Nigerian Artistes who have had issues with their Record Label
We have seen the script a lot of times. Record Label meets artiste, decides to invest, draw up a contract, present to the artiste. The artiste who is probably super excited about finally getting a deal hurriedly signs without consulting a proper lawyer. A few years later, the artiste becomes big and is no longer fine with contract terms – that seemingly favor label more. Sometimes they call for renegotiations, sometimes the label agrees and everyone is happy. Sometimes it doesn’t end that way. Sometimes label insists they have spent a lot of money on artists and deserve every penny they’re getting. Then the thing goes skrrrr. Then there’s pa pa pa pa beef. Then there are lawsuits. Then there are physical and spiritual battles …
Yes, we have seen this script before. And it’s playing out all over again. So, starting with our favorite boy – Kiss Daniel, see 12 acts who have walked this road with their Record Label before.
1. Kiss Daniel vs G-Worldwide
No doubt, Kiss Daniel is one of the best acts in Nigeria right now. He has been making us dance since he dropped Woju in 2014 and he has a lot of goodwill in the industry. Everybody thought he had outgrown G-Worldwide and we believe he thought so too because three years ago, he announced he had started his own imprint – Flyboy Inc. News then surfaced that G-Worldwide was suing him for leaving. Apparently, he had signed a 7-year contract with them in 2013 and is therefore supposed to stay with them till 2020. According to the letter floating around, a Federal High Court Judge has signed an injunction stopping him from performing or doing any musical business till the court sits in January. Hell, he could not even use the name, Kiss Daniel. Sigh.
Anyway, Kiss Daniel responded with his own counter-suit and promised that it will be a sweet victory for him and it was.
2. Wizkid Vs EME
Before launching his Starboy imprint, Wizkid was under Banky W’s EME records. He fell out with them because of the unfavorable sharing formula – where he was allegedly getting 25% of what he made. This was at a time when Wizkid was the backbone of the label and one of the biggest acts in the country. He asked for a review of the contract, but an agreement wasn’t reached, and he left. This later led to an online spat where Banky W said he will be replaced by a better artiste. In response, Wizkid said, “I can never be replaced, you mistook my loyalty for stupidity so don’t get mad that I’ve decided to move on with my life.”
They have since settled their beef though, and there is (at least public) mutual respect between them.
As for the label, while they still make money off Wizkid’s songs, they have struggled with acts like Skales (who they kicked out at some point), Shaydee, etc, while Wizkid has gone on to be Africa’s biggest export to the world in recent times.
3. Brymo Vs Chocolate City
Depending on the side you’re on, Brymo’s beef with Chocolate City may have been caused by either of two things or both. According to Brymo, after the release of Son of A Carpenter – his debut album – the music company failed to promote him. He accused them of side-tracking him and not fulfilling their part of his contract. The label on the other hand has claimed that they fell out with Brymo because he was stubborn, had an active passion for promoting Indian hemp on his Social Media accounts, and lost a potential N20million endorsement deal with a telecoms company as a result.
Whichever it is, Brymo quit the label on Twitter and called out Audu Maikori, founder and then CEO of Chocolate City. Provoked, the label sued the artiste, claiming he had breached a five-year contract that required him to release three albums between 2011 and 2016. They got an injunction to stop him from leaving the label and to claim every one of his recordings and for a long time, Brymo couldn’t put out any material or make money. A judge lifted the injunction in 2014, and he started releasing music again. But by this time a lot of damage had been done – to his brand, and his finances. And, that was not the end of it. The case dragged on, and in 2016, the year his contract was supposed to end, the label claimed they had invested N20million in him, gotten less than N3million, and wanted N100million from Brymo in damages.
Nobody can say for sure how well Brymo would have fared if he had stayed in Choc City, but we can all agree that before the debacle, the guy had the potential to be one of the best acts in Nigeria. Without mincing words, he is not having his best time now, while the label – with acts like Koker, Dice Ailes, MI who doubled as the CEO – was doing relatively well.
4. Asa vs Question Mark Records
Those were not just lyrics in a song. They were meant for Kevin Luciano, CEO of the defunct Question Mark Records, Asa’s former record label. But how did it all begin?
In 2002, Asa entered the maiden edition of Star Quest but did not make it past the prelim round. She went on to develop a working relationship with Cobhams Asuquo who became Question Mark’s in-house music producer and together they made her first major single – Eye Adaba. This launched her career, and some will say the Question Mark label. The relationship did not last though. Alleging threat to her life by Kevin Luciano, and claiming the label was trying to sign her onto a foreign deal without her consent, Asa left them in 2006, without releasing an album. Question Mark retaliated by claiming she was bound to them by contract, and that they had rights over her materials. They claimed they had spent over N14million on her, bought her a car, and housed her, but were yet to get their money back. They released her songs in an album titled The Captivator but that did not stop Asa from moving to France, where she signed a multi-million-naira deal with Naïve, a French record label. In 2007, she released her official self-titled debut album, and it featured some of the songs in the previously released The Captivator.
The beef will go on for a while. In 2012, Asa called Question Mark criminals on Twitter, after an album titled “Down on Me” was released. She sought legal action and even though sales did not stop immediately, promotions for the album did not continue.
In the end, Asa is huge in Nigeria and Europe, while the label has shut down.
5. Soul E vs Colossal Entertainment
Remember “Soul E baba dey here …”? That song was a monster hit in 2006 /2007 – not only because it was a different kind of groovy sound, but because of the level of airplay it had on radio and TV. If you know how these things work, you’ll know that the record label must have spent a fortune on Soul E’s production and promotions. His public image was also well taken care of as he was seen as the fresh boy everybody loved.
Then all of a sudden, Soul E decided to get married to Queen Ure, and after the wedding, he issued a press statement saying he was quitting Colossal Entertainment. Apparently, his wife – a much older and richer woman – pushed him to drop the label, so she could become his sponsor. But Colossal rejected Soul E’s ‘resignation’. They issued a statement to radio and TV stations and banned them from playing Soul E’s songs. They took the crooner to court, claiming the contract he signed in 2005, stated that he will release 6 albums under Colossal Records, and so many other things which the singer agreed to. They also claimed they had picked him up from the streets, spent millions on branding him, making him a star, but had not gotten returns. They claimed that even the name Soul E was their trademark and he had no right to use it.
The record label eventually won the case, and a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the singer to pay Colossal the sum of N168million and five more albums to complete their agreement. And unless Soul E pays Colossal that money and gives them the 5 albums, he can never perform on stage again as Soul E.
Has he paid? We don’t know. What we know is that he has since parted ways with Queen Ure (a union he says he regrets), and has become a Prophet and Gospel artiste.