In September 2014, a song titled ‘Woju’ an emerging singer, Kiss Daniel, was released online, and instantly, it began to generate rave reviews. The singer, Kiss Daniel, was previously unknown, but his star was evident. Possessing a great vocal delivery, and the looks to match pop music’s physical demands, the record grew. And by December 2017, it was everywhere in Nigeria.
“All Thanks to God almighty, the activation team, big shout out to the Emperor Geezy,” the singer told NL in an interview in January 2015. as part of the press tour to promote the single. “Please note and quote, an artiste is as good as his entire team , it doesn’t just stop at just content making plugins is very important , Brand building , positioning and marketing the song and the content.”
In another interview with Acada, the singer explained the role of Emperor Geezy in ensuring that the record a success.
“We were optimistic when I recorded it but Emperor Geezy my CEO knew the song will ‘blow’,” Kiss said. “He kept saying this is the Jam. He’s always asking DJ Coublon to add this, remove this, giving technical directions on the song. Fiokee played the guitar. For me, I recorded the song on Technical Directions from Emperor Geezy who has good ears for sound. I was optimistic, that’s what I would say because of Geezy’s interest in the sound.”
‘Woju’ became the first step towards profitability for the artist, who signed a deal with G-Worldwide to release 5 albums in 7 years. Kiss Daniel was signed in 2013 on recommendation by his label mate, Sugarboy. According to investigations, the singer was signed to a 360 deal in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Kiss Daniel had just finished from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), in 2013, with a degree in Water Resources Management and Agrometeorology (Water Engineering). While at FUNAAB, he decided to pursue music as a career alongside his studies. According to sources who spoke with Pulse, G-Worldwide founder and CEO, Festus Ehimare popularly known as Emperor Geezy, drove from Lagos to the singer’s home in Abeokuta, where a meeting was held with his parents, who gave their consent to his signing career.
“Everyone was excited. They all knew Kiss Daniel had talent, and even in school we knew he was going to be a star,” an old friend of the singer told Pulse.
According to investigations by Pulse, Kiss Daniel was initially signed to a deal worth 5 albums and 7 years. But between 2013 and 2017, that deal had been revised three times. As the singer grew, and his brand worth increased, he demanded for the deal to be updated with more favourable terms.
Contracts and Problems with G-Worldwide
Kiss Daniel’s problems with G-Worldwide started with the success of ‘Woju’. Investigations reveal that after the song began to gain traction early 2015, the singer demanded for an update on his contract. A close source to the singer and his label revealed that Kiss Daniel approached the management of Emperor Geezy for revised contract to reflect his growth in the music industry.
After negotiations between the legal reps of both parties, his terms were updated starting from the first quarter of 2015.
In the initial deal, the singer was entitled to 30% of all the net profits from his performance fees. The record label was investing heavily at this point to ensure his newfound momentum was sustained. The label provided him with a manager, who until his announcement to depart the firm, was named Louiza Williams. Prior to her employment with G-Worldwide, she had found success managing the Port Harcourt star, Waconzy and also another rising artist, JaneyKrest.
Remember in August 2015, news broke that Kiss Daniel despite all the hits, had only collected a paltry salary of N50,000 monthly. The record label denied the reports. This was not true. According to results of investigations by Pulse, at no point was Kiss Daniel given that sum monthly. Everything was guided by the rules of the legal contract.
The new deal signed in 2015 granted him 40% of all performance profits, the label and management get 60% for reinvestment and management. Kiss was also to receive 30% of all non-performance income.
The first revised contract which kicked off in the second quarter of 2015, and it reduced his expected number of albums from five to four. Kiss Daniel under the new deal was required to record, produce and submit four albums to G-Worldwide. In 2016, the deal was updated, which increased his non-performance benefits to 40% and maintained the 40% performance benefits.
At the moment, he has submitted two albums. His first album “New Era” was released in 2016. Originally scheduled to be released on 1 May 2016, the album was however released on May 14, 2016 through G-Worldwide Entertainment. The album contains hit singles ‘Woju’, ‘Laye’, ‘Good time’ and ‘Mama’.
The bulk of the second album tentatively titled “Evolution”, has been recorded, and a 2018 release date has been planned.
