Stormzy released his sophomore album in December last year and featured Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy on one of its biggest hits, “Own It.” In May, a remix was released which featured Sho Madjozi. The nominations for the 2020 BET awards were announced on the 15th June, where Stormzy, Burna Boy, and Sho Madjozi were all up for a Best International Act award.
Last night, Madjozi took to Twitter, saying, “For those asking where the #Ownitremix is, after I got nominated alongside him for BET Best International Act, Burna boy asked Stormzy’s team to take down the song immediately”
The thread continues, where she accuses Burna of being threatened by her nomination and included a Toni Morrison quote “If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, then you have a serious problem.” She also included a screenshot of what looks like an email from someone at Stormzy’s label saying that Burna requested to have the remix taken down.
Burna responded, saying that these are label issues that have nothing to do with him personally, and that it’s always best to reach out professionally.
Madjozi responded again saying “To believe this I would have to believe that: 1. The song got automatically flagged a month late by coincidence 2. When they said YOU wanted it down they meant your label 3. A big international label would release a song without clearing it”
While Madjozi seems to be disappointed by what she believes are Burna’s actions, there are a few oversights to her tweets. Burna Boy and Stormzy are essentially signed to the same label. Stormzy is under Atlantic (UK) and Burna Boy is under Atlantic (US), which are both part of the Warner umbrella. Sho Madjozi has signed to a new label, and while she hasn’t revealed exactly which label it is, our sources say that it isn’t one under the Warner umbrella.
Atlantic are known to be very particular about uncleared work for their artists, especially as it relates to artists on other labels. A case in point is when Cardi B (signed to Atlantic) previewed a remix of Davido’s “Fall” with a verse of hers as she was on her way to West Africa. Interviewed on Cool FM in Nigeria about the song, she said that her label had given her a hard time about the track, and that is why it wasn’t released. Davido is signed to Sony under RCA.
Burna is correct in two of the things that he said; these are label issues and not anything that he’s personally responsible for, and that it’s always best to reach out professionally. If there was any uncertainty on Madjozi’s part, the conversation clarifying all of this should’ve happened on a professional level before stoking fires with Burna Boy, especially after the xenophobic tensions that had risen again with Burna at the centre late last year.
As an artist who took to social media decrying the generalisations that led to the uproar, we’re hoping that her statements are rock-solid as many South Africans use this as an opportunity to resurrect a xenophobic rhetoric.