Tanzania: How Cheche Exposed Bongo Flava's Copy and Paste Bug

WCB signee Zuchu and her Boss Diamond Platnumz were dealt a major blow after their brand new video to the song #Cheche got pulled down from YouTube over copyright claims last week.

A search done by The Beat indicates that #Cheche was pulled down from the streaming platform after a copyright strike was filed by a guy called Tony Anthony.

"Video unavailable: This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Tony Antony," read the message from YouTube. According to the Head of Digital Department at WCB Wasafi, Kim Kayndo, the music label quickly got in touch with the YouTube management to ensure the #Cheche video is reinstated back on YouTube, adding that the copyright strike issued against the Cheche video was fake, and therefore it was easy for them to get the video back on YouTube.

The song in question was trending at No. 1 both in Kenya and Tanzania, and had garnered over 2.5 million views within 5 days of being released.

Away from the copyright strike, the 'Cheche' video has been rocked with lots of controversies; from allegations of stealing Tanasha Donna's lyrics and style to copy-pasting the video concept from Beyoncé's 'Naughty Girl'. This raises a wider question of creativity (or the lack thereof) in Bongo Flava. Over the years we've witnessed what artistes have been quick to defend as 'inspiration', where music videos have mirrored what we've already seen from western artistes.

The regurgitation of works of art is not a new concept, however, when done repeatedly it becomes a bit monotonous and an eyesore. Diamond is not alone in this bracket of local artistes copying other singers in either melody or music video. Singer Harmonize was under fire recently following the release of his tribute to the late president Benjamin Mkapa.

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Harmonize's song 'Amen' was pulled down from YouTube after claims were made that it sampled a song by the Hip hop artiste Rosa Ree. Claims first started circulating online before firm action was taken by the digital content uploader.

"Good music sells itself, never forced. Enyewe demand on this video imekuwa high... Sijui after #nawewe ni release hii?" This is a cryptic message Kenyan musician Tanasha Donna posted on her Instagram page barely hours after the release of Zuchu's and Diamond's 'Cheche' song.

Tanasha and her manager called out Diamond and Zuchu for allegedly stealing lyrics and melody from one of her songs titled 'Ride' off of her EP album Donnattela. The cryptic message on the singer's social media was a video of her singing along to the 'Ride' song which features Kenyan rapper Khaligraph Jones.

Tanasha's lines in question are a mix of Spanish, English and Kiswahili. They sound similar to the ones Zuchu used in Cheche's intro and this did not sit well with the Kenyan singer and her manager.

Interestingly, while the two are calling each other out for copy-pasting, they have been called out severally for lifting ideas from other artistes too.

Diamond has been called out for copying other artistes for the better part of his career while Tanasha, who has only a handful of songs, was exposed for copying pasting her favorite artistes. Outside music the two singers share a son called Naseen Junior.

The big questions remain; are these repeated cases of artistes sampling other singers' ideas an indication of a lack of creativity, is it a coincidence, or the artistes merely inspired by works that have already been released that they decide to do a version of their own?

In more advanced music industries copyright infringement is a very serious case which can cost an artiste billions of shillings if found culpable of the crime.

Take the song Blurred Lines by American singers Robin Thicke featuring T.I and Pharrell Williams. The song became the subject of a bitter legal dispute with the family of the late Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music, who argued the song infringed on copyrights to the song that inspired it.

Williams and Thicke were found liable for copyright infringement by a federal jury in March 2015, and Gaye was awarded posthumous songwriting credit (based on the royalties pledged to his estate).

This is just one of many cases where more established artistes are accused of stealing songs of lesser-known acts, or those who've already died. Though some of the claims never see the light of day due to being unfounded and frivolous, others lead to hefty compensations and recognition once the singer on the other end of the claim is found to be guilty.

When it comes to our local music industry, such cases seldom make it to authorities. Most of the complaints end on social media and other media channels or the artistes meet and decide to settle them in a privy affair. And it's not just singers who've been on the receiving end of copyright infringement claims. Music producers have also had it worse.

The claim of sampling a beat is a common term in the music industry. producers such as Mr T touch and Marco Chali have on different occasions been accused of copying beats previously done by other artistes. The owner of the beat is the producer and not the artiste, so often times singers might be mistakenly accused of stealing a beat while forgetting that it's the producer who's behind the intricacies of preparing a song's beat.

While we keep on seeing these cases rise up time and again, they paint a poor picture of Bongo Flava. One which shows a lack of originality.

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