Since his introduction into the Nigerian market with his 2012 remix of Number One that featured Davido, he has connected with and featured Nigerian superstars like Tiwa Savage, Teni Makanaki, Koffi Olomide, Rema, and most recently, Chike.
But it seems collaborations don’t cut it for him anymore. Despite being one of East Africa’s biggest, his agenda to match the vitality of Nigerian artists isn’t hidden, as he imitates looks and recreates hits for his Swahili audience.
Afrobeats is fun, but it isn’t the easiest genre to make. Many artists from diverse backgrounds like Shatta Wale, Russ, etc have made attempts to recreate Nigeria’s most popular contemporary music, but none have successfully hacked the formula. That’s because afrobeats is constantly evolving and not tailored to a specific style.
For Diamond Platnumz, he can’t beat Nigerians at their game, but neither can he join them, because he’s not a Nigerian. However, he’s still decided to mute his own sound and copy Nigerian songs, melody for melody, beat pattern for beat pattern, syllable for syllable, in his music. What might have first seemed like a tribute or appreciation for afrobeats songs has turned into borderline theft.
Exhibit A is his 2019 single, Baba Lao, a brazen remake of Naira Marley’s Soapy.
Just listen to the instrumental, and you’d think Diamond Platnumz took his version from Rexxie’s harddrive.
This copy and paste of Wizkid’s Joro was released in 2019. From the rhythm to the music video vixen to the song title, Diamond was trying to give Wizkid a run for his money. As if that wasn’t enough, he tried again on Loyal (exhibit C), a recreation of Wizkid’s Essence.
Exhibit D is his feature on Yataniua, owned by his fellow Tanzanian artist, Mboso. Diamond copied Asake’s Peace Be Unto You, complete with choral backup, but in Swahili.
On July 14, Jux, a singer from Tanzania, featured Diamond Platnumz on a song titled Enjoy, where he didn’t spare Spyro’s Who Is Your Guy.
Not to exert exceptionalism in afrobeats, or to gatekeep the music, but it’s hard to see Pan-Africanism in Diamond’s actions. Music is a product of culture. Cultures are subject to evolution. But originality is out the window when appropriation begins to take the full reins.