Kwesta has called out BMW South Africa for blatantly using his song without his permission.
Kwesta has called out BMW South Africa for blatantly using his song without his permission and not crediting him. In a new advert promoting the new limited edition 330iS, BMW South Africa tapped into the BMW 3 Series’ heritage in South Africa by using Kwesta’s mega hit “Spirit”. According to the artist, he wasn’t contacted about the use of his song. The hip-hop super star took to Twitter to slam the German automobile manufacturer for their ad.
Kwesta released the Wale-assisted song in 2017, and it instantly became a hit in South Africa. Currently sitting at 6.5 million views on YouTube and close to 2 million streams on Spotify, “Spirit” is one of the biggest South African hip-hop songs of all time. The song celebrates township living especially for boys who grew up idolising older men and the cars they drove.
The second generation of the BMW compact sedan, the 325iS (E30) popularly known as a Gusheshe, has a cultural significance dating back to a golden era in SA townships (especially Soweto) post-apartheid. A time when, kwaito, a homebred music genre, was booming and BMW models (especially the Gusheshe which was produced between 1982 and 1994) featured in the music videos of the time, a trend which continues to this day. “Spirit” references kwaito and samples the song “These Tears” by the house music duo Spiritchaser.
For their ad, BMW remade “Spirit” using the same sample and similar drum pattern (needless to say the song isn’t that great) and also lifted the song’s music video which portrays township life. The “Spirit” music video captures quintessential Soweto activities, with BMW 325is spinning and also pays homage to the successful “grootman”, a term given to older men society looks up to.
The music video was not only a hit because it featured Wale in Soweto, but because it organically depicted the childhood story of every Sowetan if not every South African.
The scandal has South Africa riled up because BMW has cultural significance, and their failure to acknowledge Kwesta’s song is just disappointing. When brands get it wrong, South Africans, especially on Twitter, always call them to order. Recently, the liquor brand Savanna was called out for using “syavana”, a term popularised by popular comedian Farieda Metsileng (@pharoahfi) and neither crediting nor inviting her to appear on the ad. After complaints on Twitter, the brand released another ad in which Metsileng appears. BMW has yet to respond to Kwesta or release a public apology.
Watch the BMW advert and “Spirit” music video video below and judge for yourself.
Kwesta – Spirit ft. Walewww.youtube.com