If you haven’t heard, there is an ongoing dispute between Rotterdam native Munchi, and Harlem, NYC based Azealia Banks over rights to use a song titled “Esta Noche” (previously produced by Munchi). The term ‘original’ is really the focal point of this argument, and is sparking a debate that has many artists, producers and bloggers chiming in.
Let’s back track for a minute for those who aren’t up to speed.
This is where it all began, “Esta Noche” (released 2010) was an original mix by Munchi, which featured samples from a Montell Jordan track titled, “Get It On Tonight” (released 1999). ”Esta Noche” was released for free on a mixtape collaboration with moombahton producer Heartbreak, titled “F*** H&M.”
Now let’s fast forward to July 11, 2012. NYC rapper Azealia Banks releases a much anticipated mixtape titled “Fantasea” that featured 19 tracks, 1 of which was titled “Esta Noche.” Azealia Banks’ “Esta Noche” was a cover of Munchi’s “Esta Noche” which added her vocals over the original track.
Adding vocals over original tracks is quite common throughout the mixtape world, and especially for Azealia Banks, whose first single “212” added her vocals over an original track by Lazy Jay titled “Float My Boat.” Lazy Jay, however, was featured in the release of “212.”
This brings us to our current dispute among the two artists. It’s not entirely sure when, but according to Munchi, Azealia Banks’ team reached out to Munchi to cut a deal in which Azealia would be able to release her version of “Esta Noche” as a single. Munchi claims he was offered $25,000 and a public apology in return for the release of the song. Munchi, however, publicly denied the offer, which set off a large scale debate on the topic.
Netherlands native producer Afrojack, also chimed in with his thoughts on the conflict. Afrojack tweets, “I just saw a guy stealing a song, and then getting pissed someone stole the song he stole… Hey you there, need help getting that stick removed from your ass?”
Speaking on the definition of “original.” Azealia Banks told us back in July, that she had every right to use “Esta Noche” as her track because it was being used on a mixtape. In that sense she is correct, because Munchi’s “Esta Noche” was released the very same way. But releasing it as a single puts the terms of ‘original’ under the microscope.
Is Munchi the original owner of “Esta Noche,” the answer is no.
Samples used in “Esta Noche” were used in Montell Jordan’s original track “Get It On Tonight” and unless those samples were cleared, Munchi doesn’t have proper rights to call “Esta Noche” ‘his track.’ Subsequently, Azealia Banks has less of a right to call “Esta Noche” hers. In the sense of legality, whoever clears the uncleared samples is the proper owner. Reiterating what Afrojack said, in this case, a song was stolen from someone who stole a song from someone else (from Azealia Banks to Munchi to Montell Jordan).
Unfortunately, integrity did not play a part in this conflict. Had Azealia Banks contacted Munchi prior to the release of the mixtape, none of this probably would have happened.
Take this situation with a grain of salt and be sure to handle your music very carefully.