“Life Has Been Hard Since I Joined Showbiz”, Sailors Gang’s Cocos Juma Speaks Out.
It is now evident that the Gengetone wave of music brought many young youth out of the slums dealing with massive unemployment and drug abuse.
During the inception of the genre, there were many investors and promoters who were looking to empower the youth through music.
Turns out it was just business as usual for them even though they are international record label owners who are supposed to do good by the local artists.
These investors were not in for the long term support of the art but instead they ride with the artist from their come-up just to crucify them at the peak of their career.
Cocos Juma from the Sailors Gang took it to the public saying that they were blackmailed by Black Market Record Label, threatening to ruin them if they try to speak out.
“They give us a fake contract papers that is appealing only to bring out another one later after we had signed with them claiming that they now own us forever”, Cocos Juma said.
You might start blaming these artists for their ignorance or whatever you want to say about them but the rampant cartel corruption has infiltrated into the music industry in Kenya.
Even the lawyers representing these artists can easily be bribed or threatened to get in on the process of ‘owning the artist’ and make them their slave.
“We had a lawyer present at the contract signing but we still got F*cked by these international labels. Even our manager, Mwalimu Rachel, at the time claimed she doesn’t know where our streaming royalties amounting to over Ksh 15 Million monthly disappeared to. Even the YouTube revenue was nowhere to be seen. These labels are out here hunting to kill the music careers of many young artists coming out of the ghetto. They should avoid signing with anybody before doing enough research”, lamented Cocos Juma.
The Sailors Gang member said that these contract fall outs are what is sinking most gengetone artists into depression and drug abuse.
This probably happened to many artists like the recent situation with Maddox from The Boondocks Gang who has been completely alienated from the group.
If the label had the artist’s best interest at heart or even the intention to make money with the artist, the why hinder them from making music together as a group just like how you found them?
Things like these are what make you question the intentions of these labels targeting the talented vulnerable artists.
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Its like they are out here hunting to own the souls of young fresh out of the ghetto musicians but not to really invest in their music.
“We tried to take the matter to court but there are no laws that protect artists and intellectual property in Kenya. Many artists are suffering in silence because they are afraid to admit it or they have been threatened not to speak up”, “We even tried to visit the YouTube offices but we couldn’t find a physical one in Kenya so we had to just let it go”, Cocos said.
Since there is nothing he could do anymore, he went back to his earlier hassle as dreadlocks saloonist and he is proud that he was able to speak up about the situation.
Sailors Gang’s Fall-Out with Black Market Records and Mwalimu Rachel.
During the inception of Gengetone music genre into the mainstream media, there was now a clear indication that there was money to be made.
A lot of hits were created with a lot of music groups dominating the playlists and topping the streaming platforms online.
Sailors Gang was among the top music groups that were booking a lot of shows and touring all over the country.
At the time, they had an understanding with the NRG Radio personality, Mwalimu Rachel, who was their manager.
The group’s music videos were uploaded under their manager’s YouTube channel and all the revenue went to her.
Few months later, the pressure was building up when the fans became more aggravated by the fact that Mwalimu Rachel was taking advantage of the boys and she should let them have their music under Sailors Gang channel.
Eventually she gave up the videos and uploaded it on their channel but still she owned the passwords to the channel even though it was Sailors’ Gang channel.
She was still not giving the group total control over their music but still managing them before they had enough of how controlling she was even outside music.
This is when the Black Market Records (BMR) came in to sign them under its belt and promised the world if they join efforts with them.
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This is when things really went south; Mwalimu Rachel felt betrayed so she held their YouTube channel hostage and asked for a pay.
In order to give up the passwords, she demanded Ksh 1.5 Million from the group before parting ways with them. Remember that she had already misplaced millions of streaming royalties belonging to the group.
Since the group had already signed with BMR, she had to negotiate with the label for the pay and got compensated in Millions.
Now the label was back to pressing the group to get them the return on their investment which was probably too much for them to handle at the time.
According to Cocos Juma, one of the group members, they were going through a series of financial disagreements and a lot of money was misplaced by their manager.
They now started questioning everything including the contract they signed with the label and that is when they realized they had signed away all the rights to their music.
This meant that everything about the Sailors Gang including what they do as a group belongs to the label and that meant all the royalties they make from their music was gone.
Now everyone was frustrated and broke so they had to make tough choices that will help them survive even though their music career was now completely dead.
The group later split up and went back to doing what they used to do before blowing up in the music scene.