Mo Bamba

Album: Single release only (2017)
Charted: 26 6
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Khadimoul Rassoul Sheck Fall is an American hip-hop artist known professionally as Sheck Wes. Born in Harlem, New York, the son of Senegalese immigrants, Wes grew up with Orlando Magic player Mohamed Bamba, with whom he shares his African heritage. He ended up naming this breakout single after the NBA rookie.
  • Recorded by Wes in about 20 minutes, the rapper wrote nothing down and recorded "Mo Bamba" in one take before uploading the track without fanfare to the streaming service SoundCloud.
  • The song draws parallels between both Wes and Mo Bamba standing on the cliff face of fame. While the rapper was being pursued by labels, his basketball-playing pal was being chased by the likes of Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan. He explained to Genius:

    "My friend Mo Bamba, who was a draft pick, asked me to put his name in the song or somethin'. But, then I started freestylin' but I was freestylin' about all the people callin' me, and I guess it was just what I was talkin' about, and I was frustrated about and I made this one-take freestyle about Mo Bamba and how I'm like Mo Bamba, like I'm a athlete. I was being recruited the same way as athletes do. So, that's why I compared it."
  • The song features an ominous beat by the producers Take A Daytrip (Denzel Baptiste and David Biral) and 16yrold (Desiigner and Ski Mask The Slump God). The trio met online and decided to collaborate at Take A Daytrip's Soho studio. "I already knew I was gonna invite Sheck to the studio, but only if the beat came out hard. We ran through a couple sounds, and I just started playing the keys on it," 16yrold told Genius. "I was really influenced by 'Live SheckWes' to make a real ignorant melody. I remember I just made that loop. I was like, 'Damn. This is hard.'"
  • Baptiste's laptop froze while they were recording, leading to the beat dropping out at the beginning of Sheck's verse. "As I'm looping it, everything just freezes. The song is still playing in the headphones, but I can't move the mouse," he recalled.

    The producers were understandably annoyed until the beatmaker's laptop suddenly unfroze, and Sheck's eight bars magically appeared. They decided to keep the effect.
  • The song doubles as a tribute to Sengalese Sufi saint Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba (1850-1927), who led a pacifist struggle against the French colonial empire. Sheck Wes' mom named her son after the religious leader and in 2016 the rapper spent time in Touba, Senegal, a highly religious city with ties to the Sufi sect of Islam.
  • Sheck revealed in an interview on Big Boy's Neighborhood that he was concerned about rapping explicit lyrics within a song named after an Islamic saint. However, ultimately he feels an attachment to the tune.

    "I named it after more than just Mo Bamba, because 'Mo Bamba' to me is like, 'More Bamba.' In my mind it's like more of Bamba, and Bamba is the saint," he said. "He left a lot of teaching and learnings in West Africa and those were the things that I was reading when I was there."
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