A little over a week ago, Seyi Shay made a television appearance on Jamaica’s OnStage television show to promote her new album titled ‘Seyi or Shay.’ While there, she was asked about the controversy surrounding Drake’s alleged sampling of a large portion of dancehall music for his latest album ‘Views’. In case you are unaware, Drake has been accused of sampling songs from Beenie Man and Popcaan, among others, without credit, consent or compensation. In fact, it is alleged that his hit single ‘One Dance’ is the only song on his album that he actually credits artists whose works he sampled.
In response, Seyi explained that a similar debate was ongoing in Nigeria because Drake sampled ‘Afrobeats’ for ‘One Dance.’ She further claimed that ‘One Dance’ was written by Wizkid, produced by Legendury Beatz ( a Nigerian production team), and given to Drake. Drake then “stripped” the original song and created the new song we all know as ‘One Dance.’
Over the weekend, Seyi’s statement surfaced online and created major buzz. In response, Wizkid was quick to take to twitter to ask her to “shut up” and even claimed “she lied.” After Wizkid’s tweet, Seyi responded by saying she was “sorry” and that she was just trying to “defend” Wizkid but now realizes she was “misinformed.”
Ms. Uduak’s take? Several things:
- Artists, avoid discussing hearsay as fact. Doing so can create unnecessary legal liability and taint your credibility, especially if you will recant or claim you were wrong on the facts.
- All Seyi Shay needed to do here was add, “allegedly”to her statements when she weighed in on the controversial allegations.
- Did Wizkid write ‘One Dance’? Yes he did, but as a co-writer. Therefore, Seyi Shay’s statement that he wrote ‘One Dance’ is partly correct. How do we know this? There is verifiable information, including information from ASCAP’s ACE Repertory that list Wizkid as a co-writer of the song. Under ASCAP’s database the following are the listed songwriters: Balogun Ayodeji (Wizkid), Graham Aubrey Drake (Drake), Jefferies Anthony Paul, Reid Errol, Reid Luke, Shebib Noah James and Smith Kyla.
- Is it possible that Wizkid wrote ‘One Dance’ in its entirety, gave the song to Drake but Drake sampled it as alleged and implied by Seyi Shay? Yes, it is very plausible although Wizkid denies it. Sampling of music in the manner Seyi Shay describes is not uncommon in the industry. Also, Wizkid worked with Seyi Shay and Legendury Beatz to produce ‘Crazy’ on Seyi Shay’s album. That shows a relationship close enough for Seyi to know the information she alleges. Further, Wizkid does have a pattern and practice of denying critical news stories about him in the public eye, only to return and affirm the stories at a later date. Therefore, we won’t know the true story about his deal with Drake unless there is a courtroom legal dispute between the two where the contract is attached as an exhibit.
For now, suffice it to say Seyi’s version of the facts is not far-fetched given that Drake sampled the hook for the song ‘Do You Mind,’ for ‘One Dance.’ ‘Do You Mind’ is a song written by UK based artist Kyla Smith and her producer husband Errol Reid. The story as allegedly told to the media goes like this: the duo wrote and recorded a song titled ‘Do you mind,’ and Kyla performed the song years ago. Drake, in recent times, heard the song on You Tube and contacted Kyla to sample it. According to the alleged statements from Kyla, Drake initially wanted to sample certain limited parts of ‘Do You Mind.’ However, he was so impressed with Kyla that he decided to make her a featured guest on ‘One Dance’ and use a more substantial portion of the song.
So it is possible that a similar scenario occurred with Wizkid. Indeed, we do know that Wizkid does have a prior relationship with Drake where Wizkid wrote and recorded a song, ‘Ojuelegba,’ exclusively for Wizkid’s album titled ‘Ayo.’ Drake heard the song, sought and received Wizkid’s permission and created a remix of ‘Ojuelegba.’ So, again, Seyi Shay’s statement is plausible.In short, Seyi Shay’s statement is not far-fetched.
- Did Legendury Beatz produce ‘One Dance’? Sarz and Wizkid are the only Nigerian artists credited as co-producers of ‘One Dance’. The rest are non-Nigerian producers. In fact, initially, Sarz was allegedly not credited for his part in the song. Therefore, if in fact Legendury Beatz produced parts of ‘One Dance’ but did not receive credit or compensation, then it is the producer’s job to hire a competent entertainment lawyer to help resolve that issue.
- As an artist what are the key legal issues to be aware of when sampling music? For a discussion on the legal issues you should be aware of when sampling music, visit the following article,
Folks, suffice it to say that if industry heads are allegedly aware of aspects of Wizkid’s deal and are talking as much as they are about it, then there is a high probability that Wizkid is unhappy with the deal he received. There is also a high probability that everyone involved in ‘One Dance’ including ‘Wizkid’ did not know the song would become the global success that it is today. This is not unusual. Most people do not foresee these things, especially where Africa or an African artist is concerned. However, when success comes, especially on the massive scale that it has, it naturally leads artists such as Wizkid to rethink their deals. If they believe they got a crappy end of the stick, you better believe they are having sleepless nights over the mind-boggling amount of money they have left on the table.
In conclusion, I don’t know if Wizkid had a lawyer to help him with his deal with Drake. But, as a general rule, you should hire a competent entertainment lawyer to negotiate the best possible deal for you in situations like these.
Kyla Smith’s ‘Do You Mind’
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