By Emmanuel Daraloye (Emma Tallest)
Recently, the social media was agog with the news of a court case instituted against ‘Limpopo’ crooner and Five Stars records artiste, Kingsley Chinweike Okonkwo better known as Kcee, over alleged copyright infringement of ‘Som Too Chukwu’, a 2001 track by Jude Nnam, Nigerian music composer and performer.
It would be recalled that Kcee released an Okwesili Eze Group-assisted single titled ‘Cultural Praise Vol 1’ in December 2020 while a sequel was put out in January 2021. Jude Nnam had, however, in the suit alleged that Kcee copied his lyrics for the song.
For the purpose of context, ‘Cultural Praise’ by Kcee and Okwesili Eze Group had 1.2 million views on Youtube, 3.68 million streams on Audiomack, 13,000 streams on Boomplay, and 241,425 streams on Spotify as of the time of filing this report. On the other hand, Nnam’s ‘Som Too Chukwu’ had 29,0000 stream views on Youtube, 12,000 streams on Audiomack while the musician’s monthly listeners on Spotify were less than 500.
A check on Kcee’s previous singles revealed ‘Som Too Chukwu’ was a quantum leap in his streaming figures.
No doubt, Kcee has benefited immensely from this song more than Nnam and this makes you wonder why he has failed to do the needful. For a song that brought you back to the consciousness of the fans, the original composer should be compensated.
There are insinuations that Kcee was approached by Nnam in January before the release of the song’s sequel.
Intellectual property has been treated with kid gloves in Nigeria and both Kcee and his fans appeared to be unaware of its implication. When this writer checked opinions of some fans in the comment section, quite a handful of them berated Nnam for the court case. There were lame comments like Kcee made the song more popular. No doubt, he made it more popular but does that absolve Kcee of copyright infringement?
This is not the first time such would be happening, Nigerian artistes are perpetually known for infringing on intellectual property. Even before the blossoming of the Afrobeats movement, the likes of Olu Maintain and P-Square were known for tweaking foreign songs for the local audience.
Almost all the top Nigerian acts have been accused of copying people’s songs without adequate reference. Artistes like Olamide, Davido, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Tekno, Simi have been accused of such in the past.
Nigerian artistes can do better, nothing stops them from obtaining clearance from the artiste or record label before they rework their songs. We are in a country where everyone wants to cut corner for reason best known to them.
Kcee and Nnam might later settle out of court but I doubt this would be the last case of copyright infringement in Nigeria’s music landscape.
Emmanuel Daraloye is a music journalist and a pop culture curator.