DJ Cuppy vs Zlatan: Why the Nigerian music industry needs restructuring

By Emma Tallest

The knowledge of the music business should be an integral part of your artistry. When you know this, you won’t do anything for free, even if you do, you know the domino effect on your career.

Zlatan Ibile and billionaire daughter DJ Cuppy’s rft have been on and off, the last was the recent exposure by feare Isreal AKA Isreal DMW, the personal logistic manager to pop star Davido.

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On January 8, 2021, DJ Cuppy tweeted about how Zlatan blocked her on WhatsApp and Instagram after the release of ‘Gelato’ in 2019.

While featuring as a guest on The Switch’s show on Soundcity a few days ago, he was asked about his relationship with DJ Cuppy. The ‘Lagos Anthem’ crooner shocked many after he said he didn’t know who Cuppy was.

When probed further by the presenter, he said “Is that an artist? I don’t know her.” His response drew a lot of condemnations on Twitter until Isreal came to his rescue.

Isreal who alleged that Cuppy didn’t pay Zlatan for the hit single “Gelato”, added that she failed to provide any logistic for him during the fundraising ceremony of Cuppy Foundation in 2019 at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

Writing on his Instagram handle, Isreal DMW said:

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“Kudos to someone like Zlatan, who took a bold step by flushing a full fake friend like Cuppy who was just using his head all in the name of my papa na Otedola. Zlatan did a hit collabo with her, ordinary one kobo, he no sees.

“She also took Zlatan to Abuja for her fundraising where she made billions of naira and didn’t even remember Zee for one kobo until tomorrow. No accommodation, no feeding.

“Zlatan had to even spend his money at Transcorp Hilton to carter for everyone including me. Dis na 2021 abeg.”

I hope the lesson of this saga doesn’t get lost on us. The current imbroglio was simply a situation of naive artiste versus a well-exposed rich kid.

A party felt he deserve more than what was given — since he gave a hit and didn’t receive the prize of a hitmaker — the other party felt the name association was enough — who wouldn’t want to be associated with Otedola with the money? Even Dice Ailes leverages on the name to score his groundbreaking record in 2017.

You can blame Cuppy for all you want but the questions remain, was there a definite agreement between both of them? Was there even anything about royalty, who own the song? What’s the sharing formula? The average Nigerian artiste doesn’t care about all these.

The hunger for stardom can be blinding and trust me, they don’t care. A lot of DJ Cuppy vs Zlatan stories abound in the industry.

While the dust raised by the allegation and counter allegation has not settled, DJ Cuppy dropped another bombshell about the fact that she had free features on her last album “Original Copy” a lot of people were taken aback by such a statement. The truth is that not every collaboration is paid for in the music industry, some are free.

You get free features if the artist likes you, likes the song or, you came through the right channel. For a DJ like Cuppy, she would get free features. DJ play songs, artists need the support of DJs to grow. Such collaborations are mutually beneficial.

However some payments and documents would be paid before such a song would be released — documents like royalty details, some record label executives would request some stipend to run the paperwork.

Even if you don’t pay for the collaboration, you would cater to the customs of the featured artist during the video shoot, not forgetting logistics.

Years ago, I remember reading about Timaya sending a private jet to bring Sean Paul down to a video shoot.

When next an artiste tells you he doesn’t pay for collaboration, believe him but remember there are other bills to pay too.

Emmanuel Daraloye is a Music Journalist and a Pop Culture Curator.

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