Earlier this month, “Omae Wa Mou,” a cheerful instrumental built around an obscure sample of Japanese bossa nova, reached Number One on the Spotify viral chart thanks to a meme that spawned a TikTok dance craze.
But Deadman 死人, the 18-year-old producer behind the track, was barely able to celebrate: The day he topped the chart, he received a notice for copyright infringement from his distributor, RouteNote. “Omae Wa Mou” was pulled from Spotify shortly afterwards.
In a quick turnaround, the instrumental returned to the top of the viral chart 10 days later. “It was all a misunderstanding,” says the rapper Lil Boom, whose song “Already Dead” used the same sample as “Omae Wa Mou” — and enjoyed a similar streaming bump.
The problem stemmed from the content identification systems that distribution services use to prevent copyright infringement. The first ten seconds of “Omae Wa Mou” are basically identical to the sample source, a track from a Japanese album titled Toho Bossa Nova 2. (After the intro, Deadman’s drum programming kicks in to differentiate the two tracks.) So as “Omae Wa Mou” became popular, the content ID system started to confuse the two songs. “It was leading to takedowns of the original,” Lil Boom says.
Shibayan Records, the label which owns the rights to the sample source, tells Rolling Stone in an email that it “allow[s] all remixes and sampling.” But “because there was a problem that [the] YouTube content ID was not used correctly, we contacted RouteNote,” the label-head continues. “I was not asking for deletion, so there may have been a mistake on the RouteNote side.” When RouteNote got Shibayan’s complaint, “they just took [‘Omae Wa Mou’] down,” Lil Boom says.
Some Twitter DM diplomacy resolved the issue — and Deadman also moved “Omae Wa Mou” on to a different distribution service. United Masters, an artist services platform founded by music industry veteran Steve Stoute with funding from Google’s parent company Alphabet, signed a deal for both “Omae Wa Mou” and “Already Dead.” Deadman and Lil Boom each got a $5,000 advance, and United Masters promises to keep promoting the track on streaming platforms.
“We ain’t rich now or nothing,” Lil Boom says. “But we’re makin’ a little bit.” Deadman purchased a new laptop.
Both “Omae Wa Mou” and “Already Dead” continue to inspire user-generated content. Lil Boom sorts the clips into three different categories: “There’s the parrot video subgenre, just 50 parrots in a room bopping to the beat, the meme subgenre, and the dance subgenre.”
“Every day is something new with this song,” Lil Boom adds. “I was thinking, ‘is this song over?’ Then Ninja [a wildly popular gamer] just posted a video listening to it. Ok — I guess not.”