modes of dance that he performs in a box. It’s just a simple skit, but what Bill does with it makes the whole skit increasingly hilarious.
Let’s put that thought on hold for a moment. Just remember that this skit exists and we’ll come back to it in a second.
Three years later, “Makeba” was the theme song for a Levi’s commercial. When two elderly dancers take the floor and show all the “youngins” out there how to do it, that was “Makeba” they were dancing to and the song gained new life.
In 2023, TikTok brought the song back to life. It’s also responsible for bringing the Bill Hader skit back to life, and the song is hitting in a completely different way. It just might be a song that never goes away, and I hope it doesn’t. I like its vibe, and there’s more to the song than just being a commercial.
In the song, Jain is singing about Miriam Makeba. She was a singer and activist they called “Mama Africa,” a name referenced in the song.
My favorite version of the song is the live version. Yes, there is a DJ adding some interesting sounds to the song. But this is live with a band and that’s the kind of music I love.