Juntal's song stirs controversy

HARARE – Rising local rhumba artiste Juntal has been accused of plagiarising the beat of his red-hot latest release Mutupo from Ivorian singer Bebi Philip’s 2014 hit Balaumba.

The uncanny similarity of the beat on both songs has prompted several artistes and fans who have listened to the song to allege that the Chitungwiza-born Juntal, who was born Farai Serima,  superimposed Shona lyrics on the popular Ivorian singer’s old hit.

But in an interview with the Daily News, Juntal professed his innocence.

“As far as I am concerned the songs are different. The beat in most rhumba songs generally sounds the same that is why I am not surprised that some people think I copied someone’s song,” said Juntal.

He added that he has been excited by the controversy his song is generating.

“Though some people are saying this and that, the debate around my song shows that it has attracted attention in Zimbabwe and in the Diaspora,” said Juntal whose video for the song Mai Bhoyi won the 2012 Video of the Year accolade on ZBC-TV.

There is a raging debate on Facebook on whether Juntal say is a by-product of sampling or downright plagiarism.

Jibilika Dance Trust founder Plot Mhako, who initiated the debate on his Facebook page, alleged that Juntal even translated the lyrics of Balaumba. 

“The artiste did more than sampling. He took the lyrics and translated them to Shona, and took the video concept as it is,” wrote Mhako.

Jazz artiste Josh Meck was even more scathing. “Pathetic! I am embarrassed as an artist to witness such thievery,” he wrote.

Mbira star Hope Masike also waded into the debate. “Sampling exists and is deemed legal, without attracting a usage fee, within only 10 seconds of the original song… I still think in most instances it is wrong, and like piracy, it has killed another potential revenue stream for the real creative…worse still when a musician steals without acknowledging the so-called ‘inspiration’, or paying for the copying,” said the award-winning mbira star.

But Juntal also has his backers.

One Jordan Link believes Juntal should actually be praised for the manner he sampled the song.

“I feel we have a long way in accepting how other musicians inspire other musicians’ creativity and musical journey. Music is art and it is okay for other artists to sample, emulate, translate and get inspiration from an artiste who ignites their creative capacity.

“International artistes do it, so why is it so difficult to embrace it when our artistes do it? Juntal did a great job.

“You can pick out the Koffi/Papa Wemba influence, Awilo dances and I feel it’s a great tribute to African music icons who affected the music cloud in our upbringing,” Link wrote on Facebook. 

Kingston Sithole also fought in the artiste’s corner.

“That song is dope. Why are Zimbabweans good at unnecessarily criticising our own artistes. Instead of inspiring and correcting each other all we say is copy, copy, copy! Which artiste doesn’t copy?” asked Sithole.

One Pita Moyo also exonerated the red-hot artiste. “Juntal did justice to his version though. It is powerful and sweet........ Copying bla bla ndabva ndazvikanda kure. Thank you for making me know about the Juntal song.... Mangwana ndoyandoswerera,” he said.

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