It was one of the biggest songs in South Africa and internationally during lockdown. It was a vibe like no other as thousands of fans around the globe took to the dance floor to do the Jerusalema challenge.
But as it got bigger, so did the drama and controversies around it.
Just weeks after Kgaogelo “Master KG” Moagi announced that his single, Jerusalema with Nomcebo Zikode had hit a record-breaking 500 million mark views on YouTube, making it one of the most-watched music videos to be released in South Africa, he receives a legal document from producers Charmza DJ and Biblos claiming to have been the producers behind the song. They say they did not receive any acknowledgment for their creativity.
Last year, the leading vocalist on the song, Nomcebo also took Master KG’s record label Open Mic Productions to the lawyers and released a statement saying she is in a legal battle with her record label, Open Mic Productions over money allegedly due to her for her contribution in the hit song Jerusalema. She said she had not been paid what was due to her despite the song's international success.
“I have not been paid a cent by the record label for #Jerusalema despite the song’s global success. I have been ridiculed, with efforts to marginalise my contribution. I, as a female artist, can't stay silent anymore, the matter is now with my lawyers.”
Master KG denied the claims made by Nomcebo. He claims she wants more than what they had agreed on.
“Agreement of Jerusalema is 50/50 between me and Nomcebo but she wants 70% and I must get 30%,” he said in a tweet.
Now, Master KG, Open Mic Production, and Africori music have been served with a lawsuit for the copyright infringement of the global hit Jerusalema from Charmza the DJ and Biblos. The legal document states that Charmza the DJ and Biblos have instituted legal proceedings for alleged copyright infringement.
The two also shared a press statement stating that the Limpopo producer is not backing down and wants what rightfully belongs to him.
“Court papers filed at the High Court in Pretoria on 08 June 2022 show that the claims are based on allegations that neither Master KG nor his record label at the time, Open Mic, controlled the rights in the Jerusalema song or the master recording when they commercially released it. The song was the result of a collaboration between music producer, Charmza The DJ, who composed the music for the song, and Nomcebo Zikode, who wrote the lyrics for the song and performed it for the master recording, also produced in the studio by Charmza The DJ,” the statement reads.
According to Charmza The DJ, Master KG invited him and Nomcebo to his recording studio to work on a new song and states that he was not in the room when the Jerusalema song was conceptualized, created, and the master recording of it was produced.
“No contracts were entered into, and no rights clearances were secured from the copyright owners for Master KG or his record label to release the song and commercialize it under their name only, and for their profit only. It is alleged that neither Charmza The DJ, nor Nomcebo, was paid a cent by Master KG or Open Mic for the work they did when they collaborated to originate and record the Jerusalema song, and since no contracts were entered into, they are still vested with the full rights of copyright in their original creations to this day.”
The statement goes to say that Master KG and Open Mic released Jerusalema without obtaining any rights clearances from the artists who originated the song and produced the recording. “They also did not secure a license or clearance from Biblos, who owns the sound recording that was sampled in the track.
Open Mic Open Mic Productions dismisses the claims about Jerusalema. They responded in a statement sent to Drum magazine. “Open Mic Productions wishes to categorically dismiss the claims made by Biblos and DJ Charmza that they composed Jerusalema, the hit song by MasterKG, as entirely without merit, defamatory and vexatious,” the statement reads.
“Furthermore, we are aware of the statements made by an attorney from Adams and Adams a reputable law firm based in Pretoria, who was interviewed by one of the media houses on 25 July 2022. It is regrettable and unfortunate that factually misleading statements were made by the attorney who was interviewed concerning this matter which is pending before the courts, and which in the fullness of time, the court will hear evidence in relation to.
"It is inappropriate to pass allegations as facts – allegations which are not yet tested in court. Naturally, Open Mic does not want to be entangled in litigation through the media, however, it does not take kindly to misleading statements concerning a matter which is yet to be considered and presided over by a court of law.”