A legal brouhaha is bubbling away in Australia’s hip-hop community, in a copyright dispute involving several standout acts in the genre and a fast-rising music company.

Kuda Beats, a music producer with more than three years’ experience, accuses Biordi Music, the Western Sydney-based label, of procuring a beat for one of its artists by using a “harsh negotiation method” which included paying a “very small fee” without authority.

The row traces back to a sample of beats, which Kuda Beats distributed to select sources in the industry.

“As upcoming producers, we often send beat packs,” reads a statement from Kuda (real name Brendan Kapambwe), seen by TIO. “Most of the time, we don’t get a response. However in this case, within a matter of two weeks a beat of mine had caught the ears of Nasa Nova and OneFour.”

The beat which grabbed the attention was a co-production with Nathaniel Tupou called “discord drill,” part of a pack entitled “abra type drill loops”.

Before allowing a full legal process, Kuda Beats claims, Biordi Music moved quickly to secure a beat by using PAY ID without approval. “They then proceeded to release the song without my and my co-producer’s permission,” the statement continues.

Lowkee and Youngn Lipz

The disputed beat now appears in ‘Hide & Seek’ by Nasa Nova, which Kuda Beats and his team at Prolific Music Management have requested be removed from Spotify.

Matters took a legal turn when, on Feb. 17, lawyers for Kuda Beats issued a copyright infringement notice to Biordi Music’s Tom Biordi.

In the paperwork, drafted by Sanicki Lawyers and seen by TIO, Kuda requests a 50% share in copyright of the underlying musical work of ‘Hide & Seek’ — which is to be split 25% to the producer and 25% to Tupou as co-producer.

Also, Kuda and his legals request the sum of A$5,000 as a production fee for the use of the beat, an amount said to be split 50/50 between the producer and Nathanial, plus A$500 towards legal costs.

The legal instruction requests a response no later than March 3, with the warning that failure to do so would trigger take-down notices issued to digital platforms to remove ‘Hide & Seek’ and that APRA would be notified of the dispute.

Legal reps for Kuda say Biordi had offered the producer $500 for use of the beat in the Nasa Nova track and nothing in relation to publishing.

“While Brendan doesn’t deny he initially agreed to the $500 amount on this call, he had not had the opportunity to properly consider this offer or discuss it with his manager, and he felt pressured in the moment to agree,” the letter reads.

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When that offer was pitched, Kuda was in discussions with OneFour about the beat, the papers continue. Brendan’s manager Khaled Abdulwahab of Alt Music Group is said to have entered the picture to try “reach mutually agreeable terms” on the use of the beat, however “terms have not been reached” and “no legally binding agreement” is in place for its use.

The music producer and his support team have pledged to continue to issue take-down notices with other platforms until “we settle on a resolution that seeks to compensate all parties appropriately,” the statement reads.

Currently, ‘Hide & Seek’ is available to stream on YouTube and Apple Music.

TIO reached out to Biordi Music for comment on the matter.

Launched in 2019 by Biordi (aka Lowkee), Biordi is one of the fastest-growing businesses in Australian hip-hop, R&B and rap.

Currently, its roster includes R&B star Youngn Lipz, and emerging acts Billymaree, Bally Boy, Pistol Pete & Enzo, Ay Huncho, Masi Rooc and Nasa Nova, with combined streams topping 200 million.

In late April, Biordi Music announced a global partnership with Virgin Music Label and Artist Services Australia and Youngn Lipz won most performed hip-hop /rap work at the 2021 APRA Awards for his breakout, platinum-accredited single ‘Misunderstood’, besting ONEFOUR, Day1, No Money Experience and Hilltop Hoods.