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Baskettcase: Syl Johnson Suing Kanye West, Jay-Z

October 19, 2011

Johnson's 1967 classic tune is being misappropriated by self-proclaimed 'producers' such as Kanye West.

A Column By Jeremy Baskett

Looks like ‘Watch the Throne’ better watch their tone.

The kings of hip-hop were served with a lawsuit atop of their throne this week, as soul legend Syl Johnson is taking Jay-Z and Kanye West to court for unauthorized use of his 1967 hit “Different Strokes.” The track appeared on the duo’s “Watch the Throne” album, which was released this year to a popular reception. The sample taken from Johnson’s “Different Strokes” song appeared on the Deluxe Edition of the album, in their song, “The Joy,” without permission or even credit to Johnson in the liner notes.

Reports say Kanye had been eyeing the sample for awhile, and attempted to use it for his solo album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but was unable to obtain the permission in time. Johnson claims that the sample’s use was a “knowing and willful misappropriation” of his work. The lawsuit seeks to impound all copies of Watch the Throne, impose punitive damages and a full account of sale and publishing money.

This popularized sample is no stranger to hip-hop music to begin with. The following songs have all featured Johnson’s 1967 hit in some format:  Wu-Tang Clan’s “Shame on a N—a,” Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” the Beastie Boys’ “Desperado” and the Geto Boys’ “Homie Don’t Play That.”

Sound familiar?

Syl Johnson – Different Strokes

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 20, 2011 8:14 pm

    I’m interested in this ‘ impound all copies of Watch the Throne’ aspect—does that mean all the CD’s will be recalled? Online/digital versions deleted, encrypted?

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