By Orion Anakaris
On Saturday afternoon I checked my twitter feed and was greeted to the image above, showing payment details for the albums “Metaphorical Music”, “Modal Soul”, “Spiritual State”, and “A Son of The Sun”. The first 3 being instrumental jazz hop albums that were released (in physical format) on the Hydeout Productions label by Nujabes. The 4th album was by Jun’s close friend/collaborator Uyama Hiroto also on Hydeout. What stuck out the most, was the merchant email payments being directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. I instantly became curious as to why a label that has been known for releasing tributes to Jun were now on Bandcamp selling digital versions of his albums.
Several hearsay stories had been thrown around before his death regarding not wanting his albums released digitally due to quality differences in formats. Even with the increasing demand from several fans, the digital versions were not made available by Hydeout. So theres no doubt that anyone with rights to ownership over the music stands to make a fair bit of money from this demand. It was then quite a surprise to find out a user on reddit made a post stating that albums of his were also made available on outlets like Spotify and iTunes, only to disappear for some time.
Following the circulation of the photo, the falsified Bandcamp address: hydeoutjapan.bandcamp.com/ was taken down with swiftness. Digi Crates Management then conveniently stated “Not that all the little guys needed to know, but we just inked a deal w/ the new owners of Nujabes music.Official announcement in a few days”. This was strange as artist, Marcus D (of Bop Alloy) was able to reach out to Jun’s brother, Mao via email regarding the situation. In contrary to the statement, ownership of the music being sold dubiously still belonged to their estate. Mao had even gone as far as contacting Apple to get the albums removed off their store, with retrieval of an account merchant IP address proving unsuccessful.
By the next week, after several posts of anguish and condemnation on social media sites, their main facebook page had been deleted. My guess is that commentary on the labels actions started appearing in the tagged posts section. This then seemed to be followed by the long awaited announcement (on the personal label account) that they had formed a partnership with music licensing company One Peace Inc. I sensed something was off, so I asked for background information on the company. One Peace Inc. had a licensing agreement with Hydeout for the official tribute album “Modal Soul Classics II”. So somehow this agreement expanded into Digi Crates being able to sell the four albums in the top most photo? Prior to talks of an official announcement?
Digi Crates Records (“The Winners”) is a New York based music label/group founded by CEO/A&R Cory Atkins (Hus Kingpin). Through personal experiences ordering music and a number of searches carried out on forums, bad customer service practices had long been plaguing their name. Not to speak of multiple complaints about unpaid artist royalties. While the bad customer service is forgivable (many indie labels are understaffed) the prospects of someone using a dead artist to scam eager fans is something that should disturb anyone with morals.
Not only did Jun leave behind a mother, father and brother, he also has a daughter. I’m sure many people that may end up reading this are artists themselves, so ask yourself this. What would you want done If someone was leeching off your legacy after you had passed? Would you want the money from your album sales to go to your child so that they’re taken care of properly? or to a complete stranger that has no genuine ties to you or your art?
26/10/2014: It was previously speculated that the Facebook page had been deleted due to the outrage that ensued on the “Posts To Page” section. It has now been confirmed that former Digi Crates Producer, Fresh Sly deleted the facebook page after several attempts to email/message Mr. Atkins regarding unpaid royalties for four albums sold on iTunes and an artwork fee on behalf of a Graphic Artist that was not paid for her work (See image below).
According to the Artist, he recieved a small portion of the royalties owed (Had not been given a years worth of his royalties) and claims were made by DCR management that the label would be shut down, along with albums removed from all storefronts. No such thing happened, so Fresh Sly proceeded to use his Admin rights, and delete the page. Mr. Atkins is currently believed to be residing in the Los Angeles area where he’s moved the operation.
31/10/2014: Cory Atkins (Hus Kingpin) appeared on ughh forum to deny any wrongdoing in selling the “Metaphorical Music”, “Modal Soul”, “Spiritual State”, and “A Son of The Sun” albums. According to him they (Digi Crates Records) “have 4 distributors in Japan including ONEPEACE who owns Nujabes music”. Appeals for refunds have also not been fulfilled.
04/11/2014: Bandcamp Support have given full instructions on how to appeal for a refund If you purchased music off the fake hydeoutjapan.bandcamp.com/ account.
06/11/14: Nujabes’ close friend/collaborator, Fat Jon recently updated his own website to talk about albums from his own discography that were being sold dubiously (See Photo Below).