emPawa Africa founder Mr Eazi has accused Puerto Rican singer and rapper Bad Bunny of copyright infringement, claiming that his GRAMMY award-winning track ‘Enséñame a Bailar’ was lifted from emPawa Africa signee Joeboy’s ‘Empty My Pocket’.
Mr Eazi, AKA Oluwatosin Ajibade, is now demanding that both Bad Bunny and his recording company, Rimas Music, appropriately credit Joeboy’s track and emPawa Africa.
According to a press release, emPawa has attempted to close the dispute privately, but to no avail. “The team at emPawa Africa have attempted to sort this issue amicably since May of last year with our mutual legal teams,” Mr Eazi said.
“But the intent of Rimas Music is clearly to blatantly appropriate young African creators' work for their gain without attribution,” he added. The dispute claims that many elements of Bad Bunny’s track take from ‘Empty My Pocket’, which was originally produced by Dëra in 2021.
emPawa are now asking for publishing, songwriting and feature credits for both Joeboy and Dëra, while Mr Eazi has also asked the rapper to “apologise to Afrobeats artists.”
“Unfortunately this is part of a broader pattern we see in how the wider music industry approaches the IP [intellectual property] of African artists,” he said. “Afrobeats has become a global phenomenon, and everybody wants to sample a piece of it. Unfortunately, afrobeats artists, their producers and labels often have to pursue legal means to secure publishing and royalties after songs they originally created are co-opted without credit by other artists.”
Both Bad Bunny and Mr Eazi have collaborated previously on the Puerto Rican singer’s joint record with J Balvin, ‘Oasis’, in 2019. The track made waves for Afrobeats in the Latin and reggaeton scenes, and helped the genre reach new audiences around the world.
“I founded emPawa Africa to protect and support African creative entrepreneurs and artists with a virtuous ecosystem, believing that afrobeats and afropop would be today what we wished then it would become,” says Mr Eazi.
“We will not accept Bad Bunny and Rimas denying Joeboy and Dëra credits and a share in the ownership of a song they wrote, composed and, in Joeboy’s case, even performed on.”
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter