State Of The Music: Nigerian artistes who ‘copy’ music from others are sitting on a time bomb

In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece.

In the American and some European music industries, the use of samples is somewhat controversial. An artiste and or producer could get sued if proper legal clearances are not obtained for samples before they are used. However, that hasn’t been the case in Nigeria since the industry was still in the early formative stages.

There’s so much music that we Nigerian artistes have sampled on their songs. We built our entire music industry from playing with ideas and inspiration from the earlier generation to create our music.

From Highlife, Juju, Fuji, and more genres, our artistes have sampled and reworked earlier music to great effects. Works from our legends, Osadebe’, Oliver De Coque, and Fela Kuti, have been used extensively by new generation artistes to create new music.

Olamide and Lil Kesh sampled Drake’s ‘Legend’ on ‘Problem Child’, Runtown’s ‘Successful sampled Fugees ‘Ready Or Not’, which sampled Enya’s ‘Boadicea’. Psquare sampled Eminem’s ‘Without me’ on ‘Danger’. And also sampled Craig David’s ‘Rendezvous’ on ‘Am I still that special man’.

Modenine + XYZ’s album “Alphabetical Order” had samples on several tracks including “Flow For The Streets” produced by XYZ on which he sampled Nas’ “Hate Me Now”. Sampling is most prominently used in the hip-hop and rap genre when compared to other genres.

Our artistes have consistently failed to pay for samples, and legally clear them from the holders of the music rights. Previously, they have gotten away with it due to the small scale of our music business, and how rudimentary our influence was on the global stage.

But since 2016, our industry is expanding, and there are more international record labels looking to do business in our country and become players in the African space. That means some of the basics of the business are being set up, and free sampling, which we have enjoyed over time will have to go.

A good example of that happening right now is Skales and Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat.

Hailing from Africa in the ’70s and christened by Fela Kuti, the infectious sound of Afrobeat combines elements of jazz, funk and traditional Nigerian music. That sound has become synonymous with the Nigerian sound, and it has been extensively sampled. Almost every Nigerian artiste at the top echelons of the business has a Fela sample in their songs.

But they almost never pay for it. Only a few of them do.

Skales is currently embroiled in a legal copyright battle with the estate of Fela Anikulakpo Kuti.

The singer who is having a good run with the increasing success of his singles ‘Temper’ and the remix with Burna Boy, might just have all of that achievement clipped from him.

This is because according to sources, the singer and the estate of Fela Kuti have alerted Youtube for the video of the remix which features Burna Boy.

Produced by KrizBeatz, the ‘Temper’ remix which was reworked and sampled Fela’s “Sorrow, Tears & Blood”  and Roforofo Fight’,  had Burna Boy and Skales dovetailing to good effect. The song has a strong Afrobeat sampling with the composition and lyrics riffed in the creation of the new work.

Where Fela sang “Hey, yeah/Everybody run, run, run/Everybody scatter scatter/Some people lost some bread“, Burna and Skales replaced it with “Hey, yeah/Everybody run, run, run/Everybody scatter scatter/Hey, yeah dance don catch fire/Hey, yeah boys don start to maya.

In music, this is called an interpolation, when one singer takes the lines of another singer and changes it for his or her own purpose but without changing the melody.

The official video has been pulled down from Youtube with the page bearing the message: “SKALES – TEMPER REMIX FT …” This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Anikulapo Kuti:”

Both camps have engaged in meetings, and would work hard at creating the best possible deal that would clear the sample, and still benefit the camps.

Pulse reached out to Rikki Stein who managed Fela Kuti for 15 years until his death in 1997. Who told us via email that Skales didn’t follow the necessary procedures.

“Well, the usual procedure when using a sample or using the composition of a third party is to seek permission from the Rights Holder,” Stein said. “I don’t believe that happened in this case. I don’t know Skales personally but would strongly advise him to make the necessary overtures!”

There will be more cases like this to come. With the growth and expansion of the Nigerian music industry, all the international laws that guide the use and reproduction of materials will apply.

At some point, all of our profitable artistes who have earlier sampled music without clearing it, will have to face the law and make retribution for their actions.

Winter is coming.

Source: PulseNG Music Buzz

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