As musicians Ril B and Blaze continue fighting over ownership of their hit song Mwini Zinthu, Blaze’s manager Bensam has blasted Ril B for lying that he financed the production of the song.
The feud surrounding the hit song has been the centre stage of confusion to people that love Malawi music in the country and in neighbouring countries. But what really happened? And what will be the way forward to these fights as this also comes at a time when the song is the potential song of the year if we go by any pending awards.
Blaze told Malawi24 in a recent interview that it depends on how people choose to define ownership.
“If it is defined by who paid for the studio session then it is Ril B’s song but if it is defined by who wrote the song then it is my song,” Blaze said.
After the remarks from Blaze, Ril B has also been claiming ownership of the song and he recently posted on his Facebook page saying he paid for everything during production, including Blaze’s services.
“A very simple case study would be Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin all we hear is a girls voice but we barely get to know who she is, well as of dominance she dominated the song but as to who owns it, it remains Kirk Franklin’s song. My point being every expense that was to do with the song, I catered for it, from buying the beat and as of Blaze’s services I paid and met every need and request he made.
“His Manager called me to cater for some expenses during the video shoot including paying dancers and some logistical issues, he did this knowing it was my song, if it was Blaze’s song wasn’t Bensam as the managing team supposed to take care of all expenses? Or should we say they failed as management? I respect Blaze and Bensam both, but we should all agree my beat made Blaze, as much as it made me, that explains the drama, but point remains I own Mwini Zinthu,” posted Ril B Mw
But in a telephone interview, Blaze’s manager Bensam revealed that at first the song had no owner but Ril B began claiming ownership after it started to enjoy massive airplay on major radios.
“Ril B and Blaze are friends from way back and my artist [Blaze] told me it was an agreement to put Ril B on the map since 100 percent of the song was written by Blaze and Ril B paid for the beat and studio session,” said Bensam.
“On the claims that the artist is making to have paid us and even for the video are wrong, Ril B came to my house and stayed during the days we were shooting the video I catered for over K100,000 to get the video set while he only gave out 40,000 kwacha for the video budget,” he added.
Several local artists have since weighed in on the feud between Ril B and Blaze.
Commenting on the saga, poet and former rapper Q-Malewezi said the story is complicated.
“There are some things that need clarification. What does buying a beat and covering expenses entail? Does these actions have a legal basis for someone to claim ownership? How many writers does the song have? I feel the issue of copyright ownership has nothing to do with paying for beats, studio, or video. If both of them wrote their parts for the song then they both own the copyright. But I guess that might not be the issue. The issue is who gets to use the song on their album?” queried.
On his part, minister of ghetto affairs Fredokiss said artists should make their agreements formal to avoid similar scenarios.
“These are things that need to be addressed at the onset we need to start utilising contracts to formalise agreements because COSOMA does not make decisions or judgements pertaining to ownership of unregistered,” he said.
But legendary female rapper Rina claimed that the artists would still be fighting even if they had signed contracts.
“This argument would still be there even if they signed paperwork. The public would still see the song being Blaze’s song. And that is the part Ril b disagrees with. People have accepted it that the song is owned by two. But one person is making money out of the two.
“The only thing he [Ril B] would’ve gotten out of signing a contract with Blaze and his management is that if they had a clause that gave Ril B part of the performance fee for Blaze performing a co-owned song. Which will then transfer into the producer wanting his rights on production and payment per performance etc. Pointing fingers won’t change anything,” explained Rina.
*Additional reporting by Thomas Siveliwa Jnr