A music industry insider has weighed in on the much-contested version of events surrounding US popstar Jason Derulo's use of an Auckland teen's music, insisting the singer "went rogue" and didn't compensate the high school student.
The Kiwi in question is a 17-year-old producer who makes music under the name Jawsh 685. His track 'Laxed (Siren Beat)' blew up on TikTok, becoming one of the social media platform's biggest songs, racking up tens of millions of views.
When Derulo lifted the song for a new track he teased called 'Savage Love', he was inundated with backlash for not properly crediting Jawsh 685, who is also known as Joshua Styla.
In response to the outrage from Jawsh 685's fans, Derulo tagged the producer on social media in a post saying the teen "killed the beat".
While the jury was still out on whether or not Jawsh 685 had been paid for his track, the producer posted an Instagram Story implying someone had edited the description of his original YouTube clip to make the song appear as thought it was free to use.
Following that revelation, it was announced Jawsh 685 had signed a record deal with Columbia, ensuring he'd be paid for his original music on all platforms going forward.
But according to US entertainment industry bible Variety, a 'source close to the situation' claims that deal was still in progress when Derulo shared his unofficial version of the song, having not waited for "sign-off" from the creator.
"Jason wanted the beat for a record - he wanted the song to be a Jason Derulo song with Jawsh as a producer. But Jawsh should make decisions of what he wants to do with it, not be bullied by a bigger artist into putting it out," the source reportedly told Variety.
The incident is said to have struck a particular chord with Polynesian music communities throughout the world, with many incensed commenters highlighting the struggles aspiring Polynesian entertainers face trying to make it in the mainstream.
"Just in time for Pacific Islander history month, Jason Derulo honoured the Polynesian community by completely stealing an entire beat from a teenage Polynesian artist," one TikTok user said.
The exact legality of Derulo's alleged actions remains murky, with Variety pointing out that permission is not needed to use a track for a TikTok video, so long as it's properly credited. Claiming the beat as one's own, however, is more problematic.
"This is about giving credit where it's due," the source told Variety.
"Here's a new, young artist having an explosive moment and cultural success with the work he created. He's been part of bringing a taste of New Zealand and the Polynesian siren sound to people all across the globe.
"Jason should either apologise or say this piece of amazing music was made by this artist."
Columbia Records has not yet made an official statement on the situation, and Jawsh 685 himself has remained mostly quiet on the subject since suggesting someone had hacked his YouTube description.
Variety reports that as of yet, no agreement regarding compensation has been reached, although the "parties are in touch".
Derulo has not officially released the track, but his version of the viral song remains up on his TikTok page.