Grind by Vision DJ and A.I was undoubtedly one of the biggest songs in Ghana last year with the song still enjoying airplay and rotation on various stations as well as nighgt clubs.
It is however still a riddle as to how such a beautifully composed songs didnt pick up several awards under the year of review last year but that is another debate for another day.
Fast forward to 2017, A.I has followed up with projects such as “Burn Fat” and “Paper” which are also good songs but honestly pale in comparison to Grind. The impact of Grind was soo big that several artistes and celebrities outside Ghana were spotted at one point singing along or dancing to its endearing vibe; One of such artiste being Nigerian Reggae Afrobeat star Burna Boy.
The Don Gorgon hitmaker took his love of “Grind” further by recording an unofficial remix to the song which he titled “Chilling Chilling” Burna Boy ft A.I (Grind Re-Up) much to the disgust of A.I, Vision DJ and a section of Ghanaians on socia media.
One would have expected the Nigerian artiste to reach out to Vision DJ and A.I for a proper remix afterall they are just a DM away but he opted to release an unofficial remix and for some reason left out Vision DJ; the owner and the main figure behind the song being the success it is today.
GH twitter went into overdrive as Burna Boy soon realised the gravity of his error with most Ghanaians labeling him a thief a controversy he further compounded by blocking anyone speaking ill about him or his song including A.I himself, DKB and Yfm’s Joel Orleans. Drama! Drama!! Drama!!! It all became one big mess! but the question is can we really call Burna a thief for an unofficial remix when our artistes have done same in the past?
In this era of covers, refixes and everything in between can we say an artiste wants to steal a hit song if he doesnt ask for permission before recording his version but still acknowledges the original? GH artistes have been doing this for years. Hold up! lets look at the facts in Black and White and not Red Gold Green because I know at this point you want proof so calm down let me give you a crash course in music history.
In 2009 Kwaku T released an unofficial remix to 2face Idibia’s For Instance did 2face know about it?! Naah i doubt…did we call him a thief? No!
Some sources also indicate that Sarkodie’s Ojuelegba remix was also unofficial although Wizkid’s team later uploaded it on the Starboy channel on Youtube partly due to the buzz it generated.
Juxtaposing what Burna Boy did with what Drake achieved with “Hotline Bling” by completely jacking D.R.A.M’s “Cha Cha” song, changing the title, altering the beat and not acknowledging the original and you can clearly see where im going with this.
In an interview with The Fader Drake explained saying
“You know, like in Jamaica, you’ll have a riddim and it’s like, everyone has to do a song on that,” Drake said. “Imagine that in rap, or imagine that in R&B. Imagine if we got one beat and every single person—me, this guy, this guy, all these guys—had to do a song on that one beat” this however didnt sit well with D.R.A.M who tweeted saying “I feel i got jacked for my record”
As you may know although Riddim culture is a norm in Dancehall, artiste dont usually alter the beat since that is frowned upon so Drake’s explanation about “Hot line Bling” was a sugar coated lie to say the least.
So had Burna Boy re-engineered the beat, maintained elements of “Grind” and didnt recognise the composers of the original, like Drake did we will be having a different discussion.
Take a look at Sarkodie. He jumps on every beat now and then and sometimes changes the name and doesn’t even indicate its a cover and we dont say anything . Remember Kumasi Kumasi? Young Young Girls?! Mile 7 saga?! Kanta?! The list goes on. Im sure he assumes that we know its a freestyle or a cover but the truth is some people dont.
Remember when E40 gave Sark props for his Choices cover although he didnt indicate it was a cover of his song upon release? Most Ghanaians thought it was an original song by Sark. Did we call Sark a thief?! No!
So where from these double standards?!
Furthermore my search for the original Grind beat online has so far proved futile so another pertinent question is how did Burna Boy get the beat?
Reaching out to Producer Kuvie, he bemoaned how Burna Boy “RELEASED” the song but didnt accept or deny rumours that he “SENT” him the beat. Could it be they were going to work on it and after negotiations failed Burna Boy still went ahead to release his version? Answers are still sketchy at this point.
Playing the Devil’s advocate im sure Burna Boy didnt even know the song was for Vision DJ heck even some Ghanaians dont even know becuase its not like Vision DJ was screaming his name in the song like DJ Khalid for it to be obvious. DJ’s owning songs and featuring on songs is still a new concept in our industry. That being said Burna could have avoided this confusion if he just hit up A.I and Vision DJ for a remix or asked for their blessing before releasing it as a form of “professional courtesy” (John Wick voice)
From a business point i think A.I could have flipped this to his favour instead of lashing out on social media.
This was also a chance for him to tap into Burna’s 2 million followers on social media…either by sweeping everything under the rag or collaborating with Burna’s rival and taking shots at him. Hate him or love him Burna Boy is still a bigger act than A.I. with a tall list of hit songs. As an upcoming act like A.I you need to look at converting everything into mileage to fuel your following and brand. Its not fair i know but look at D.R.A.M and Drake, Rashid Metal and Stonebwoy, the smaller acts always dont get anything from lashing out. Its a matter of making lemonade with lemons and lets be honest we all know the same people fighting for A.I on social media will be the same to troll him when his buzz dies down. Like they say dont get mad get even.
So in conclusion although Burna Boy didnt steal the song he deserves all the insults on social media becuase he could have avoided all this if he had done the right thing or apologised after his error instead of childisly blocking people and as for A.I he better be writing a diss song or take advantage of this buzz somehow.
Author: George Adu-Boahene