Since his breakout single, Kiss Daniel has only collaborated with Davido and Tiwa Savage on the remix of ‘Woju’, which was released in February 2015. The single extended the life of the record, and further expanded Kiss Daniel’s reach in the music industry. Since then, there has been no external collaborations between the singer and external artists. Although in that time, he has repeatedly collaborated with label-mate, Sugarboy.
There has been a huge public outcry over this issue. General opinion states that the label has prevented Kiss Daniel from collaborating with his colleagues, thereby limiting his rise and success in the Nigerian music industry.
In a 2016 interview with Notjustok he said, “I’m signed to a record label and the management for now only allows me to collaborate with in-house artistes DJ Shabsy and Sugarboy. Maybe later I’ll do songs with other artistes but for now it’s out of it.”
The public outcry and criticism got to G-Worldwide, prompting Emperor Geezy to release a statement which explained it.
“We believe as a company that our artists can work hard enough to put themselves in the spotlight without having to leverage on features and collaborations,” Geezy said.
“We understand that this is a risky move but remain convinced that if this can be achieved, we will be able to take credit for having set the pace in the Nigerian music industry. Granted that collaborations in the industry bring colour and variety to the end product, but our approach at this time is to grow stronger and richer in value as a unit.”
Kiss Daniel was never legally bound to not do collaborations. Investigations reveal that the singer was never expressly banned from collaborating. Instead, as part of the company’s code of conduct, he was to get approval from the firm with prospective collaboration opportunities.
According to a former employee who requested that his name be excluded from this story, the plan for the first album was to explore and deploy Kiss Daniel’s solo records. For the second album, “Evolution”, the planned strategy was to re-introduce Kiss Daniel with the collaborations.
Notable names for the second project of 16 songs include Phyno, Olamide, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Simi, and more. Plans are already in motion for the remix of ‘Sofa’ to have Jamaican star, Kranium on it. Already, the records with Phyno and Olamide have already concluded, with the final versions ready for release.
Our source further said Kiss Daniel is aware of the plans and expressly consented to all of it. The tentative album tracklist has these collaborations as part of it.
After he declared his exit, Kiss Daniel teased a forthcoming collaboration with Wizkid.
Industry Support and Sugarboy
Kiss Daniel does not support the ‘industry’. That’s the general sentiment by industry insiders who have significant events to back up their claim. Apart from his lack of collaboration opportunities, there have been other instances where the singer has failed to support industry colleagues. Artists show support to their peers by appearing at their events and rendering services for free. That’s why huge events such as AY Live would have his ‘friends’ such as Timaya and Phyno performing at no cost. It’s a support structure that fosters goodwill and collaboration.
Kiss Daniel has not had a number of this, and generally people believe it is due to label restrictions. In February 2017, Kiss Daniel was meant to perform at comedian and OAP Ushbebe’s event, Chronicles of Ushebebe’. Kiss gave his word, his manager appeared, but somehow, no one saw him, neither did he perform.
“He was already on the list, and we had announced him, But no for some reason, he refused to perform,” a member of the organizing team told Pulse.
Another event was the 2016 Soundcity MVP awards which held at Eko Hotels & Suits. According to a member of the event crew the singer was offered a hotel room as part of his logistics, for a performance at the event but he never showed up.
“He kept saying he was coming, but he never showed up. His room was there, he was a part of the line up, but he never showed,” our source said. “We assumed that the label told him not to do it.”
A popular comedian who has had an encounter with Kiss Daniel told Pulse that it isn’t the label. According to the comedian who asked not to be named, it is Kiss Daniel who has no business with supporting the industry.
“It’s him. I don’t think it is the label. I have had my experience one-on-one with him, and it’s not something I want to talk about,” he said.
While at G-Worldwide, Kiss Daniel collaborated with Sugarboy, a singer and producer who was instrumental in getting him a record deal with the label.
“I came to Lagos from Abeokuta in Palm Slippers and one T-shirt like that,” Kiss Daniel recollects to VibeNG, describing the day he met Emperor Geezy. “I can still remember my face. I was looking like a thief,” he adds.
Geezy needed further proof that Kiss wasn’t just a flash in the pan so he instantly drove him to a studio to test some of his abilities. Sugarboy, a singer, songwriter and producer who had already gained some level of public attention, was present at the studio that fateful day, and he put together the beat that served as a worksheet for Kiss Daniel’s vocal test. Simply put, he auditioned Kiss Daniel.
