There’s about to be a big mess going on over at Def Jam, considering a post that has popped up on publisher, Numero Uno Group’s blog, citing that Jay-Z and Kanye West, who as a unite, call themselves ‘The Throne,’ are guilty of copyright infringement on their joint venture, Watch the Throne.
Apparently, R&B/soul singer Syl Johnson (who also father of singer/songwriter Syleena Johnson) is considering a lawsuit against the two for an uncleared sample of one of his songs on their album. A sample of Johnson’s 1967 song “Different Strokes,” which appears on the track “The Joy,” was allegedly never properly cleared.
According to the publisher’s blog, Kanye originally used the sample on during his G.O.O.D. Friday promotion, where he released a new track every Friday, leading up to his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. The track was supposedly supposed to appear on a deluxe edition of West’s album, but that never came to pass:
“After a little negotiating, we came to a price and a verbal agreement (one that is completely standard). Paperwork to confirm all of this was to arrive for counter signature. Weeks passed. Then months. No deluxe version appeared in the market place, and our emails and phone calls to Def Jam’s business affairs department went unanswered. We spent the better part of five months trying to get paid, and finally handed it to our lawyer who recommended not pursuing legal action as the song wasn’t actually being sold.
Syl could have filed a more complex suit involving the use of his voice to promote the #1 album, but decided against it. Eventually, Kanye was going to want to clear some other part of our catalog, and we’d get Syl his money with leverage. With only a non-binding email to solidify the terms, we began the arduous process of having the song removed from money making channels like YouTube, for which Syl was seeing nothing. We thought the song was dead and moved on. It happens all the time.”
However, this week, Syl called the Numero Uno Publish Group, “nearly in tears,” asking if we knew why they appeared in the credits to the album.
“We had no idea. The credits misidentify Numero as the publisher of the sampled song (“Different Strokes”), which of course we are not, and any routine search of the BMI database would show otherwise.
Wondering why we weren’t consulted on this new use, and baffled why we appear in the credits, for which we never asked, we contacted the sample clearance house. Even they cannot get a response from their own clients. Island Def Jam seems to think that Syl doesn’t have any fight left in him. We’re betting otherwise.“
As we reported earlier, Kanye West and Jay-Z sold an additional 176,832 units last week, keeping Watch the Throne at it’s #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. To date, the album has sold 612,911 copies, with 62% of the sales from digital purchases (the album was sold exclusively on iTunes for a short period).