Nasty war rages over Nomvula

2016-10-16 06:00


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Johannesburg - Lawyers for Afro-pop duo Jaziel Brothers will use transcriptions and video recordings produced during the making of Nathi Mankayi’s hit album Buyelekhaya to prove they produced it.

In May, City Press reported that Jaziel Brothers were hauling Mankayi, his record label Ghetto Ruff Records/Muthaland Entertainment, which is owned by Lance Stehr, and the Elundini Local Municipality to the Johannesburg High Court for allegedly stealing their music for his first album – including the hit song Nomvula.

In 2012, the Elundini municipality in the Eastern Cape contracted Jaziel Music Productions to record Mankayi, who won a talent contest it sponsored, called Dare to Dream.

But Jaziel Brothers – Luthando and Ntobeko Ngcizela – allege the municipality paid them only half of what they should have received, and they are therefore entitled to royalties from the album, which won the record of the year gong at the SA Music Awards this year.

This week, City Press saw an almost four-minute video of an interview with Mankayi, who was asked who he worked with on his album.

On the recording, Mankayi responded that he worked with Jaziel Brothers and Gavin Eckhart.

In an email, a copy of which City Press obtained and which is also expected to be included in evidence, Eckhart, a sound engineer and mixer, confirms that Jaziel Brothers commissioned him in February 2013 to record the live band and vocals for Mankayi’s album at his Soul Fire Studio in Norwood, Joburg.

The Jaziel Brothers Picture: Lucky Nxumalo

“As they commissioned the work, paid for the work, and performed all the other roles that a producer typically performed during the recording and minimising process, I would consider them to be the producers of Mankayi’s album,” he wrote.

He continued: “I was the recording and mixing engineer for both the live and the programmed versions of the project.”

The final master, he said, was not completed because Jaziel Brothers did not sign off the mixes or provide “International Standard Recording codes as is the usual practice when completing an album”.

“And, despite this, my rough mixes were used – as is – on the finalised album,” he claimed.

“It is unfortunate that neither them nor I have received acknowledgment for our roles in the CD’s liner notes on the physical release or any other format. This has caused loss of potential earnings and recognition for my studio and its brand.”

Another video expected to be included in evidence shows Luthando Ngcizela sitting next to Eckhart at Soul Fire Studio while Mankayi recorded one of the album’s tracks – which was then called Zitshele and is now called Intliziyo. Luthando can be heard providing vocal advice to Mankayi when his voice cracked.

But Mankayi and his fellow defendants claim that Jaziel Brothers had nothing to do with the composition of the songs and had little involvement in the album’s production.

In her affidavit deposed on behalf of Elundini Local Municipality, operations manager Nonkuselo Sokutu said: “[Mankayi] recorded his songs on his cellphone while in the Eastern Cape.

He had been working on these songs for a number of years, with assistance from his sister.

“Having recorded his compositions, Mankayi then used WhatsApp ... to send these compositions to Jaziel. Jaziel then used WhatsApp to forward these compositions to Bongani Mahlaole.”

Mahlaole is a record producer contracted by Ghetto Ruff/Muthaland, the record label that Mankayi is now contracted to.

“Jaziel Brothers made no changes to Mr Mankayi’s recordings,” Sokutu said.

Sokutu said the municipality didn’t pay Jaziel Brothers the outstanding R107 280 bill because they breached the contract. When they finally handed the municipality 1 000 copies of the album, “I realised the quality of the recordings was terrible”, she said.

In his affidavit, Mankayi admits he and Jaziel Brothers spent time at Soul Fire Studio – where he claims they recorded the entire album in a “single day” – but he says they had “no input” on the composition of the music and were absent for some of the time.

“From late 2012 until early 2013, I recorded my songs on my cellphone. On some tracks, I just sang the vocals. On others, I also played the guitar. I then sent these recordings to Jaziel Music Productions using WhatsApp,” he says.

“I no longer have copies of these WhatsApp messages, but, to the best of my recollection, I sent a total of 11 songs. Nine of these songs would later appear on my album, released in 2015.”

Mankayi says in his affidavit that the “demo recordings that Jaziel handed to me and the municipality in March 2013 were the recordings that we made in February 2013”.

“To the best of my knowledge, these recordings had not yet been mastered, but I liked the sound,” he said.

In court papers, Mankayi also says the brothers never believed in him.

“I was deeply disappointed when Jaziel told me they would not sign me as an artist and would [not] be involved in the commercial release of my album. Jaziel had previously told me they did not like my singing voice and would only consider me as a songwriter,” he said.

Mankayi’s album was released in 2015 and this year he scooped five South African Music Awards: best male artist, best R&B/Soul/Reggae album, best newcomer, best-selling full-track download and record of the year.

In his affidavit, Mankayi also revealed how he used music as a way to cope with the hardships of prison life after he was convicted of armed robbery as a 20-year-old in Maclear.

“After my release from jail, I struggled to find opportunities. I continued to work on composing songs and refining my existing songs, with help from my younger sister, Amanda,” he said.


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