From banger to beef: How 'Jerusalema' went from world number 1 to centre of a royalties feud
It was the biggest hit to come out of Southern Africa last year, capturing the attention of millions around the world and sparking several dance challenges to its infectious beat; but hit song Jerusalema is now at the centre of a messy royalties dispute.
The song, which at its peak was the most-searched song in the world on Shazam, brought Master KG and Nomcebo Zikode international fame.
Its use in social media videos around the world and more than 400 million streams on YouTube reportedly bagged its creators millions in royalties and revenue.
However, it also sparked a feud between the two over how the song's royalties should be split.
Nomcebo took to social media at the weekend to allege that she had “not been paid a cent” by her label for the song. Master KG hit back, alleging the songstress had received more than R1m for the song.
Here's a brief timeline of the events so far, captured in 9 key moments.
THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN HIT
While nations around the world locked down their borders to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, millions turned to social media to find a “happy distraction”, finding joy in a dance challenge to the song under the hashtag #JerusalemaChallenge.
Globally, people, including healthcare workers, police officers, priests, actors, convicts, ministers and even animals, took part in the challenge.
100 million views
Master KG told TshisaLIVE early last year that he hoped the song would reach 100 million views on YouTube, and by August he had achieved his goal.
“I still can't believe it. Thank you world for making it possible,” he wrote on Twitter after reaching the milestone.
EVEN CRISTIANO RONALDO AND JANET JACKSON WERE DANCING
As the song's popularity grew, it started popping up on the TL of the world's rich and famous. Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo used the song for a cute family video, while musos Janet Jackson and Chance the Rapper also praised the song.
Will & Grace actor Leslie Jordan joked that he finally discovered a song that “let’s you eat and dance at the same time”.
MOST-SEARCHED SONG IN THE WORLD
Shazam announced in September that Jerusalema was the most-searched song in the world on the app.
PRESIDENTIAL SEAL OF APPROVAL
A few days later, President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the song a shoutout and revealed that he was a big fan.
He also encouraged the nation to participate in the Jerusalema dance challenge on Heritage Day.
“There can be no better way to celebrate our South Africanness than joining the global phenomenon that is spreading across the world and that is the Jerusalema dance challenge, the Jerusalema song that I love so much,” said Ramaphosa.
INTERNATIONAL AWARD WINNER
In October last year, MTV announced that Master KG had bagged a nomination for Best African Act at the 2020 EMAs. He took home the award at a glitzy ceremony later in the year.
GETTING THOSE TIKTOK COINS
Earlier this year it was reported that a multiyear licensing agreement between TikTok and the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) and the Composers Authors and Publishers Association (Capasso) would see millions in royalties being paid to local artists.
The deal could see another massive windfall for Jerusalema's creators.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Nomcebo took to social media on Sunday morning, after reports by Sunday World that she had allegedly been sidelined by her record label Open Mic Productions, to allege that she had not seen a cent in royalties from her label.
“Thank you to all the fans of Jerusalema, you have made my dreams a reality, with attaining a global hit song. My voice and lyrics have transcended globally, but I still await what is due to me. I have not been paid a cent by the label for Jerusalema despite the song’s global success. I have been ridiculed, with efforts to marginalise my contribution,” Nomcebo said.
She added that the matter was now with her lawyers.
NOMCEBO GOT HER CUT, SAYS MASTER KG
In a now-deleted tweet, Master KG alleged Nomcebo had received more than R1m already and wanted more than what was “due to her”.
“Nomcebo, can you tell these people that you are demanding a bigger percentage than mine on this song? The agreement of Jerusalema is 50/50 between me and Nomcebo but [she] wants 70% and I must get 30%,” he claimed.