by Eromo Egbejule
The public battle between erstwhile colleagues Don Jazzy and Wande Coal is simply the latest in a string of partnerships gone sour in NIgeria’s entertainment industry – YNaija takes a look behind the hoopla
Like ixoras in harmattan, the careers of a significant number wither gradually until they dissolve into irrelevance a la Kel, after Capital Music. There are those who re-calibrate and succeed – though how well is a matter for debate if the examples are W4 and Sean Tizzle. For the most part however, it’s a contentious road that leads down to eventual irrelevance.
There are those who will put in this category the talented Brymo Ashimi Olawale, who has the unenviable privilege of being entangled in a legal romp with all the trappings of a marathon – with entertainment giants, Chocolate City Group (headed by Audu Maikori, a lawyer with a decade of experience no less), after choosing to walk away from an eight-year contract.
The rebel and his contract
This reporter discovered that unlike the standard two-album deal that applies abroad, label heads in the country prefer to give signees long-term contracts so as to get maximum returns on expenses incurred in funding their careers. A notable exception may be old-gamers, Kennis Music who reportedly give one-album deals, with an option to renew, on expiration.
An insider in the Mavin Records camp, speaking anonymously, claims that Wande Coal was given the equivalent of a – wait for it – 25-year contract.
Our source says Wande specifically revealed that when Wizkid’s initial contract expired earlier this year, the EME top brass moved to give him a 7-album deal, equivalent to a 20-year contract together with an increase from the initial percentage to 25%.
This allegedly angered the pop star who felt he was a cash cow milked a bit too harshly, and before long drips of bad blood had found their way into blogs and social media – Wizkid and his mentor, Banky W in the middle of it. While we cannot confirm the length of the new contract, reports confirm it was eventually tweaked to his satisfaction and another condition attached – that the contract be executed as a partnership between EME and Wiz’s brainchild, StarBoy Records.
Wizkid had also told close friends that Banky W, though certain about his talent had been unsure of his capacity to dominate the market. According to him, he basically had to plead to shoot videos for eventual hits ‘Holla At Your Boy’ and ‘Tease Me’, eventually getting only N500,000 to fund both. This will explain why Patrick Ellis and Kemi Adetiba, not the first choice for music videos by the industry’s heavy hitters at the time, shot them.
Bottom-line, the star boy is taking credit for his own success, regardless of what label suits think.
In the case of Brymo, it wasn’t all business disagreements, it was also him.
“Brymo’s attitude was something else,” reveals a former Chocolate City staff. “He was always pushing for the attention MI is getting, making unreasonable demands even. From what I hear, the release of #SonofAKapenta was cancelled twice by Audu privately before MI intervened.”
But in both cases, the artistes made it clear they preferred to be masters of their own destinies.
140, no character
It would be fine if this was where it ended. Unfortunately, the proximity to the limelight affects every decision so that Twitter appears the preferred medium for conflict resolution on legal and financial disagreements amongst Nigeria’s artistes.
Don Jazzy, at a time unofficial Nigerian Twitter overlord with a blue badge in tow, surprised people this time around, when he joined what Wande called the ‘Twitter Attention Syndrome’ and joined the bandwagon. To hear reports tell it however, he went out of character prompted by the First Lady of Mavin, Tiwa Savage.
It is claimed that Ms Savage, who has a record of confrontation on social media, took a break from enjoying her great year of endorsements and an engagement and drew Don Jazzy’s attention to the Baby Face track, urging her boss to draw the public’s attention to the intellectual copyright infringement straight away rathen than behind-the-scenes dialogue.
“Tiwa was the one who told Jazzy about the song release,” the friend of Wande’s insisted. “Jazzy was angry and picked his phone to call Wande on the spot, but she urged him to make it public first. You know she has always seen herself as D’banj’s replacement and Wande should be under her.”
Call me maybe
If all Don Jazzy wanted were the credits, or at least the regard of permission, wouldn’t it have been easier for everyone, and for the business relationship – indeed the relationship across board – if this had been settled cautiously and perhaps sustainably?
“Don Jazzy just wants credit,” says Dro Ameh who managed A&R for Question Mark Records, itself a veteran of artiste battles, and now Chief Blogger for Soundcity. “Wande did inputs when the original was made but that doesn’t give him the right to redo the song without crediting Don. He should have done the right thing.”
The right thing unfortunately, depends on whose side any number of industry players stand. And in an industry known more for sweeping things under the carpet than resolving them formally or strategically, very little might be heard moving forward – at least until the next tweet, or – if fans are lucky – the next dis track.