Bongo Flava’s Heartbreak Anthem

Cover Art for Mbosso’s Latest Album, Khan

“Mapenzi! Yataniua!” is a phrase that has taken Swahili pop culture by storm this past holiday season, and it is all thanks to Mbosso. 

In October of 2022, Bongo Flava artist, Mbosso, released “Yataniua”, a song part of his second studio album, Khan. The album includes 6 songs of which there is a mix of love, heartbreak, celebration, and more. Yet, the one that has all the people talking is “Yataniua”, an upbeat heartbreak song that is being blasted in clubs, on the radio, and even at weddings. 

Bongo Flava’s Rising Star

Image via @mbosso_ on Instagram

Mbosso is a Tanzanian singer and songwriter notoriously known for his swift lyricism and songs centered around love and heartbreak. In 2018 Mbosso signed to WCB Wasafi record label, founded by Tanzania’s biggest Bongo Flava star Diamond Platnumz. Under Wasafi records, Mbosso has released notable singles such as “Hodari” and “Baikoko” as well as his first studio album, Definition of Love in 2021. 

Today, the Bongo Flava star has over 130,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, 2.3 million subscribers on Youtube, and nearly 6 million followers on Instagram. With the latest release of the album, Khan, Mbosso continues to take the Bongo Flava scene by storm. 

Mapenzi Yataniua!

Now, let’s discuss the hype around “Yataniua”, a song that includes a feature by Diamond Platnumz. “Mapenzi yataniua” is a phrase in Swahili that means, “love will kill me”. 

Now you may be wondering, why are people shouting such a sinister song at clubs and even weddings? 

The honest answer is that the song is relatable and upbeat. In fact so relatable, that even people who have experienced love at the lowest level can connect to the song. 

Mbosso begins the song by saying, “Aliyeumba mapenzi, hakusema yanamaumivu”. In English this line reads, “The one who created love, did not say that it hurts”. Many people can relate to the uncertain nature surrounding love and relationships. Love is often portrayed as the most desirable feeling, yet people rarely discuss the deep pains of love beyond the occasional high school breakup. 

The chorus then exclaims, “Mapenzi yataniua! Bora nitafute pesa nianze jishaua.”

In English this line reads, “Love will kill me! I’d rather find money, and love/take care of myself.” 

This line transitions the song from being depressing and pitiful to hype and optimistic about the future. If you can’t find joy and peace in love, you may be better off making a lot of money and being the source of your own happiness.  

Throughout this song, Mbosso simply encourages people to “chase the bag”, be happy, and forget about how painful love can be. 

Similar Trends of Upbeat Heartbreak Songs Across Africa

Usually bongo flava heartbreak songs are influenced by soulful rhythms and beats. Yet, in aims of making this less of a traditional heartbreak song, Mbosso turned it up a notch by using amapiano inspired beats. This is what makes people almost forget that the song is about giving up on love. The amapiano infused beat carries people beyond feelings of sadness and straight into joyful dance movements. 

We’ve seen other African artists take an upbeat spin on heartbreak songs. Most notable is Burna Boy’s “Last Last” which has been used as the backtrack of vacation reels, wedding highlights, and birthday recaps. This heartbreak song has such a positive vibe and aura that makes people dismiss the lyrics and simply turn up to the beat. 

Image via @mbosso_ on Instagram.

Mbosso’s continued stardom in the Bongo Flava space has a high trajectory, especially after the release of his most recent album. The Swahili community cannot wait to see what this rising star has to come in the near future. Until then, we” just continue to blast his heartbreak anthem and shout out, “Mapenzi Yataniua”.

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