Posted by Samuel on Sat 02nd Feb, 2019 –
Some top Nigerian musicians have been caught in the web of copyright controversies before. These are some of those artistes.
The current saga between Danny Young and Tiwa Savage has enjoyed ample attention but the truth is that overtime, there have been many issues between musicians and actors in the Nigerian entertainment arena relating to copyright. In this piece, ADEDAYO ODULAJA takes a look at the most notable in recent times.
Dammy Krane versus Wizkid
Being proteges of two notable acts, 2face Idibia (now 2Baba) and Banky W respectively, Dammy Krane and Wizkid started out as friends apart from being fellow budding stars. That, however, went with the wind sometime in 2016 following allegations of copyright infringement levelled against the Starboy Entertainment boss.
It all started with the “Amin” singer accusing Wizkid of theft regarding the popular tune, “Baba Nla” allegedly stolen from him after a visit. Once the accusation went public, everyone feasted on it, with social media users having their say.
On his own, Wizkid, who must have felt really bad about the accusation, kept quiet through it all. By the time he would react, it was via an outburst of anger at popular Lagos club, Quilox, with reports saying he actually smashed a bottle on the head of Dammy Krane, who had boasted on Twitter about his street credentials to no end, on January 15, 2016. The event was the All Black Party hosted by Super Eagles and then Seattle Sounders FC forward, Obafemi Martins and Dammy Krane was at the club long before the “Ojuelegba” singer came in about 4am to party as well.
The fight caused quite a scene with the club’s security guys having to step in to deal with the matter, even as the Club Quilox owner, Shina Peller, reportedly took both musicians to his office in a bid to help settle matters.
Danny Young versus Tiwa Savage
In November 2018, singer, Danny Young, called out Tiwa Savage for lifting what he described as vital parts of his song, “Oju Ti Ti Won” in her single, “One” released towards the end of 2018. As is always the case, fans of Tiwa Savage on social media stepped in, dragging Danny Young for claiming that the lyrics: “Ododun la ro rorogbo, ododun la ra osa, odd dun la ro awusa,” which is a common Yoruba saying, belong to him.
Adamant, the “Welcome” singer said he is the original owner of the lyrics, stating his readiness to file a copyright case against Tiwa Savage. True to his words, Nigerians woke up on Wednesday last week to discover that the song had been removed from Tiwa Savage’s YouTube page. The displayed message following the action reads: “Tiwa Savage One is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.”
Speaking after, Danny Young revealed making the copyright claim so as to stop Tiwa Savage from continuing to profit from what is originally his, saying his lawyers, who first reached out to Tiwa Savage not long after her song was released, are still working on the matter as we speak.
Password versus Davido
He might just have had a sold-out concert at the 02 Arena in London last week but that doesn’t change the fact that Davido has had his share of copyright infringement controversy. In his case, it came from an up and coming act known as Password who accused the self-styled Omo Baba Olowo of stealing the concept and lyrics of his popular song, ‘Gobe.’ With the matter not going to trial of becoming further escalated, it is believed that they have reached an amicable resolution or maybe the man making the claims has backed down.
Steph Nora Okereke versus PSquare
Now defunct, PSquare, made up of Peter and Paul Okoye, was arguably the biggest duo on the African continent, also faced their own issue. Known to have got lyrics and rhythms from many songs by international acts, but nobody raised issue.
However, Nollywood actress, Steph Nora-Okereke, once accused the twin brothers of stealing her song, “Jeje” which she alleged that she had earlier sent to their brother, Jude to sample his opinion. While being a notable figure helped bringing attention to her allegation, the fact that she is not known to have done much regarding music did not get many on her side and it is unknown how the matter was eventually resolved before everyone involved with PSquare went their separate ways.
Blackface versus 2Baba
Everyone agrees that “African Queen” is the career-defining song of 2Baba (formerly 2face Idibia) as it is easily one of the most successful songs to come out of the African continent. But as outstanding and successful as the song is, so has the controversy surrounded its ownership, especially since Blackface, who used to be a band mate of 2face’s in Plantashun Boiz, came up to state he was a co-owner of the song in equal measure. In fact, Blackface said he is the original writer of the song, claiming that 2face, through his music label then, Kennis Music, cheated him by refusing to grant him publishing right.
