Is Koch Records Stealing Songs From Their Artists?
HipHopDX.com has learned of a potentially controversial situation that has developed involving the A&R department at indie powerhouse label Koch Records, producers who have worked on recent releases for the label, and both former and present Koch artists who feel they have been wronged by the labels practice of placing the same beats on multiple artists albums.
HipHopDX spoke exclusively with some of the invested parties in this situation: rappers AZ and Jha Jha (formerly of Dipset), producer J. Waxx Garfield, and Koch A&R rep Bob Perry.
The current contentious situation that has developed between Kochs A&R department and some of its artists began yesterday (April 8th) with the release of singer Ray Js second solo album on Koch, All I Feel.
Upon listening to track #11 on the CD, Real Nigga featuring Styles P (above), fans of AZ might be surprised to discover that the same track used for Go Getta, featuring Ray J (below), that was included on AZs most recent Koch-backed release, Undeniable [click to listen], was re-used (sans AZ) for Ray Js album, which was released just one week after AZs.
It was very disrespectful [what they did], says AZ of the decision to take one beat and fashion two songs out of it. I already had a shouting match with them. And Bob Perry [was the one that] pulled that off right there. It was disrespectful, because you gotta understandme and Ray J had that record recorded prior [to Real Nigga].
While the same J. Waxx Garfield produced beat can be heard fueling both tracks, the version of the song that appears on Ray Js album features Brandys baby brother singing real nigga in place of go getta on the cuts chorus before launching into the same sung verse that can be heard opening AZs Go Getta. And where AZs rhymes can be heard trailing Ray Js singing on Go Getta, Styles P is the sole spitter heard on Real Nigga.
That was the deal, basically, says Kochs urban A&R director of the past four years, Bob Perry, regarding Ray J and AZ sharing a beat. Ray J and AZ both record at my studio and Ray J picked the track from J [Waxx Garfield]. So, he starts recording the song. And his vision for the song is he wants to put a rapper on the song. And so he records his part, Ima go getta, go getta, and AZ comes thru. Hes like, Yo, let me jump on that. So AZ gets on the song, they got a song and its done. Two or three days later I see Ray J again, [and] hes like, Bob, I want to switch up the song. I dont like the hook. I want to change the hook and I wanna use a different rapper. I dont wanna use AZ, I wanna use Fabolous.
According to Bob, he then proceeded to explain to Ray J that the song was already planned for inclusion on AZs forthcoming project. And hes like, No sweat, lets just do two versions. Ima have my version for my album the way that I want it, and AZ can have his version the way he wants it for his album.
AZ however asserts he was never informed of these plans for the track, a claim his A&R disputes. I think A tends to hear shit the way he wants to hear it, says Perry. He got a J. Waxx track and a Ray J hook for free, so... We didnt give him the track for free so we couldnt use it again. We said, Hey, we know you did this, were cool with you using it, but that doesnt mean that were not gonna do something else with it. I dont think its that serious [of a situation]. I dont know how many people are gonna buy both [Ray J and AZs albums]. I dont think its a big news story.
The two songs one producer, J. Waxx Garfield, was equally unimpressed with the implied seriousness of this situation when asked for his thoughts on AZs song becoming Ray Js. Yeah, so?, replied the man behind countless classic creations including The LOXs Money, Power & Respect. [Ray Js version] is hot too. [Laughs]. Yeah, I knew [that the beat would be used for both songs]. I dont know if it was clear [to AZ that was happening]. I gotta talk to A. I thought A knew what was going on.
While AZ apparently didnt know what was going on, J insists the producers who submit tracks to Perry for his artists do know of this track-sharing practice, and the current Koch in-house beatmaker remains steadfast in refusing to throw his production guarantor under the bus. I cant do that to Bob, says J. He was there when I needed him. He does things appropriate to resolve a situation. [Laughs]. Sometimes it aint kosher, but it gets done.
The Dipsets former femme fatale, Jha Jha, was the first artist to publicly claim that Mr. Perrys business practices were far from kosher. Roughly a year ago Jha was in Perrys Brooklyn recording studio at Bobs request to write hooks for songs that would eventually appear on the most recent releases by Jhas then crewmates Hell Rell and 40 Cal. [Bob] pulled me away from that session, recalls Jha, and was like, Jha Jha, I got this crazy beat for youYou gotta do something with it.