Sugarboy and Kiss Daniel collaborated twice on the “New Era” and also on Sugarboy’s “Believe” album. Sources close to the pair say while Sugarboy has showed constant support to Kiss Daniel, it hasn’t been replicated. They cited the recording of Kiss Daniel’s debut album.
“Sugarboy did a lot of work to make sure that album was a success. He recorded Kiss himself on many records, did back-up on many songs, and also sat with Zeeno Foster during the mixing. But Kiss Daniel took forever to submit his verses for Sugarboy’s projects,” one source said.
A case which was narrated to Pulse and corroborated by a former employee of the label happened during the shoot for Sugarboy’s ‘Kilamity’ video. Kiss Daniel kept Sugarboy waiting for many hours before he agreed to leave his house and make himself available for the shoot.
“It felt like he was being begged to help someone that has always been there for him.” our source said.
In 2015, the singer had moved out of the record label’s official residence, to his personal space. Since then, he had provided hints about his exit. He once tweeted about Flyboi Inc in 2016, but according to sources, when queried by the he explained it to G-Worldwide as a charity initiative.
On November 13, 2017, Pulse exclusively revealed that Kiss Daniel had left G-Worldwide Entertainment to set up his own label. Flyboi Inc., an independent record label under which he will record and release his music.
“This is an important move for me and I sincerely want to thank the fans who have always been there for me and also the media for their constant support,” the singer told Pulse
According to a statement by his lawyers, Kiss Daniel formally terminated his contract with G-Worldwide Entertainment on October 31, via a letter. “The termination was done in compliance with the provisions of the recording contract between the parties,” it read. Kiss Daniel had earlier filed a lawsuit against the label at the Lagos State High Court, which the label has acknowledged and filed for its defence and objection.
This isn’t the first time Kiss Daniel has attempted to leave the label since 2015 after the success of ‘Woju’. The singer has attempted to exit the label on multiple occasions, employing three different law firms to represent him. The current firm, L & A Legal Consultants have history with these cases, after being involved in some of the high profile cases between musicians and record labels.
They are the masterminds of the exit. And the grounds upon which it was filed was ‘finances’. Kiss Daniel and G-Worldwide have had issues with certain points of the finances. And the singer is exploiting a legal loophole in pushing for a termination of the record deal. It’s a contestable ground, which in all honesty, can swing either way.
According to his lawyers who spoke to Africa Music Law, Kiss Daniel’s termination is due to problems with the accounting.
Read the statement by his lawyers below.
“Our claim in our suit is basically for an Order of Mandatory Injunction compelling the Defendant and its directors to provide the Kiss Daniel or his representatives with unrestricted access to inspect the books and records of his record label in respect of all financial transactions made pursuant to the Record Contract Agreement between the two parties.
This claim is based on clause 7 of the Recording Contract between the parties, which imposes an obligation on the Label to wit:
“Company shall maintain proper accounting books and or records at its principal office, in relation to revenue generated, or expenditure expended in the course of the performance of this Agreement. Such books and or records shall include, but shall not be limited to, any documents or records which evidence the receipt and or disbursements of royalties and other monies generated in the course of the performance of the Agreement.
The Artist shall, at any time during the term of this Agreement and upon prior written notice to Company, Artist or his/her designated representative shall gain unrestricted access to inspect the books and records of the Company relating to this Agreement and shall be entitled to make copies thereof.”
This is why we feel it is not only legally wrong but a bit unethical for them to go behind us to apply for an ex-parte injunction when we are already before another judge on a similar matter and they have entered (an) appearance and filed their pleadings. There was also no urgency. We wrote to them to terminate the contract on the 30 of October 2017 and they attempted to procure an ex-parte injunction on 30 of November 2017. A month after. Meanwhile, the artist has been performing all over Nigeria to their knowledge in those 30 days. He has been posting his new activities online. Yet, they did not do anything until almost a month after.
We actually tried to discuss and resolve this issue with the label but they refused all our entreaties. Kiss Daniel’s main grouse was lack of accountability and transparency in the way they manage the revenue. Find below the sequence of event to enable you (to) understand our viewpoint.
