(Note: this is actually a *really* interesting case study for transformative work and legality, or at least it was to me as a fan!)
Before the era of social media, disputes between producers and artists in the entertainment industry might have happened behind closed doors in a studio or a law firm.
These days, they happen on Twitter.
Fans of Harlem rapper/songwriter Azealia Banks didn’t get an anticipated single this week, but they did get a spectacle, when they watched her duke it out with producer Munchi, a noted DJ and mix artist credited as a creator of Moombahcore, a brand of Caribbean-tinged Dutch electronica.
The issue at the heart of their public debate is a matter of ownership of a track off Banks’ recent summer mix, Fantasea. Live for Live Music has a succinct breakdown of the backstory.
Munchi created the beat for the song in 2010, when he released it under the title “Esta Noche,” sampling a track by Montell Jordan and Claudja Barry.
Banks’ “Esta Noche” consists of her rapping and singing over the backdrop of Munchi’s song, without any noticeable changes to the music itself.
Banks released her track with permission from Jordan and Barry, creators of the song that Munchi sampled to produce his own work. But she failed to secure permission from Munchi.
The literary equivalent of this would be someone intending to publish Fifty Shades of Grey fanfiction but choosing to get permission from Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight, while sidestepping E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades, altogether.
Munchi alleged that Banks’ production company contacted him for permission only after they had announced the single’s release. But Banks countered that Munchi has “no right to be beefing right now when all u did was a remix.”