It's Ghetto Ruff in the music industry

VETERAN hip-hop and R&B star Ishmael Morabe says he'd rather die than work with Ghetto Ruff boss Lance Stehr again.

This week, a fuming Morabe all but swore to never set foot at the stable again, saying he just wants his release papers from the company now known as Muthaland.

The can of worms was opened when Stehr this week told Sunday World that Morabe's hip-hop group Jozi is recording a single after a lengthy hiatus. "The single is in the works, and so is the group's reality show, Moving The City.

"Ish is still contracted to Muthaland Records and we are going to make that single big. An album is even in the pipeline after the single," Stehr said in complete contradiction to Morabe.

But Morabe, who left the stable late last year after nearly two decades, would have none of that. "I'm definitely not doing anything with Lance. I'd rather die!"

Stehr said that he was shocked by Morabe's attitude. "He is no longer a part of Jozi? Well this is news to me!"

Jozi, made up of Morabe and Lesley "Da Les" Mampe, is no stranger to controversy. Two other members, Luther "Crazy Lu" Cohen and Bongani Fassie, left the group after loud and public spats with fellow members and Stehr.

At the time of his departure, Fassie and two friends, Gift Magubane and Tessa Nxumalo, were arrested following allegations that they stole music equipment valued at R650000 in November 2009 from Ghetto Ruff. Fassie claimed Stehr, who was once his mother Brenda's manager, had in his possession musical equipment valued at R5-million that belonged to his mom. Stehr later dropped the charges.

This latest war of words between Stehr and Morabe follows months of a terse relationship after Morabe abruptly left the stable late last year; with Stehr allegedly finding out through the media after Morabe called a press conference.

Asked this week whether he was still contracted to Ghetto Ruff, aka Muthaland, Morabe said he'd been waiting for his release papers for months. "I've been waiting for Delphine [Stehr's wife and business partner] to send me the papers and sort all of this out and she hasn't," the musician said.

Stehr, on the other hand, was adamant. "The single is happening. Ishmael has to fulfil his contractual duties," he said before adding, "I won't stand in his way."

Disputing Stehr's claims that he's got Muthaland equipment he is recording on, Morabe said: "We had an agreement about that equipment that every Jozi gig I do, they would deduct a certain portion of it as a way of paying them for it."

Da Les, meanwhile, was nonchalant regarding the whole furore. "Yeah we are [recording] but none of that is confirmed. It's all been talk, you know how these things go."

But Morabe is standing firm on his messy split with Stehr. "Ishmael is never going to be part of Jozi again. Never ever again!"