Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kanye's lawyer: We don't owe Syl shit

Posted By on 12.20.11 at 04:00 PM

Soul legend and plaintiff Syl Johnson
  • Soul legend and plaintiff Syl Johnson
Back in October local soul legend Syl Johnson sued Kanye West and Jay-Z for what he claimed was an uncleared sample of his song "Different Strokes"—a song that would surely be one of the charter inductees into the Uncleared Sample Hall of Fame if there were such a thing—on the Watch the Throne track "The Joy." Hot on the heels of the incredibly successful Throne tour, the pair have revealed their defense strategy.

According to Billboard Jay and 'Ye's lawyer, Carrie Hall, has countered the suit by claiming that, "Any claim based on the alleged use of Plaintiffs' recording is barred because, inter alia, (a) the allegedly copied portion of the Plaintiff's recording is not part of the musical composition; and, if it is part of the composition, (b) is not protectable and/or (c) any use was de minimus," but will not come out and admit that "The Joy" even samples Syl. In layman's terms: "Well maybe they did it, but even if they did, it doesn't count."

For a side-by-side comparison, see if you can spot the Syl sample:

Both Jay and Kanye have cozied up to the Occupy movement in order to rack up some populist bona fides, but this defense is as morally weaselly as any of the proudly 1 percenter self-justifications I've heard yet. Dudes, you obviously sampled Syl for one of the biggest-selling albums of the year, no matter if the sampled passage is "part of the musical composition" or not. You just came off of one of the biggest and, from all indications, most financially successful arena tours of 2011 as well. Pay the guy like he deserves to be paid. Pay him well and you'll maybe clear some of hip-hop's bad karma for all of its past uncleared Syl samples. You might have to give up a day or two of buying fantastically luxurious suits or something, but hey, we're all making sacrifices these days.

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