When singer, Cynthia Morgan, recently railed against her former record label, Northside Entertainment, headed by Jude Okoye, not many were taken by surprise. Sadly, disputes between artistes and their record labels have become all too common in the Nigerian music industry. TOFARATI IGE takes a look at music artistes who have fallen out with their record labels
It has often been stated that there is nothing like ‘overnight success’. But if there were, Kizz Daniel would certainly be in that category. The music business is generally regarded as expensive because record labels have to fork out a lot of money to pay for studio sessions, music videos, promotion, public relations and other things.
However, G-Worldwide Entertainment ‘struck gold’ with Kizz Daniel (formerly, Kiss Daniel) as they didn’t have to spend so much to publicise his works. As it is believed that a good product sells itself, Daniel’s debut single, ‘Woju’ caught on like wildfire among fans.
The relationship between both artiste and record label seemed to go on smoothly for a while until Daniel probably felt the company was taking the lion’s share off the fruits of his labour. In November 2017, the ‘Laye’ singer announced that he was quitting his contract with G-Worldwide and starting his own record label, Flyboy Inc. Considering that his contract hadn’t elapsed, G-Worldwide took the singer to court and the legal battle is still ongoing. The graduate of Water Resources Management and Agrometereology later changed his stage name to Kizz Daniel, ostensibly because G-Worldwide had legal ownership of Kiss Daniels.
Both parties don’t seem to be ready to back down anytime soon.
Record labels and artistes’ fallouts have been likened by some to romantic break-ups and singer, Douglas Agu, aka Runtown’s separation from his erstwhile record label, Eric Manny, was as messy as it gets.
Runtown inked a two year deal with the company in May 2014. But, after releasing his debut album, ‘Ghetto University’, Runtown was allegedly asked to extend his contract by another two years.
At the height of their squabble, Runtown alleged that Eric Manny boss, Okwudili Umenyiora, pulled a gun on him, threatened to shoot him, ‘destroy his career’ and blackmail him with a sex tape. Eric Manny has since denied the allegations but it is obvious that there is no love lost between both parties.
When rapper, Olanrewaju Ogunmefun, aka Vector, got a record deal with YSG Entertainment, he must have felt a huge sense of relief and fulfillment that he had found a ‘backbone’ in the gruelling music industry. However, the honeymoon between him and YSG didn’t last for long before it started unravelling at the seams like a badly sewn dress.
Vector bitterly complained that the label was not devoting enough resources to promote his career and that he had to do many things himself. The label later accused Vector of ‘breach of contract’ and he was arrested by the police.
After some back and forth, Vector eventually apologised to the company and both parties went their separate ways.
Ayodeji Balogun, aka Wizkid, came into the industry with a bang. Backed by the Banky W and Tunde Demuren-led Empire Mates Entertainment, the young singer was evidently destined for the big leagues. The relationship between artiste and record label was so cordial and non-toxic that people began to tag it as a perfect example of how such partnerships should be.
However, like the late American rapper, Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious BIG, once sang, ‘More Money, More Problems’ and as the fortune grew, division reared its ugly head.
When Wizzy signed the contract back in 2009, he was allegedly offered 25 per cent of his earnings, while the rest was shared between the owners of EME and his manager. But in 2013, as the singer began to make more money, he demanded for an upward review of the contract in his favour. The label was initially adamant but Wizkid was a cash cow they weren’t ready to let go of. They eventually reviewed the contract upward but not the exact percentage that the artiste wanted.
Both continued their warm relationship and Wizkid went on to found his own record label, Star Boy Entertainment.
Cynthia Morgan can be said to have the total package when it comes to being the ideal female singer. Talented and beautiful with a ‘hot’ body, the world was hers for the taking.
And she indeed took it initially. But some singles down the line, her relationship with her record label, Northside Entertainment’s boss, Jude Okoye, sputtered and shut down.
The singer came back to public consciousness last week when she alleged that Northside didn’t allow her access to her YouTube account and stage name. She claimed that the ‘problem’ between the Okoye brothers had affected her career. Jude denied the allegations and just like a poorly scripted Nollywood movie, Morgan added a twist when she apologised to the label.
She wrote on Instagram, “A lot has happened in the past. I erred, other parties involved had their fair share of blame, but we all make mistakes. I was younger and new in the industry and in retrospect, some things could have been done differently instead of left unresolved. However, in telling my story, I have not lied but only shared my story as it happened from my point of view. Also, I allowed the hurt and pain from past dealings take over my emotions but moving on, I won’t take this new opportunity for granted.”
After Empire Mates Entertainment refused to renew his contract, Skales found a new home in Baseline Entertainment. He signed a well-publicised deal with the record company in 2014 but about two years later, the relationship turned awry.
The singer and his manager, Osagie Osarenkhoe, were locked up in 2016, after the company wrote a petition against them to the police alleging fraud. A deal was later reached and Skales continued with the label but with a different manager.
Brymo’s voice on Ice Prince’s hit song, ‘Oleku’, can be likened to icing on a cake— it put a perfect finishing to the melodious tune. Brymo went on to release singles and an album with Chocolate City Entertainment and everyone seemed to be happy.
However, a spanner was thrown into the works when Brymo went on Twitter to state that he had left the company. Choc City responded by maintaining that Brymo still had an existing contract. The label tried to do some damage control but the relationship had sunk too low to be rescued. Brymo left the label in 2013.
Singer, Harrysong, was the perfect companion for his record label boss, Kcee. A talented composer, Kcee quickly put him to good use and the former allegedly wrote some hit songs for the latter.
However, their relationship soon went on a downward spiral and it ended with Harrysong being picked up by the police for a breach of contract. Some concerned parties intervened and flared tempers seemed to cool for some time but for Harrysong, it was the end of that particular road. He didn’t return to Five Star Music.
Iyanya and his friend and co-owner of Made Men Music Group, Ubi Franklin, seemed to have the sort of friendship that many wish for. Iyanya made a number of hits and Ubi marketed him to the world.
However, Iyanya later came out to tell the world that Franklin had extensively defrauded him over the years. Ubi denied and the back and forth continued for a while until people stopped paying attention.
The singer said he had learnt his lesson and would be more painstaking when next he signed a contract.
It doesn’t take long for anyone to notice that rapper, Ycee, is very bitter at his former record label, Tinny Entertainment.
When the going was good, the ‘Jagaban’ rapper gleefully called the name of the label in his songs. But their union soured considerably along the line and Ycee has been telling anyone who cares to listen that the record label cheated him.