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Jah Prayzah 'stole' award winning song

Borrowed without permission Tsviriyo arrangement and harmonies? ... Jah Prayzah

08/12/2014 00:00:00
by Robert Mukondiwa & Emmanuel Kwame Amoh (in Ghana)
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IN another embarrassing low point for Zimbabwean music and creativity, NewZimbabwe.com can exclusively reveal that Jah Prayzah 'stole' a song off his Tsviriyo album passing it off as his own and grabbing several accolades from its appeal.

The song Sisi Makachena released in 2013 is, in fact, originally a composition by Ghanaian musician Emmanuel Samini, who released his hit song in 2007.

A Ghanaian Favourite

Entitled Samini, the original track is meant to announce a change of name in the artiste's stage name – from Batman to Samini – and declares that he is here in his new identity to entertain his fans.

It was a Ghanaian favourite when it was released back in the middle of the last decade and receiving national airplay and appeal.

Jah Prayzah's stolen version celebrates a woman who is dressed smartly and entices him; a woman even admired by his relatives as a potential daughter-in-law.

While the meaning of the songs is different, Jah Prayzah pilfered the arrangement of the song and the harmonies, complete with background chants and passed them off as his own.

Although, it is permissible to do so provided one clearly states that their song at least contains an interpolation of a previous work of art that does not belong to them, Jah Prayzah did not do so on his album sleeve, choosing to conveniently 'forget' to credit the original artiste.

Meticulous work in both Ghana and Zimbabwe and the use of multiple plagiarism busting devices and applications including Shazam, by NewZimbabwe.com proved to be the standard that caught Jah Prayzah out.



No contest

However, when reached for comment, the otherwise trailblazing star decided to cede his right to defend himself or comment on the allegations.

His no contest plea will do nothing to douse the flames of art theft that threaten to immolate him and his previously celebrated reputation as an intensely creative artiste.


"I'm not going to comment on the issue and advise you to just run the story. I don’t want to cause problems with further comment on the issue," said Jah Prayzah whose real name is Mukudzeyi Mukombe.

However, when reached for comment, Ghanaian music star Samini said he would respond appropriately as he is preoccupied with events to mark 10 years of his professional career.

But he hinted that the song may have leaked in South Africa, where the video was shot.

A tradition of theft

But Jah Prayzah is not a trailblazer in the art of 'stealing' other people's creative ideas and developing amnesia when it comes to crediting the original composers.

He joins a hall of infamy that, sadly, has created a tradition of theft in the music industry.

His close friend and confidante Suluman Chimbetu also brewed a storm for 'unauthorised borrowing' when he penned the song Kwedu which he performed with veteran artiste Oliver Mtukudzi.

The song was originally done by the group es Wanyika from Kenya, then entitled Kajituliza Kasuku.

Much like Jah Prayzah, the theft was lock, stock and complete with smoking barrel as it was pilfered right down to musical arrangement and lyrical rhyme with not a trace of acknowledgement on the album cover.

But it is not just the emerging music pickaninnies that are stealing ideas and passing them off as their own.

Sungura ace Alick Macheso courted controversy when he stole the song Mundikumbuke, but this time also complete with meaning from Malawi ace and singer of the hit Ceasefire album and erstwhile legislator Lucias Banda.

Somandla Ndebele also had his hand in the cookie jar of artistic ownership and creativity and his hand was caught in the act. He had nicked old music and arrangement from a series of Kandindo classics which also got him some flak.

The sad thing is that, with a simple acknowledgement, one can comfortably use someone else’s musical arrangement and it is permissible under law internationally.

Unfortunately, local artistes prefer to try and steal the products and take all the credit for the music.

But in a world which has become a global village with information being shared easily across nations and cultures, the end is nigh for the Zimbabwean artistic thief.

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