CHIMURENGA music veteran Thomas Mapfumo is furious and has disowned an album released in Harare last week, saying it is sub-standard and tarnishes his reputation.
Metro Studios last Friday allegedly released without permission Chaputika, an album that includes unedited versions of songs from Mapfumo’s forthcoming album.
Mapfumo was “shocked” to hear that he had released a new album last week when he, in fact, is in the studio putting final touches to his long-delayed album that disappeared before its release in Harare earlier this year.
Mapfumo’s lawyers this week wrote to Metro Studios as they prepared to file a lawsuit against Metro and the producer of the album.
“Metro was very unprofessional. Our lawyers are busy now trying to stop the sale of this shoddy album,” said Cuthbert Chiromo, Mapfumo’s replication manager.
United Kingdom-based Rodreck Chipezeze’s Quality Video and Film Productions allegedly breached a contract he entered with Mapfumo to only shoot for video the live show at Milton Keynes sponsored by Fredrick Matenga’s Y2K Promotions.
Chipezeze approached Gramma – which has a valid contract with Mapfumo – trying to have Chaputika recorded, but the studio “did not entertain him”.
He then turned to Metro, who allegedly did not heed Gramma’s advice to drop the project.
“Historically we’ve always handled Mapfumo’s work. I told Metro not to go ahead with the album if approached because I had been advised it was licensed to someone on DVD only,” Gramma general manager Angelo Angelos told Independent.
Angelos said they were still to decide on the action to take as they were yet to meet with Mapfumo’s representatives and lawyers.
“I understand the album also contains songs which were released by Gramma before, so we want to get hold of all the details before we map the way forward. If there were indeed any breaches we’ll take action, but for now I can’t say much,” said Angelos.
But Metro Studio director Emion Sibindi absolved his company of any wrongdoing, saying Metro was only sub-contracted to reproduce and distribute a master copy brought by an agent “contracted” by Mapfumo.
“If anyone has a question about Chaputika, the best person to talk to is the agent, because we only came in as a third party. That is why Mukanya has not questioned us directly,” Sibindi said.
But Chiromo wondered: “Where Metro got the audacity to release the album without permission, only God knows.”
“The producer of the album came to us with a master copy and signed a contract with us to reproduce and distribute the album. He told us he had the rights and consent of Mukanya to reproduce the compilation, and he will get the royalties,” Sibindi said.
“It was not recorded in our studio, but was a live performance which we had no control over. I personally think the quality is okay though I don’t know the type of equipment they used.”
Most of the titles on the sleeve of the “new” compilation are wrong. For example, the track Chinungu is supposed to be Ngoma Yekwedu, while Ndirimutongi’s correct title is Ndave Kuenda.
“You can’t just sell music like you are selling freezits. This unethical move is now tarnishing Mukanya’s image and reputation,” fumed Chiromo.
Barely a week after hitting the market, Masoja neMapurisa – a track pre-empted from Mapfumo’s forthcoming album – has already set tongues wagging because it brazenly slams the use of the army and police against the masses by a political leader.
Included on the 10-track compilation are classics such as Mukadzi waMukoma, Pasi Ndepe Nhaka and Pidigori Waenda.
“We are not amused not only by the wanton release of the compilation but also by the shoddy quality of the reproduction,” Chiromo said. “Mukanya is a perfectionist and he wouldn’t allow such a release to go on sale.”