With the issue yet to be put to bed since then, Blackface soon made another claim on a recent song titled “Let somebody love you” in which 2Baba featured American singer, Bridget Kelly off his 2014 album, Ascension. According to Blackface, he wrote the song but his name was deliberately misspelt on the credit which also has 2Baba’s manager, Efe Omoregbe, listed among writers. The issue has since attained a new dimension with threats and counter threats of litigation being thrown around.
With Blackface refusing to back down from the claims, 2Baba, along with his manager, went ahead to sue his former band mate to the tune of N50million last year and it remains to be seen how that will work out.
Jude Idada versus Omoni Oboli
This is from the Nollywood terrain focusing on Okafor’s Law, a movie by Omoni Oboli, with Jude Idada Idada accussing Oboli’s Dioni Vision and Filmone of copyright infringement and laying claim to the movie as his intellectual property
According to him, the actress stole his story idea for the movie and developed it without giving him due credit. So bad was this particular matter that it led to the halting of the initial premiere event planned for the movie in Nigeria as well as its cinema run. The parties eventually went to court, with the Federal High Court in Lagos ordering, through the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, advanced service of court processes in the suit.
The judge on March 24, 2016 granted an interim order stopping the premiere of Okafor’s Law scheduled to hold on the evening of same day at the IMAX Cinema in Lagos while also restraining the release of the film scheduled for March 31. The suit seemingly went in favour of the actress later, with the movie released and going on to do well at cinemas across the country but it taught everyone a few lessons.
Baba Wande versus Tunde Kelani
Apart from being a popular movie in the 90s, Tunde Kelani’s Ti Oluwa Nile has its assured standing as one of the great classics in the Nigerian movie industry. The critically acclaimed film, written by Kareem Adepoju, popularly known as Baba Wande over 20 years ago, stirred controversy many years later with Baba Wande claiming that he was cheated and deprived of his full benefits.
According to Baba Wande, he wrote the story while Tunde Kelani, through his production company, produced and financed the film after they agreed that they would split the proceeds of the movies at the ration of 70% and 30% for Kelani and himself respectively. With the movie in three parts, Baba Wande claimed that he only got the initial payment and was paid nothing thereafter, stating his willingness to pursue the case to a point.
Stating his side, Kelani said he is surprised that the veteran actor is complaining about a project done over 20 years ago. Further, he said he paid the man his dues back then and has evidence to back up such a claim.
However, the 70-year-old cinematographer noted that it is painful that the claims are coming from an elderly man, especially with the way he is handling the issue by issuing threats on the pages of newspapers despite the fact that they worked on other productions including Abeni Arugba after that.
“It is very strange. I think it is a deliberate effort to blackmail me. I think he is broke, but I am broke too; we are all broke and that is the reality. This is why I refused to reply him instantly, because it won’t be good for the Yoruba race. I don’t know who is older; he would be probably older than me, because I just turned 70. I don’t expect him to be saying all that on the pages of a newspaper. I cannot do that, because I will be insulting the institutions of our traditional rulers and all eminent Nigerians. I think it is a very simple case that can be resolved. He is also not bothered what I went through when all my works, including the films were pirated. I almost died when it happened. It pains me a lot anytime Baba Wande refers to that issue. I have various pirated copies of my works in my Lagos office. I would say that he is entitled to his opinion on the things he said about me. Meanwhile I have not said anything bad about him; not to talk of doing it in the public. There is nothing to settle; if people are interested, fine, not me. I have many challenges. I am pained because all my films have been pirated. He could not imagine what happened to me,” Kelani said.
Blackface versus Wizkid
2Baba is not the only one to have been accused by Blackface; the former Plantashun Boiz member also accused Wizkid of stealing his songs at some point. “Why Wizkid try me steal melody, dey copycat, na get me energy, me burn them me send them to the cemetery… if you copy me, me end your destiny,” Blackface sang in a single released a few years ago.
