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Kanye West sued over Donda sample

By | Published on Wednesday 9 November 2022

Kanye West

Kanye West has been sued over an allegedly uncleared sample on ‘Life Of The Party’, a track that featured on the deluxe edition of his ‘Donda’ album.

A company called Phase One Network says that ‘Life Of The Party’ features a sample from a Boogie Down Productions track that it controls, that being ‘South Bronx’ from the KRS-One-led outfit’s 1987 album ‘Criminal Minded’.

This particular ‘Donda’ track has already been on quite the adventure. Although it was previewed at those pre-release listening parties that West staged for the album in summer 2021, it didn’t appear on the original track listing when ‘Donda’ was finally released at the end of August that year.

It transpired that it had been cut from the record at the request of guest artist Andre 3000. The verse he’d contributed was quite sweary, but then West decided he wanted a swear free album, and Andre 3000 didn’t feel his verse would work with the swearing edited out.

The track also featured a Drake-dissing verse by West, he and Drake being in the middle of a particularly tedious feud at the time. Drake then got hold of a copy and played it on his ‘Sound 42’ Sirius XM radio show.

And once the song was out there, it was decided to make the track officially available via West’s Stem Player device in October 2021 and then on the deluxe edition of ‘Donda’ the following month. And then it was released as a single. Fun times.

But what about this fucking sample? Well, according to the lawsuit filed by Phase One Network, West’s team made an approach about licensing the ‘South Bronx’ sample in July 2021, but no agreement was reached before the release of ‘Donda’ and the arrival of ‘Life Of The Party’ on the Stem Player. Licensing talks were then officially abandoned shortly after the release of the deluxe edition of ‘Donda’.

The lawsuit targets West and his Good Music label, the maker of the Stem Player and Universal Music, which was still releasing West’s recordings at the time.

Says the lawsuit: “By illegally incorporating ‘South Bronx’ into the infringing track and authorising the distribution of the infringing track through the Stem Player and its associated website, all defendants have allowed for the widespread distribution of the infringing track and have direct financial interest in the same”.

West, of course, is far too busy these days spouting dangerous bullshit to be commenting on something as mundane as uncleared sample lawsuit. However, the maker of the Stem Player, the UK-based Kano Computing Limited, has issued a statement regarding the litigation.

A spokesperson told Rolling Stone: “The Kano and Stem team were assured by Kanye and Yeezy that they would provide music with ‘all intellectual property rights, licences and consents’. This was important to us, because Stem is built from the ground up to be a more fair and immersive medium than the current music business”.

“On Stem, creators own and control their own work, pricing, rights, and distribution in full”, they added. “We just heard about this claim and we are investigating it now”.