The biggest case in the fashion industry right now is the ruling handed down by the court on the Christian Louboutin vs. YSL case. Stand by as fashion law grenades explode in this earthquake causing ruling, once I complete reading the 33 page opinion by the court. For right now, let’s get into a quick case on the Africa Legal Drama end. Well it is not exactly a case that has been filed in court or legal drama per se, but in some sense the reporting has such undertones.
City People, one of the prominent soft sell magazines in Nigeria, reports in relevant part the following about popular British-Nigerian music artist JJC’s alleged statements, about his relationship with recording artists Don Jazzy and D’Banj. The latter two are now signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label:
“It’s just life. Some people forget how everything started and some people remember, I would say that I was really the person that built the foundation for everybody to become what they are today and I would expect that they would remember and pay me that regard but they don’t.
The experience with Don Jazzy, D’Banj and other ex 419 Squad members was heartbreaking, because it was personal and it became something that affected me emotionally, hence the reason I left music for four years and nobody saw or heard from me. I didn’t record or do anything musically. I slowed myself down.
Don Jazzy was a keyboard player and Mr. Solek and Kas brought him to me and said that he really liked my music. At that time I was already JJC and I had songs like kilonsele on air play already and had won a couple of awards, I was strong in the game. I trained Don Jazzy on how to become a producer and he lived in my house for about a year and I showed him how to produce, trained him on how to perform and put things together.
And D’Banj , from the branding to how to act like Fela, I did it for him. His song, mobolowon won, was written by me, Raggaremi and MP. Even All The Way was written in Lagos here. I was very instrumental in packaging Don Jazzy and D’banj.
I was supposed to release D’Banj’s first album on my label, Backbone Music, but by the time we all came back to Nigeria in 2004, everyone started going their own ways when it was time to sign the 50/50 contract. They all decided not to sign. If I give you a contract and you refuse to sign, there is little or nothing I can do about it.
Do I feel betrayed by them? I don’t believe in regrets, because I believe every single thing in life make you who you are. The experience has made me a better business man. Now before I start anything with any artiste, they sign a contract or an agreement, so that we don’t have any issues in future.-City People via Naijapals.com
The alleged story above has now been interpreted by many blogs to mean that JJC claims the duo betrayed him. I have read the story a couple of times and fail to see where JJC claims the duo betrayed him. I won’t even go as far as to draw such inference or make such conclusion. What he discusses and should serve as Exhibit A is the need to have contracts in place to outline relationships before, rather than after the fact.
JJC chronicled alleged facts (there is two sides to every story, not so) that he made significant contributions to the success of Don Jazzy and D’Banj. He chronicled the fact that when the time came to sign an agreement of some sorts, the duo along with other artists were unhappy with the terms and they refused. There is no statement in the reported news that JJC says the duo ever promised to sign an agreement with him.
Key legal points to highlight that almost all emerging artists and music entrepreneurs fail to realize as underscored by JJC’s alleged statements:
- Friendship should not mix with business. If you love your friends and will do business with them, get things in writing i.e. legal agreement in place, first.
- If you invest time in artist development etc. again get a legal agreement in place. I have covered Music Producer Agreements in the past. If you are an independent label, get things in writing. No one is going to hand you your accolades, even if you earn it. Where it makes sense to do so, demand they do in a legal agreement i.e. accord credit, among other things, in exchange for your services.
- No one is your mouthpiece to sing your praises for you. We would love for people to remember us when we do wonderful things for them. The fact is many do not. If you want publicity and name dropping of how you helped people, do it yourself. Put out your pr and marketing materials through your in house or outside PR firm and let it be known you are that guy that got Jay-z and what have you to where he is. If you expect others to do it, put it in a legal agreement.
- When you realize that you screwed yourself over, as is alleged in the above report, then admit it as JJC has done, become business savvy and learn to understand, negotiate and go for what you want.
- What’s friendship got to do with it? It might seem very harsh to say this but we lawyers see this problem all the time in the many clients we have been privileged to counsel/represent. It is always funny how people claim to be “friends” when they want something from you. But, the moment they get what they want and money begins trickling in, they have the worse case of amnesia and have never heard of you. Money will and has always divided so called friends. Unfortunately, creative professionals get caught up in this whole friend business thing and fail to see that just because you are friends, family or even lovers does not mean you cannot and should not separate business from personal. Your legal agreements clearly stating your intentions helps preserve the very friendship/relationship you are trying to protect. The “no big deal we are friends” is one of the biggest reasons why many disputes arise among artists. Get a legal agreement in place.
When I read JJC’s alleged statements, I do not see someone saying, “Don Jazzy and D’Banj betrayed me.” as is alleged.
I see someone saying, I had no idea how to run a business and have the right legal protections in place. It cost me dearly, emotionally and financially. I learned from the past, corrected my mistakes and hey, we are Africans, a whoo! Sort of like Kid’s “Peace to the Po-po” article we saw earlier this week.
Enjoy JJC’s work below. I happen to think he is very talented and has a knack for spotting very talented new artists.
FASHIONENTLAW blog, authored by Ms. Uduak, was first established in 2010. It is now incorporated, in 2021, as part of the FASHIONENTLAW LAW FIRM blog. The blog is for informational purposes only and provides legal commentary and analysis on the intersection of mainstream America pop culture and the law. It also provides updates on Ms. Uduak’s speaking engagements and press activities. For inquiries on topics covered please email (firstname.lastname@example.org).