Kanye and Jay sued over Watch The Throne track

By | Published on Wednesday 19 October 2011

Jay-Z & Kanye West

What, another rapper accused of using a sample without permission? Ha, no, its two rappers this time, suckers. US musician Syl Johnson has filed a lawsuit against Kanye West and Jay-Z over the use of a sample of his song ‘Different Strokes’ on a track on the hip hoppers’ collaborative album ‘Watch The Throne’.

As previously reported, back in August record label the Numero Group, which represents Johnson’s recordings, posted a blog entry threatening legal action over the sample. The company claimed that West’s label Def Jam had got in touch about licensing the track for sampling on West’s previous album ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’, but that no agreement had been reached, and that no talks had ever taken place regarding ‘Watch The Throne’. The lawsuit, filed last week, also names Def Jam, Universal Music and Roc-A-Fella Records as defendants.

Billboard notes that previous legal action taken by Johnson against Cypress Hill relating to an unapproved sample was unsuccessful because the track in question dated from before 1972, and judges ruled that the sound recording rights the singer said he owned were not therefore protected by federal law. As ‘Different Strokes’ was released in 1967 the new lawsuit specifically relies on Illinois state law, where the lawsuit was filed, which may or may not work.