We reported it here yesterday that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, directed popular Nigerian musician, Douglas Jack-Agu a.k.a Runtown to desist from performing at any event or any form of recording for the time being unless with the approval of his record label, Ericmany Limited who presently holds the copyright to all his music.
Eric Manny Records, owned by billionaire businessman, Okwudili Umenyiora, got a court injunction seeking to stop Runtown from performing as an artiste, amongst other things, pending the determination of the suit because Runtown signs up, concludes and attends musical shows without the knowledge of the label.
As the war between the artiste and his record label continues, Pulse NG reached out to Runtown for an interview about the situation, and the singer bared his heart, sharing a tale of bullying, threats to life, mental torture, and extortion.
Below are excerpts from the chat;
I signed with Eric Many in May 2014, the first one is renewable upon 48 months, and the second one is renewable upon 60 months. We started working. Before EricMany I already did the ‘Gallardo’ video on my own, I paid N4.5 million for the video, exclusive of the money I used to push the song. You all know much it takes to push a song in Africa. I also did ‘Successful’, on my own.
The first video we did together was ‘Domot’, I noticed that when money started coming in from shows, I was having a lot bookings, and I noticed that the label started taking all the money. The contract stated that I get my percentage which is 35%, until when we recoup like half of what we invest in the career, then we will renegotiate the contract. I accepted and said let’s go ahead.
Money Problems and DJ Khaled
We started running, we went for shows and everything, and when I requested for my 35%, problem. I never got any 35% on it. They would always say, ‘We are pushing, we need to put more stuff (money) to push. The thing went on until 2015, when I was working on my album. I needed to do some collaborations, like the one I did with DJ Khaled. I was in the states and out of my money, I spent between $40,000 and $50,000, and that’s just the ones I can account for. I spent more than that on the collabo.
I was meant to do the video the next day in New York, I was waiting for Khaled. When they got to New York, I got a call from the label saying that I need to leave New York immediately. I couldn’t even understand what was wrong with what I did. I expected them to tell me “Well done, I saw what you did with DJ Khaled. It turned a problem, and they said I need to fly to South Africa for a video shoot.
In 2014, I went to London, and the label started calling me and saying that ‘Why didn’t I tell anyone before going to London?’ I didn’t go to London for shows or anything, I went there for vacation. When I got back, I went to Mr Dilly’s house, and he started ranting, and asking ‘Why did I travel?’ I told him that it’s just like travelling to Enugu to see my mum, that it’s just London, just like anywhere, that the contract does not state that I cannot have personal travels.
The next thing, He (Dilly) pulled out a gun, and threatened me, and said he was going to f***k me up. I felt scared and confused. I didn’t go to London to do a show and they found out. I went there for my vacation. So the threats kept going on.
No Nicki Minaj
When I was about to drop the video, he called me out of the blues, that he was going to get Nicki Minaj on the album. I accepted, being that a Nicki Minaj will be good on the album. When we were in the US, he kept on calling and asking if we can get across to Minaj. He couldn’t come to the US himself because he is banned by the US Government to return to the country. He has fraud issues.
He kept on calling about the Nicki Minaj people that he is ready to play. Then he brought a contract extension for another two years stating that if he pays for the Nicki Minaj deal, then he will need a 2-year extension to recoup his investment. I wasn’t around then, so the management handed the contract to a guy we worked with, and dropped it there. Neither I nor my manager, Aneto-Okeke Bugwu, were around. He called me on the phone threatening me that if I don’t extend the contract, he will kill me, and bury my career, and that he isn’t going to release my album.
The Last Straw
Fast forward to 2016, I had a show with a brewery brand, where they paid N5 million. I had been complaining about not receiving my percentage. I had a show with the breweries, I also had a show in Trinidad and Tobago in February. I needed the money. When we got to Trinidad, I asked him for my percentage. All those shows, I funded the logistics. All through our deal, I have been funding my travel and show logistics. I told him that this is 2016 that I can no longer be working without being paid my percentage.
Before I went on the trip, we had an agreement that we were going to do the DJ Khaled music video. Due to Khaled’s pop relevance via Snapchat and his new deal with Roc Nation, his price had gone up, and they were requesting for more money. Dilly agreed that we were going to do it. When we got to Trinidad, I didn’t get my percentage money, and we flew to Miami to meet DJ Khaled. I even reached out to someone that works with Rick Ross, and they called Khaled who on loudspeaker confirmed that he was ready for the next Tuesday. We called the label, and informed them, and Dilly says that there is no money, that we should leave.
I was the one that sponsored the audio, that was contained on the album, and the same album that was selling, I was not receiving any money from the sales. I then told him that ‘If you won’t give me my percentage off everything that I was making…If he had been giving me my 35%, things like the Khaled video, I wouldn’t have bothered him. I would have funded it myself. I told him “you won’t do what the label is meant to do, and you won’t give me my percentage, what do you want me to do?’
We didn’t do the video anymore, and we returned from Miami, that was when I now sent the termination of the contract. I had already told him orally. I also sent him an email asking for my 35% on every deal we have had.
That was when we began to go back and forth, and he began to threaten me. He also said that two of his watches are worth more than that contract, that he doesn’t need the money. That he will just bury my career, and that I should be wise. He likened my case to the Late Dagrin, he said I shouldn’t allow his counterparts take over. I have email proof of everything.
When he saw that there was no way we could go forward if he didn’t give me my percentage, he then agreed to hand it over. We were going to do the ‘Lagos to Kampala’ video, I heard that there were two payments made for a show at N3.5 million, and another from digital sales for 2.7 million. I asked him for my percentage, and story entered again. That was when I got fed up with everything. I got back after the video shoot.
When I got back to Nigeria, he was trying to get everything, so a prom event payed in Port Harcourt and he gave me my percentage. There was also another show in London where he paid, and another show with a beverage brand. I only got my percentage thrice in the past two years, and that was because I used a third party to book the show and received payment. I used my manager to receive the money and split it based on the agreement. He began to make claims that my manager stole his money. If they had paid him directly, I wouldn’t have gotten my cut.
Then I stopped talking to him, and he tried to get people to get me to talk to him. I told him that we should keep it on a business level, and that we should stick to the contract, and that we shouldn’t be friends. He still kept up threatening me. He then filed for an injunction, and then we also had the beverage and the prom show. I have a US tour in June, and he wrote the organizer requesting for all the money to be paid to him.
He then filed an injunction, and in it, he claims that he knows nothing about the US shows. When we had issues, and I left the house (the record label provided), he sent me a long email stating that this is the beginning of my downfall, and if I don’t talk to him, he is going to deal with me.
I never reacted violently to all his threats. Even when he told us to come to his house for a meeting, I told him no because I was scared. Because he had pulled a gun to my face in his house before. He told me stories of how killed people in prison, and that anyone that f*** with him, that he will kill the person. Of course I won’t go to that kind of person’s house. What if I go there and anything happens to me?
I said I won’t go there, that we have to come to the office the label has been borrowing in Lekki Phase 1 (Lagos). We agreed to come to the office to do the meeting. Then he said that it was disrespectful, that he was not going to come to the office and sit with those small boys. When he filed the injunction, that’s when I brought in my lawyer.
I want to terminate the contract, because they have been breaching it all these times, and I don’t want to go on with it again.