YouTube removed the official version of “Un Ratito” featuring Luis Fonsi and other Latin stars on Monday (Jan. 24) over claims from EDM act Sevenn that Brazilian superstar DJ Alok released the song without their authorization and had denied them producing credit.
Kevin Brauer, who performs as Sevenn, has also requested takedowns on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Tidal, his manager tells Billboard. And lawyers representing the act — which originally included Kevin’s brother Sean Brauer — are preparing to file a copyright lawsuit on Tuesday in Brazil claiming that Alok has denied Sevenn proper authorship of the song, which Kevin originally wrote as “Let’s Make Love (nanananana).”
“Un Ratito,” which Alok released on Jan. 14, had 2.9 million streams on Spotify as of Monday. A spokesperson for Spotify did not respond to an immediate request for comment. The song features Fonsi, Lunay, Lenny Tavárez and Brazilian singer Juliette.
The escalating controversy over “Un Ratito,” which had nearly 2 million views on YouTube before the takedown, comes after Kevin Brauer said in a Billboard story published Friday that he had produced the original version of the song back in 2017 (with Alok’s help) and had worked on at least five subsequent versions through mid-2018. Alok released the track without getting Brauer’s permission or having discussed publishing royalties, Brauer says. He is credited as one of 14 writers but not as a producer.
Neither Alok’s management nor his lawyer, Robson Cunha, responded to an email Billboard sent on Monday morning seeking comment about “Un Ratito.”
On Friday, Alok broke his silence and responded to some of the Brauers’ allegations. In videos on his Instagram Stories, Alok denied that Kevin Brauer’s original version of “Un Ratito,” on which he sings and plays lead guitar, was that similar to the released version. “We changed it a lot,” Alok said, adding that he had re-recorded the guitar and other parts Brauer had done with other musicians. “It’s very different now.”
Brauer fired back on Sevenn’s Instagram Stories on Saturday. “It’s a lie that you had other musicians re-record those parts,” he said. “That guitar is mine.”
Alok also denied Sevenn had produced some of the songs that the duo told Billboard they had, including “Fuego,” with Alok’s brother Bhaskar — “They never had their finger on [the] music,” Alok said — and “All I Want” with Brazilian DJ Liu featuring Stonefox, “which we did entirely alone.”
In addition, Alok rejected claims by Sean Brauer that he had developed Alok’s remix of the Mick Jagger song “Gotta Get a Grip,” saying that he had the project on his computer. “I can easily prove that I did it,” Alok said. (Sean Brauer has provided evidence to Billboard showing that he produced the track from start to finish; Alok offered, at one point, to pay Sevenn $10,000 for the master of the remix, along with “Love is a Temple,” written for a Budweiser ad, according to text messages he sent to the Brauers. They rejected the offer and Alok never made the payment.)
The Brazilian DJ also portrayed the work of the Brauers as only mastering, rather than song creation, and claimed in his videos that he had paid them for that work. “That’s a lie,” Kevin said Saturday on Instagram. “Show me one receipt where you paid us for a mix and master.”
Brauer acknowledged Saturday one cash payment from Alok — for about $1,000 — for his work on the music for a 2017 Samsung commercial, which he had previously revealed to Billboard. (Brauer also previously told Billboard that Alok had flown him to Las Vegas to work on the track.)
Alok, also in his videos, said he had “developed” the Tiësto-Sevenn collaboration “BOOM” with the Brauers and that his managers had suggested crediting only Tiësto and Sevenn “to give them more prominence.” (Sevenn told Billboard they released the track on their own initially before Alok could share it with other big DJs and possibly deny Sevenn credit.) As previously reported, the song is part of a lawsuit Alok filed in a São Paulo civil court earlier this month, which also claims Alok was denied credit and royalties for Sevenn’s remix of “BYOB,” along with “Tam Tam,” “Beautiful Tonight” and “It’s Always You.”
Billboard’s story last week detailed how Sean and Kevin Brauer, who were raised in Rio de Janeiro by their American mother in the religious sect Children of God, say they were denied credit and compensation for at least 14 songs they worked on for Alok since late 2015. Alok initially helped them with their career, in terms of getting them opportunities and partnerships, the Brauers say, “and we were happy to repay the favor, until we started realizing that he was profiting hugely off our work without offering anything substantial in return.”
Billboard analyzed Spotify data for 12 of the 14 tracks, calculating that if the Brauers had been compensated to reflect the contributions they say they made on these tracks, they would have earned $263,000 to date in publishing royalties and producer’s fees. That estimate would likely grow to more than $1.3 million when royalties at other digital services and radio are taken into account, as well as global sales.
The 14 tracks Billboard looked at did not include Alok’s biggest hit, “Hear Me Now” with Bruno Martini featuring Zeeba.
Alok told his 26 million Instagram followers on Friday that he didn’t harbor any ill will towards Sevenn for making their claims to Billboard. Instead, he said they were part of a campaign to discredit him being orchestrated by Marcos “Marquinhos” Araújo, Alok’s former manager, with whom he split with last April under acrimonious conditions. “I have always admired them, but unfortunately they are being very misguided,” Alok said. “They are being used as instruments to attack me.”
Araújo denies those assertions and notes that Alok and his legal team had “threatened” Sevenn’s career by refusing to release them from a 10-year contract with management agency Artist Factory without paying a 20 million reais ($3.6 million) fine, unless they agreed to a copyright waiver for all their work done for Alok.
“Alok, this is important,” Kevin said on Instagram. “When you talk about the importance of authors’ rights, why did you ask for our copyrights in exchange for our freedom [from the contract]?”