Stolen songs. Rampant suspicions. Secretly recorded phone calls. Welcome to the twisted world of twerk.
Last week, hip hop fans rejoiced when new song "Twerk It" by Pharrell Williams and Busta Rhymes appeared on websites. Local Miami rapper Monty $$ was furious, however. He already had a song called "Twerk It" with what he says are eerily similar features. "It's the same song, they just copied it and put it out," says Monty $$. "They are coming down to Miami and blatantly disrespecting me."
Does he have a case? Listen to the two songs and let us know what you think.
Williams, who lives in Miami and produced the new track for Busta Rhymes, could not be reached for comment.
Monty $$, meanwhile, says his song has been "stolen" by rich outsiders who don't know Miami or give anything back to it. "They come to Miami and disrespect the city by taking its music," he says.
The rapper, whose real name is Antonio Shelton, bounced between foster families in Liberty City, Carol City, and Richmond Heights as a kid. He became the first in his family to attend college when he enlisted at Full Sail University near Orlando to study sound engineering. That lead to a job mixing commercials for advertising giant Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
But Shelton's real passion was rapping, and last year he teamed up with producer Johnny Terror to cut a few singles. The best one was "Twerk It," an upbeat mix of snare drums and synthesizer.
Monty $$ says he shared "Twerk It" on the Facebook page of a friend who works for Pharrell, but the friend mysteriously deleted it. Then, just last week, Pharrell dropped his own song of the same name.
At first, the friend denied passing the song onto to Pharrell. But Monty $$ says he secretly recorded a conversation in which his friend admitted that one "Twerk It" was the template for the other.
But are the songs really that similar? Monty $$ admits that his is "track music," while Pharrell's relies heavily on Busta Rhymes's lyrics.
"Everything is the same," insists Monty $$. "The drum patterns are the same. And then there is the hook: 'Twerk it, twerk it, twerk it, twerk it.' When I put out my song, nobody was saying it the way I was saying it."
Pharrell and Busta Rhymes are "taking from someone who is trying to make it," Monty $$ says.
The rapper adds that he's not coming forward for money (although he says his mother still lives in Section 8 housing and "could use a Mother's Day present"), but respect.
"Every time I tweet Busta Rhymes he doesn't respond. He just doesn't want to talk about," Monty $$ says. "I'm not trying to create a beef with them I just wanted these guys to know how much it hurt me."
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He also wants the world to know that he twerked it first.
"It's hard for a guy like myself -- with no money or access to MTV -- to get credit," he says. "It's all about your name being attached to the song so people contact you. Everyone knows that Quincy Jones worked with Michael Jackson, that's why they want to work with him."
"Every day the life I live is a poor life," Monty $$ says. "Without that credit, I can't move forward."