Asked to provide a background to it in an interview with Punch, he said: “If you check properly, you would realise that Wizkid’s hit, Ojuelegba, sounds exactly the same as the track 13 on my dancehall album released as far back as 2010. You need to listen to that album to know what I am talking about. The song is so similar that I think it shouldn’t be that way.”
He added: “I never really wanted to talk about it all this while but after people started checking out my new song, Killa(h), many felt Blackface sounded like Wizkid, which I didn’t like.”
Taking it to a ridiculous level as social media users accused him, Blackface further said Wizkid’s hit jam, “Ojuelegba”, is a spin off of his song, “Since you’ve been gone” off his little known 2010 album Dancehall Bizness.
“I never really wanted to talk about it all this while but after people started checking out my new song, Killa, many felt Blackface sounded like Wizkid, which I didn’t like. If you check properly, you would realise that Wizkid’s hit, Ojuelegba, sounds exactly the same as the track 13 on my dancehall album released as far back as 2010. You need to listen to that album to know what I am talking about. The song is so similar that I think it shouldn’t be that way.” Blackface said.
Back in August 2015, he had accused Wizkid of stealing his song (lyrics and sound recording) “I Like The Way” which he claimed Wizkid renamed “Slow Whine”, a song produced by Sam Klef, released in 2011 on the Starboy album and which features Empire Mates Entertainment (EME) co-founder and R&B artist Banky W.
Skales versus Wizkid
It is yet another time that Wizkid is featuring on the list as Skales, a former EME act like him, also accused him of song theft at a point. Wizkid and Skales went for each other’s jugular over the widely popular song, “Azonto” with Skales claiming that Wizkid stole the song from him.
Skales, who had moved on to Baseline Music at the time, engaged in a Twitter spat that degenerated into the use of unprintable words. The act, who was promoting his yet to be released debut album titled Man of the Year at the time, urged his followers on micro-blogging site-Twitter to name the artiste(s) they will love him to feature on the album. As a result, many artistes were suggested including Innocent Idibia (2face), Patoranking, Davido, Psquare, Pasuma and Wizkid, among others.
Skales, who was retweeting the responses of his followers, soon added that Wizkid does not have his time, with Wizkid responding soon thus: “Dude!! Lol my home is your home anytime g! U know I’m here whenever u’re ready! Blood still!”
Not buying it, Skales, obviously unconvinced, added: “No bad blood bro we family but show support to your own for real it’s not by tweeting or bare words….” In the heat of the disagreement, Skales alleged Wizkid stole his beat and made popular dance song, “Azonto” off it. A claim the producer of the beat, @Legendurybeatz faulted, saying that Wizkid paid for the song. “The Azonto beat was fully paid for by @Wizkidayo I don’t know what @Youngskales is talking about..I created that beat!!!!”
It must be added that the matter did not go beyond a Twitter spat.
King Sunny Ade versus Davido/Small Doctor
Davido and Small Doctor have also been accused of copyright infringement from no less a camp than that of King Sunny Ade. KSA’s manager, Clement Ige, called out the duo for using lyrics from the veteran Juju musician’s songs without seeking permission to do so.
Ige, who expressed dissatisfaction with the action of the young stars when it comes to using lyrics from KSA’s songs in their hit songs and not even giving credit to the original owner of the lyrics at Goldberg’s Ariya Repete Roundtable discourse in Abeokuta, revealed that young generation singers are not doing things the right way and added that their song lyrics are filled with jargon that make no literal sense.
“They use English language to speak Yoruba. Like the young man who sang ‘makole marale.’ How do you build house before buying a land? Many of them don’t give credit to the original composer of the song they adopt. They just sing it without seeking permission. That’s a copyright infringement. It’s not done in developed societies.”
“Till today, Small Doctor didn’t get our permission before and after singing ‘ijó tí m’ojó l’àná, tí wá»�n n’pariwo, oni nká»�, ola nká»�.’ And many of them are guilty of this. The Davido that used Sunny’s lyrics in his song didn’t even get it right and that’s because he didn’t ask for permission. If he did, we would have corrected him. What is ‘Kuluso ewe, agbagba ewe…?’ The line is actually ‘Seleru agbo, agbara agbo’. I know because I co-wrote the song!”