When Damian “Junior Gong” Marley’s representatives contacted Original Bembe selector Jigsy for him to sign off on the artist’s sampling of Buju Banton’s Me & Oonu (Bongo Cart) for the song R.O.A.R. from his Grammy-winning Stony Hill album, the Kingston native was stupefied.
Unknown to him, in 2006, long before artists were paying attention to copyright, split sheets and things of that nature, the Gargamel did a most honourable act, by slapping his name on the writing credits for Me and Oonu (Bungo Cart), for what he selector regarded as a simple suggestion to create the song.
Buju’s act of integrity is being highlighted at a time when accusations are rife in relation to numerous top artists failing to acknowledge, or give writing credits to colleagues who contributed to their hit songs whether via suggesting lines, verses, melodies or sometimes penning entire songs.
Jigsy told The Weekend Star that Buju’s decision to give him intellectual property rights to the song, has changed his life forever, and enabled him to reap the rewards of royalties and support himself and his family.
Bungo Cart was released in 2006 on the Danger Zone label.
Jigsy, who, along with Richie Feelings, who was a resident selector and member of the original Bembe Squad, told The Star that even though he only contributed the idea, Buju’s act of kindness and honour is “paying off for him now” in royalties.
“I am grateful to Buju because I was the one who gave him the idea for part of the song Me & Oonu (Bungo Cart) and he gave me credit for it, which I didn’t even know. The royalty from that song is my only steady income now,” Jigsy, whose given name is Stephen Carridice, had told the tabloid.
According to The Star report, Jigsy, recounted that at the time the single was conceptualized, another artist Risto Benjie was playing around in the studio, while conducting a dub session for some Japanese clients.
“Risto was trying to hustle Buju and they got into an argument and Buju tell him ‘Yuh see next year, watch me an oonu [expletive].’
“As Buju said that I could hear the punchline and is like it was just beating in my head. I said it to Buju and him call Angel Doolas and the two of them write the song same time,” the selector recounted.
Jigsy said he only knew he had been listed as a co-author of the song in 2017 after he received a message from Dancehall artist/producer Serani, that Marley’s road manager was searching for him.
When he spoke to Junior Gong’s team, they told him that the song had been sampled on the artist’s Stony Hill album and since he was a songwriter and Buju was out of action, they had been looking for him to sign off on the use of the song.
“I never even know what to believe. I did think it was some kind of scam because I didn’t know that Buju did credit me. Eventually we sort out the paperwork and I get US$1,500 (J$220,500) for the few little words mi put in the song and every three months mi get my royalty,” said Jigsy, the Danga Zone selector said.
Buju’s act of integrity starkly contrasts that of several artists who have been accused by contributors to their hit songs, of refusing to give songwriter credits to people who have contributed in some way to the tracks.
Mr. Vegas and Elephant Man are among the artists who have been accused in recent times, of being unsavoury.
Last year, Mr. Vegas and his former friend Tyrical, had a series of clashes online after the Want My Own artist released a series of rants claiming, among other things, that he helped Vegas pen his Danny Browne-produced 1998 breakout hit Heads High.
Tyrical, who was also the writer of Bounty Killer’s hit song Sufferer, said that at the time when Vegas was writing Heads High, he had visited him and the two of them had knocked heads during the creative process. Tyrical had said he gave Vegas structural ideas for the song, contrary to the Nike Air singer’s claim that they were no longer friends when Heads High was written.
Vegas had denied the claims at first and then later said his memory might have been foggy since the song was written decades ago, and but insisted that he did not remember Tyrical being present.
Heads High has sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide and has also been sampled 12 times by artists worldwide, among them the likes of Nicki Minaj, Black Eyed Peas, Canadian rapper Tori Lanez and New York-based rapper Action Branson.
In terms of Elephant Man, in November 2019, Billboard songwriter and producer Kirk ‘Koolface’ Ford had told the Star that he and a team of lawyers were seeking to obtain publishing rights for work he did with the now 45-year-old.
Koolface had said that he had co-written several tracks for Elephant Man, including the hits Signal the Plane and Blaze, but was is not listed as an author for any of the songs and was never compensated for his contributions.
“I know Elephant Man from high school because we went to the same school. We were reintroduced through the music when I was doing sound system works,” Koolface had told the tabloid.
“At first I gave him a couple of lines for songs- you know you’d listen and fix a few things here and there – and we never take it as nothing, it was just a little thing,” he said.
According to Koolface, the trend continued with him penning and arranging songs without compensation from Ele, until he got fed up of being exploited.
“But eventually it led up to every time him need a song or supmn, I was being called and I would be going to the studio and be writing songs. I realise I was writing these songs and these songs were becoming popular and all kinds of stuff was happening and I wasn’t getting paid. When we started having conversations about these things, that’s when things between us started going left,” Koolface had said.
“Most of the time on these songs, I either do most of the writing or most of the arrangement,” he added.
In September 2017, producer Michael Bell, known for his work with Gyptian on My Girl, told The Gleaner that “some Jamaican artistes put so little effort into the recording process that even entourage members and producers are forced to contribute to the development of the final product”, but are oftentimes exploited.
“Oftentimes, the entourage members don’t get any publishing for their contribution, so are exploited as well. After the song is done, some of these artistes refuse to sign the publishing split sheet…,” he explained.
He said many artists were unprofessional, as signing a publishing split sheet, which designates credits for a song was very simple. He also said many of them were also “shifty, dishonest and selfish”, and as a consequence, many have destroyed their own careers while “international acts are benefiting more from our music than us”.