Before we get into I’d like to state that I’m a lover of Nigerian music, and anything I write here is solely for the purpose of doing good.I think we have some of the most talented and gifted artists in the world, and it shows by how much the music industry has grown over the past decade.
With that being said, I’d like to address an issue that has been rubbing me the wrong way for a while, and I feel like it should be addressed. I’m not trying to start any wahala but really, truth be told, it has to be said by someone.
A few years ago, we all jumped on a certain artist 🙂 when word reached the nigerian community that hit famous hit, contained samples from Se7en’s “Girls.” I covered face sha, and was kinda embarrassed. It wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be, but it was still not a good look. But then I thought about it. This probably would’ve been solved from the on set, if the press release and official documentation that go with the song come with a little line that state “samples from xyz” song.
Fast forward to today, and there are a bunch of songs floating the Nigerian market, both for sale and for free that have samples from random songs everywhere. Some obvious, and some aren’t as obvious.
With the rate at which our artists are going global, you never know what kind of lawsuit will be lurking in the background waiting to take a huge chunk of dollars from the pockets of our artists. It’s a ruthless world out there, and the lack of accurate copyright laws in Nigeria save a lot of us from some heavy fines.
Now what I’m referring to, is not the “freestyles on a beat” type of songs, because most times those are freestyles and more than not, are free. Everyone can jump on a beat and do a freestyle. No love lost there. I’m referring to taking a bit of a song here, and taking a chunk of a song there. It could be the backdrop beat, a melody there, a voice here, and some drum patterns there.
In the US and other countries with strong copyright laws, you open an album CD and read the credits and half the time, you’ll see “credits to xyz”, “sampled from abc”. Not much is really new under the sun, and so a lot of the music we have in the world today is sampled from something old, or retooled into something new. Heck, Kanye made his name by sampling old beats. But the key thing is it’s always written somewhere officially that this is sampled from xyz source, and probably cleared with the original owner . Like my professor in college always said, “It’s not plagiarism if you cite your sources.”
There’s nothing stopping our artists in 2012 from doing the same thing. Most of us are not always expecting brand new “never heard before” music all the time. Part of creativity is taking what was known as this, and transforming it to that. As we write credits for productions, images used, etc, we can always add “contains samples from xyz.” More especially for songs that will actually go on sale either as a single or in an album. If it’s free, then it’s pretty harmless as you didn’t make a dime from it. But if it will go on sale, then it’s necessary to do so. Save yourself a lawsuit in the future.
I’m not sure how many artists will read this, but for those that do I think it’s worth paying attention to as something we as a group of Nigerians in entertainment should work on.
… and for kicks here are some songs that MIGHT have been sampled from our artists and producers. Tell me if catch them (not everyone is a music head like I am so it might skip some folks). In many ways it highlights the creativity of some of our producers… Then again, maybe I’m just hearing things, and there’s no relation at all.
Ron Browz I Promise
Ramiro Garcia – Carnival Girl
Enrique Inglesias – I Like It
Brandy – Finally