Based on clause 7 above, we wrote to them on the 18 of July 2017 giving them notice of Kiss Daniels’s intention (through a chartered Accountant) to inspect/audit the books and records kept by them in respect of the revenue generated/expenses made including royalties payable.
“This is to inform you that in accordance with the Recording Contract between the parties, our client wishes to send his Accountants (WYZE Associates) to inspect/audit his accounts with your client.
Kindly confirm your convenient date from next week when the Accountants can come in for the inspection/audit.”
They failed/refused to respond to the above email and we had to send a reminder on the 24 of July and also called their solicitors. They finally responded on the 25 of July 2017 saying:
“I somehow missed your initial email. Apologies. I will discuss your request with my client and will revert with a response before CoB tomorrow.”
As usual, they failed to respond on the 26 of July 2017 as promised and we had to send another reminder by way of email and telephone call. It took them another one week before they responded on the 1 of August 2017 through their solicitor claiming that the audit cannot be done immediately because the G-Worldwide’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is about to get married and would also proceed on honeymoon immediately thereafter. This is what the lawyer sent to us:
“Regarding the date for the “audit”, can we agree on a date in late August or early September? An earlier date will not be ideal- Emperor Geezy is getting married on Saturday and will be unavailable for some time after the wedding (for obvious reasons).”
Of course, we were surprised by the above statement and could not fathom how and why the oncoming wedding of “Emperor Geezy”(CEO of the Record Label), who is not the accountant should affect the inspection of books of account or ground the life of our client to a halt. Based on the above, we responded as follows:
“It is our understanding that we are dealing with a company (G-World Entertainment Ltd) and not an individual. Therefore, the unavailability of Emperor Geezy would not affect the audit. Please note that the audit will only involve G World Accountants and our Accountants. Therefore, the presence of Emperor Geezy is not very important at this stage. In view of the above, we can schedule the audit to an earlier date. Kindly confirm when our Accountants can come for the audit within this week or next week.”
Unfortunately, they responded by creating a new excuse. This is what they sent to us the 4 of August 2017:
“While the company is happy to assist your client’s accountants with their audit request, unfortunately due to ongoing activities involving the relevant company’s personnel, the time proposed by you will not be convenient for the company (whose assistance you require to carry out the audit).
In the circumstance, we suggest that we should agree on a day in the last week of August for the audit exercise. We will wait for you to propose a specific date during the said period for the audit.”
It was clear to us at this point that they did not want us to inspect the books and will do everything to frustrate this legitimate demand, which is expressly provided for by the Contract between the parties. Based on the above and in order to avoid further delays/arguments, we conceded to the time frame insisted by them and wrote them on the 7 of August 2017 informing them that we have agreed to the end of the month::
“Our accountants will be available on 28th and 29th August 2017 for the audit. Kindly confirm that the dates. Also confirm your client’s address.”
Again, they failed/refused to confirm the dates for the inspection or the venue as requested and after waiting for almost 3 weeks we were forced once again to send another reminder for confirmation of date and venue. They deliberately failed to respond until the 28 of August 2017, which is one of the dates fixed for the inspection and agreed to the 29 of August 2017 for the said inspection/audit. Thereby giving the Claimant less than 24 hours’ notice.
Unfortunately, when the inspection/audit finally held, our Accountant was denied unrestricted access to the “books/records” in clear breach of the unambiguous provisions of the Contract between the parties. We were surprised that they did not come to the venue of the inspection/audit with any physical books, receipts, invoices e.t.c. but only brought a mere laptop! And even refused to allow our Accountant to make a copy of the said “books/records” contrary to our rights under the Contract. We also discovered that their representative who brought the laptop is not an accountant and did not know anything about the transactions recorded in the laptop he could not answer any of the questions/queries posted to him by our account.
In light of the above failure to allow us inspect and make copies of the books of account as provided in clause 7 of the Record contract between the parties amongst other breaches, we gave them 14 days’ notice to remedy the breach as provided by Clause 16 of the Contract and when they failed to do so within the 14days, we proceeded to terminate the Contract as we were empowered to do under the contract.”
After the announcement of exit and declaration of independence by Kiss Daniel, G-Worldwide filed a case in against the infringement of their right in court.
