Mohbad: Indications Mount That MohBad’s Controversial Death May Reshape Nigerian Music Industry!!!
In the wake of the controversial and untimely demise of fast-rising rapper, singer, and songwriter Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, professionally known as MohBad, there are strong signs that the Nigerian music industry could be at the cusp of a significant transformation in artist-record label relationships.
Amidst fervent protests from his fans, the police have initiated investigations to uncover the true circumstances behind MohBad’s death, which involved the exhumation of his body and the subsequent autopsy conducted last Thursday.
Stakeholders believe that the aftermath of the singer’s tragic passing might usher in a renaissance within the industry, which, as of 2021, was estimated to be worth $19 billion and generating over $2 billion (N1.5 trillion) in annual revenue. Key players hope to establish a system that fosters mutually beneficial agreements between artists and record labels.
The National Assembly has already taken steps towards addressing this issue by revealing plans to establish a commission responsible for resolving disputes between record labels and their signees. Senator Ishaku Abbo, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Creative Economy and representative of Adamawa North Senatorial District, made this announcement during his condolence visit to MohBad’s mother, Mrs. Adebose Olumuyi.
He stated, “I have received petitions from Nigerians calling for either a creative economy or entertainment economy commission where disputes that arise between record labels and their signees would be settled. When we have this commission, nobody will start taking things into their own hands. But this doesn’t exist now in this country, and I assure you that the Senate of the 10th assembly, in collaboration with the Minister for Creative Economy, will come up with a commission called the Creative Economy Commission.”
MohBad, aged 27 and formerly signed to Marlian Records, passed away on September 12, 2023. Prior to his untimely demise, he had parted ways with the record label in 2022, citing unpaid royalties from 2019 as the primary reason. He accused the label of failing to honor their contractual agreement to pay him royalties from his intellectual property and advances on his music.
His departure from the label was announced in a statement issued on October 25, 2022, by his management and legal team. The statement revealed that MohBad’s exit was prompted by continuous attacks allegedly orchestrated by Naira Marley, the label’s owner, following MohBad’s demand for unpaid royalties and the replacement of his manager, who happened to be Marley’s brother.
The document stated, “In contravention of the terms of the arrangement between our client and yourself, you have failed to pay any advances as mutually agreed by both parties since 2019 till date. You have also failed to pay all royalties due to our client from all his intellectual property works monetized, released, and utilized by you from 2019 till date.”
On October 5, 2022, MohBad took to his Twitter account to share images of injuries he sustained, claiming they resulted from an assault by the Marlian crew. This alleged assault occurred because he had requested a change in his manager.
“Just because I want to change my manager, who is their brother, see what they did to me at Marlian House. World, please help me; I’m dying inside,” he tweeted.
MohBad also accused Naira Marley of being present during the assault but not intervening. However, the circumstances surrounding his eventual death remain unclear, sparking a demand for fair treatment of artists by their record labels. Artists are also being advised to conduct thorough due diligence before entering into agreements.
Notable rapper Fasasi Mobolaji Gaius, widely known as Da Emperor in the entertainment industry, emphasized that many artistes, like MohBad, face exploitation and humiliation in the hands of their record labels but often remain silent or unable to leave due to various factors.
Da Emperor, who serves as the CEO of Etiemelo Empire Entertainment, shared his perspective, saying, “For MohBad’s incident, we all saw videos of multiple harassments and pronounced hatred on him, which went viral after his demise. He also talked about his struggles and pains through his music, although many didn’t pay much attention to these details. Many artistes have been in a similar situation or are currently experiencing it.”
He acknowledged the challenges in the industry, such as favoritism, sycophancy, nepotism, and contractual terms, but stressed the importance of reviewing contracts with entertainment lawyers before signing them.
Da Emperor further explained, “Yes, I know that most deals come to artists who already have promising futures or are doing well with their music before the deal is offered to them, to lighten their load. However, if we must be truly realistic, nothing is free, even in Freetown. Anyone who invests heavily in an artist expects to profit from their success (whether they claim it’s help or business).”
He noted that the key factors in artist-label relationships often revolve around finances, competition, and creative control. While some artists may have successful partnerships with labels, others face challenges when their contractual obligations outweigh their career longevity.
Da Emperor concluded, “I just hope it doesn’t go like the majority of most Nigerian cases/issues, which are mostly propaganda until they fade away. It’s saddening that his bright career had to be cut short, but ultimately, God knows best.”
He emphasized the importance of artists understanding the contracts they sign and the need to be cautious and observant in the industry.
Efe Omorogbe, CEO of Now Muzik, expressed his heartbreak over MohBad’s passing and commented on the issue of artists signing contracts without fully comprehending the terms.
He explained, “This often stems from a lack of education in music business matters and, in some cases, desperation. Typically, artists are presented with a draft contract for review before signing. It is expected that artists engage knowledgeable lawyers to assist in negotiations and reviewing the contract.”
Regarding allegations of artists being forced to engage in activities against their conscience or beliefs by their record labels, Omorogbe suggested that sweeping generalizations might be misleading. He pointed out that disputes between artists and labels usually result in legal battles or public disputes rather than physical confrontations or unethical demands.
Omorogbe stressed that while challenges exist in the industry, artists often rely on labels for support, including financial investment, strategy development, personnel, and essential resources. He urged the need to place situations in the right context.
Investigations revealed that disputes between artists and record labels are not uncommon in Nigeria. Many artists, driven by the allure of lucrative contracts, fail to conduct due diligence before signing, resulting in contractual disputes and issues of exploitation.
Examples of such disputes include the Runtown versus EricMany case, the Brymo versus Chocolate City conflict, the Jaywon versus Kennis Music battle, and the Vector versus YSG rift. These cases highlight the importance of artists comprehending the terms of their contracts and seeking legal advice before entering into agreements.
The music industry, like many others, has its challenges, including contractual disputes, change in terms, financial constraints, and the pressure to produce hit songs and remain relevant. Amidst these challenges, record labels can serve as valuable allies to artists, offering resources and support for career advancement. However, it’s essential to address issues transparently and ensure fair treatment for all parties involved.