How Moneoa’s song became Amanda Black’s big hit

No regret: Moneoa Moshesh won’t take legal action.
No regret: Moneoa Moshesh won’t take legal action.

The music on Amanda Black’s breakout hit Amazulu was first released over a year earlier – in October 2014 – on Moneoa Moshesh’s second album, as the song Ziph’Inkomo, the singer claims.

Ahead of the release of her third album, Moneoa has released a remix of Ziph’Inkomo and fans can now decide whether or not it was plagiarised.

“A song of mine was taken and released as a different song. That put me in a very dark place. That’s when I had a rude awakening and started to think a lot about myself,” she told City Press this week.

“I had just landed from my first international gig in Cuba and was driving home from the airport. I put on Metro FM and heard this other song. I stopped on the side of the road and just cried for like an hour. I was weak and defeated.”

This is not the first case of alleged copyright infringement this week against Black’s record label Ambitiouz Records.

Producer Toto claims Ambitiouz’s DJ Citi Lyts released his track Malambane last month, and that it is almost identical to his uMalambane, released in April last year.

Ambitiouz declined to comment this week.

The return of Moneoa

Both Moneoa and Black’s tracks were produced by Mnqobi “Lunatik” Nxumalo.

When City Press asked him about the two songs’ similarities, he said Moneoa “took my beats and made the song”.

“I thought she was still going to pay me, so I didn’t even talk about that. A year passes, 2015. I hit her up and I invoice her for R4 000. I told her to pay. She doesn’t pay and starts giving me the run-around.

“But she should talk to me. It’s my beat, then it ended up being a beef. Then I was like ‘oh okay if you don’t want to pay then that means it’s still my beat’.

“Then I met Amanda, met Ambitiouz. Amanda managed to make Amazulu on the same beat and they paid me instantly.”

Lunatik said session musicians replayed all the instruments “so it’s nothing like Moneoa’s”.

“I feel like she’s really reaching,” he said.

Lunatik showed City Press an invoice he sent to Moneoa. She did not respond to questions about whether he was paid.

Moneoa, however, said Lunatik’s initial beats were “old” and she and another producer, pH Raw X, “added a few elements to the song and I started singing on top of it. We were all-inclusive and helped him compose it.”

Moneoa said she went to the SA Music Rights Organisation (Samro) and registered Lunatik as a co-producer of the song because she wanted him to receive royalties. Now she’s questioning why he is receiving royalties off two tracks – hers and Black’s.

Lunatik’s then manager, Jabu Nkabinde, also confirmed Moneoa’s account.

Said pH: “Lunatik brought the beat before I added anything on to it. Moneoa wrote the song and the hook, then we recorded it and I added more music into the complete song.

“When Amazulu came out, Jabu brought it to my attention that the song sounds familiar to what we did. When I heard it I wondered who is this and then I figured out it’s Lunatik, who had moved to Ambitiouz Records at the time.

“He took the same beat and gave it to Amanda Black.”

Although most of those involved agree that the songs are eerily similar, Lunatik is of a different opinion.

“The drums are the same, the beat is the same but the melodies aren’t the same,” he said.

“The whole thing is because she never paid.”

Lunatik said he received no royalties from Moneoa’s song.

“I haven’t notified Samro of that being my song because I never got paid. I don’t want anything to do with it,” he said.

In the Malambane case, producer Toto showed City Press documents that prove he released and copyrighted his uMalambane last year.

Toto alleged DJ Citi Lyts heard the track and asked Toto’s collaborators to send it to him on WhatsApp.

Asked for comment, DJ Citi Lyts said his management advised him not to speak to the media.

Meanwhile, Moneoa said she would not pursue the matter legally.

“A lot of people were very disappointed, the fact that I kept it to myself. But it’s a decision I don’t regret. I still wouldn’t want to pursue that case.

“I can’t bring myself to hate anyone, be bitter or upset. Was I upset at the time? Yes. Was I hurt? Yes. Did it have a horrible effect on me? Absolutely. It added to the depression I already felt.”

Moneoa has shot her first film, Back of the Moon, in which she plays the lead role.

“I did a couple of features on other artists’ tracks, left my label Gallo. I did a Lux deal, I did a campaign with Unicef. I don’t want to say I’ve been finding myself, but I can’t find a better way to describe it,” she said.

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