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Phyno Rapper needs to learn these lessons from 'I'm a fan' controversy

Sign papers, don’t send WhatsApp texts. You never can tell when you will need the law on your side.

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Phyno and Pia Mia play

Phyno and Pia Mia

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Phyno is having his moment in the sun right now. From being the victim of a song theft scandal, to being guilty and now he is back to being the victim again. Not of theft, but deceit. Almost because not everyone will follow the crowd mentality and justify his actions.

The facts of the case remain that Phyno and Pia Mia released the same song created by the songwriter DeCarlo also known as T Coles.

The controversy that has surrounded the release of American singer Pia Mia’s ‘I’m a fan’ single is damning of the Nigerian mentality. We are carried away by emotions and sentiments. We believe that in this age of internet connectivity and enhanced music business education, that an artist signed to a major label as big as Interscope Records, will steal the sound recording of Nigerian artist and replicate it for an official release.

Pulse had earlier reported that Pia Mia did not steal Phyno’s song, instead, the song was sent to Phyno, who reconstructed it, gave production credits to his local producer Benjamz, and released it on his project. And that was what happened. Phyno and DeCarlo had a conversation, and informal barter terms were reached. The song was released on Phyno’s album “The Playmaker.”

But Phyno assumed that the music business in the US is the same as the UK.

DeCarlo who already had the song, but believed that it could fetch good money, was shopping it around to sell. But by his barter with Phyno, the music was released. The only evidence of this barter are cropped screenshots of their alleged WhatsApp conversation between Phyno and DeCarlo.

DeCarlo and Pia Mia during a studio session in the US. This photo was shared via Instagram on November 23, 2016. play

DeCarlo and Pia Mia during a studio session in the US. This photo was shared via Instagram on November 23, 2016.



DeCarlo still had his single. Officially, it still belonged to him. Phyno did not pay him for the song, and so had no official claim to it. Pia Mia and her team called it in, paid for it, and legally own the single. In other words, they own the right to the material which Phyno reconstructed.



When passed through a moral filter, it is unfair what DeCarlo did to Phyno. He gave him something based on his word, and sold it for money to some other person. Setting both parties up for a clash. That clash has happened, and the truth is in the light. DeCarlo is no one’s friend. He is a young US hustler looking to get his name out and his work in. He is selfish, and it has worked for him. He took a spot on Phyno’s album, got a sweet promo from Phyno, and also made money from selling the song to Pia Mia.

Pia Mia and her team are faultless. They got a demo, liked it, and did business the right way, according to the IP laws that govern the US, and they own the song. They legally own the single. No qualms here.

But Phyno was either naïve, careless, or unprofessional to reconstruct, record and release a single that has no paperwork with the songwriter. That’s why this saga started in the first place. If Phyno had any valid legal documents backing his claim to the single, Pia Mia will never have had a leg to stand on, or even purchased the record from DeCarlo.



All Phyno has are WhatsApp chats which are not admissible in a court of law. Pia Mia owns the song because she paid for it. Phyno’s informal conversation makes him secure in the eyes of the public, but it does not give him ownership of the single.

Phyno’s case is representative of how music business is conducted in Nigeria between artists. Contracts are rarely ever drawn, and everything is done by word of mouth. That’s why if you scratch the underbelly of the industry, you will find numerous disgruntled artists who have lost in the game because of unprofessionalism. No papers were signed, only word of mouth and trust in the character of the person.



Phyno trusted DeCarlo, who used him, got a sweet deal from Pia Mia and left him to hang. Neither Phyno nor Pia Mia are thieves. DeCarlo played his cards, and played them all.

We should do better in Nigeria. If we say it is our time to shine on the global stage, then we need to tear up all the previous rules of engagement, and get orientation on how business is properly conducted. Once we master that, we can sort out all the backroom drama legally, and focus on pushing the art to the next level.

I hope Phyno’s case is a huge lesson to everyone else. Sign papers, don’t send WhatsApp texts. You never can tell when you will need the law on your side.

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