Theophilus London Samples Cameroonian Legend Francis Bebey On His New Album and People Have Questions
Bebey's family says they never got payment.
Trinidadian-born American rapper Theophilus London released his third studio album, Bebey, back in January of this year. A week ago, many viewers of Season 3 of Netflix crime-thriller Ozark, would discover the project's title track, "Bebey," as it played during an episode.
Criticism on Twitter followed as the artist was accused of allegedly having plagiarized Cameroonian writer and composer Francis Bebey's song "Lily," from the album Si Les Gaulois Avaient Su.
London says he's paid 50% to the owners of Francis Bebey's music rights. Bebey's family claims to not have received a dime. It's not clear who's in the wrong here.
Cameroonian news and media website Les Bon As reports that Patrick Bebey, one of Francis Bebey's sons, said: "Mr. London and his producers didn't see fit to contact us until a few days before the album was released. No agreement has had time to be concluded. They have the nerve to use the name BEBEY and make it into a kind of brand (which would be theirs). It's rude… They used it on merchandising items! … Anyway, the matter is in the hands of a lawyer. "
Theophilus London has tweeted, "his label agreed to do business before we put it out. There are contracts signed."
"Lily" had been a cover of an anti-racist song released by french singer Pierre Perret in 1977. Francis Bebey's version tells the story of a migrant who must overcome racism.
London has been open about wanting to pay homage to Francis Bebey. It's noticeable from the title and cover art of Bebey, to other songs like "Marchin" and "Give You," which also mirror the Cameroonian's compositions. In addition to Francis Bebey, London also samples Nigeria's Lijadu Sister's 1974 song "Come on Home" on his song "Pretty" and Steve Monite's Afro-boogie song from 1984 "Only You."
We reached out to Theophilus London for comment and haven't received a response. Bebey is released on London's new label, My Bebey Records.
Theophilus London - Bebey (Lyric Video) www.youtube.com
Francis Bebey - Lily www.youtube.com