Perry often has artists record songs in his own studio at his own expense and then takes the recordings to Koch for possible placement, and apparently Jha Jha was under the impression that her recording during that session in Perrys studio would too be placed somewhere, but according to Jha, [Bob] never talked about the record again. So Im like, Bob, what happened with the record? And he was like, Oh, everybody [at Koch] loved the record, but its too big to put on a Koch scale. Let me see if I can get you this thing with Capitol. All these lies.
Perry insists that he did indeed take Jha Jhas record to Capitol Records for consideration, but the label chose to pass on releasing the song. But a few months after the songs completion, Jha Jha received an email boasting a new record from Foxy Brown entitled Lights Out. So I listened to it, and its the same exact record [as mine], she explains. And Im like, Wow, this guy just sold my record.
Not exactly says J. Waxx Garfield. Jha Jha, I dont wanna say it like this, but shes a liar, he asserts. She didnt write the chorus [to the song], thats my artist Kira that did the chorus. That was Kiras song at first, [a song] called Roller coaster. She wrote the chorus. All Bob did was have Jha Jha reference it. Shes talking about that was her record, thats a lie.
Perrys version of the events that led to one beat becoming three tracks coincides with Js, reiterating Js claim that Jha was merely referencing a song (also known as demo-ing a track) for him. She did a reference to [the track], he explains. It happens all the time. We have songwriters in the studio. They go in the booth [and] reference the lyrics. And then we show [the song] to an artist or show it to a label. Thats what she did.
Bob contends Jha Jha knew she was referencing a track for other potential song suitors, and having not paid for the track it was not hers to claim ownership of.
He further explains that Kiras project eventually stalled which led to him removing her verses from the song to reconfigure the track as a rap record for Foxy Brown, who was at the time contemplating her move to Koch. [But] the negotiations with Foxy [to sign to Koch] were dragging on for months, like four/five months, Perry explains. Meanwhile [Foxys] got the song and I never heard anything [from her regarding the track] again.
According to Bob, Jha Jha then came to him asking for a radio-friendly track that could potentially woo a label into signing her. And to that request, he provided her the Roller coaster track with Kiras hook still in the song. [But] two or three weeks after [Jha Jha recorded her version of the song] we close the deal with Foxy, he explains. And by the way, turns out she loves the song and shes already recorded to it. They had just been holding back because they didnt know if they were gonna do the deal with [Koch]. So, then she gets locked up and goes to jail. Now I gotta make a Foxy Brown album, weve already paid her. And guess what, theres only ten songs to work with, thats all she did before she got locked up. So what am I supposed to do say, Oh, Jha Jha referenced vocals on this song so I shouldnt use the version that Foxy Brown recorded?
While Perry concedes that Jha Jha was indeed left out of the loop regarding the tracks trek from her to Foxy, he did attempt to clarify the situation with her after she went to the press complaining of his alleged shadiness in the handling of said track. Once all these news items started hitting [the net last fall] I tried to reach out to her and say, Hey, what are you doing? And she never called me back.
J. Waxx Garfield was stunned by Jha Jhas decision to take her dispute with Perry public, especially after all of the career aid J contends Bob was providing Jha. He would give [Jha Jha] free studio time, he reveals. He was looking out! I didnt understand why she did that.
[Bob] called my phone, Jha Jha admits of Perrys attempt to reconcile their differences. He was trying to talk. Its a little skit on my mixtape [Git It Girl Vol. 2: The Black Barbie Edition] about him. I recorded one of his voice messages [and put it on the mixtape].
Unmoved by Perrys pleas, Jha has since returned to her hometown of Miami to run her own company, Git It Girl Entertainment, in conjunction with Dj Vu Entertainment, and is prepping the release of a new single, Money Talks, as well as a new album.
And it now looks as though AZ might be following in Jha Jhas footsteps and ceasing his work with Perry due to what he sees as an A&Rs blatant disrespect for the artists he is employed to assist. Hes been disrespectful from day one, AZ says of Perry. Theres been a lot of mix-ups with a lot of peoples music that comes in and out of [Perrys] studio. I think his care level for the game is zero. He dont give a fuck, all he wanna do is get records out, sell records. He dont give a fuck how artists look.
An accusation Bob vehemently denies. AZ and I have made [his] last three albums together, he reminds. And there was a similar situation with The Hardest, [which was] on Styles album [The Ghost Sessions] and its also on [AZs] album. Its just the way it is. In order to get the deal done we had to use [the song] for both albums. Were an independent label. Were working with a limited budget, and in order to do what we had to do we said, Alright, lets do two sets of vocals. We use one set on As album and well use one set on Styles album. No ones trying to get over on anybody. No ones trying to steal anything from anybody.