The company has dragged him to court, accusing him of “taking steps to appoint a new manager, solicit for bookings, and has continued to negotiate and enter performance agreements in respect of the songs from the album New Era, and Evolution which is set to be released soon containing singles such as Yeba, For You, Senorita, Sofa and others, produced under the contract, including using the stage name ‘Kiss Daniel’ without the company’s prior consent and permission.”
A statement made available to Punch via G-Worldwide’s lawyers, Calmhill Partners, states that a Federal High Court in Lagos had on November 30, granted an order that all parties should maintain the status quo under the contract. The company further warned the general public against contracting any business with Kiss Daniel.
The statement read, “The import of the order being that the state under which the parties existed under the contract should be preserved until the court makes a determination of the motion on notice filed by the company. All and any dealings in respect of the upload, distribution, and or performance of any of the songs, as well as the use or exploitation of the name ‘Kiss Daniel’ can therefore only be entered or made with the prior written consent and permission of the company as provided under the contract.”
The court order signed by Hon. Justice Babs Kuewumi, partly reads, “It is hereby ordered as follows that in the interim both parties are ordered to maintain the status quo ante Bellum under the recording contract pending the hearing of the motion on notice.” The case was adjourned till January 9, 2018.
Meanwhile, the statement by Calmhill Partners, which was signed by Aso Kalu Etea, warned that anyone who conducted business with Kiss Daniel pending the determination of the suit risked being held in contempt of court.
Kiss Daniel’s lawyers denied the existence of a court order initially and speaking with Punch, Louiza Williams explained why.
She said, “It is not true that he is unaware of the court order. Court officials went to his house to serve him the documents but he avoided them. When he was told by his gateman that he had visitors, he said he was coming out to see them. But when he discovered they were from the court, he refused to come out, and rather sent someone to collect the papers on his behalf.
“Meanwhile, the court official had been specifically instructed to make sure the documents were received by Kiss Daniel himself. Kiss managed to dodge receiving the court papers; probably because he was afraid he would be arrested. They are trying to do damage control and cause confusion to divert attention from the real issue. How can the Federal High Court lie? I would just advise them to respond to the court suit, and on January 9, 2018, Kiss Daniel has to be in court for the hearing.”
Speaking further, she said, “He had been taking bookings from behind but because of the court orders that we made public, most of the clients are now panicking. They have been putting pressure on him to refund their monies. Many of them have also been calling us.”
Hinting on what would happen if Kiss ignored the court order and continued releasing songs and performing at shows, Williams said, “Even if he goes ahead to release an album or fails to maintain the status quo like the court ordered, we wouldn’t take laws into our hands. But that would be against the court order and you know what that means. We would only need to provide a proof that he indeed disobeyed the court’s order.”
Speaking on what right G-Worldwide has to tell Kiss Daniel to stop using the name he is famously known as, Louiza said, “I cannot really speak on the origin of the name but what matters is the contract he signed. Personally, I don’t like reading artistes’ contracts because I believe it is between the individual, their lawyers and the record label. I don’t like to be privy to the contracts because I am not a biased person. Irrespective of the relationship between me and the artiste, once I notice that there is a breach of contract, I would speak out. However, I am sure that whatever the label is doing now is based on the contract that was signed between both parties. If he did not sign away the right to whatever name, then the label wouldn’t ask him to stop using it. Though I have been told he actually signed something to that effect.”
The original order was made public to the press, with the stamp of the judge Hon. Justice Babs Kuewumi.
Justice Babs Kuewumi who is in charge of the case is a veteran of contract disputes. He was part of the 2013 case between Brymo and Chocolate City.
Pulse reached out to Kiss Daniel;s reps for comments on this story. A representative of the singer declined to comment, stating that “it’s a legal case now. We cannot speak about G-Worldwide since the case is in court.”
Pulse also reached out to G-Worldwide for comments, but they declined to comment. We also contacted Kiss Daniel’s ex-manager, Louiza Williams, but she also declined to comment.
A rep for the company who did not consent to the use of his name in this story said: “All G-Worldwide wants is for Kiss Daniel to honour his contract. All of this drama is not necessary. He should stick to his contract.”
2018 will be the year of legal battles for Kiss Daniel. His story adds to the growing list of Nigerian artists who have tried to break their contract, hit the courts, and find an exit from a deal they willingly signed and benefited from.