We votin’ for Syl.
By Fred Mills
It’s hard not to fall on the pro-Syl Johnson side of the
situation at hand, when you consider his antagonists happen to be two of the
biggest and baddest egos in the business who always seem to get a pass from the
press no matter what they pull.
The situation, you ask: Soul-funk brother Johnson, who’s
been making music since the ‘60s (and was the subject of a BLURT profile a year
or so ago), is suing Jay-Z and Kanye West because they allegedly used a sample
of his track “Different Strokes” in their song “The Joy,” from the Watch the Throne (Def Jam) album,
without permission, credit or payment.
As Billboard is
reporting, “Johnson says that West originally wanted to use the sample for his
own solo album entitled My Beautiful Dark
Twisted Fantasy, but that the defendant was unable to obtain permission at
the time of release. After failure to clear a license for the sample on one
album, West’s use of the sample on another album without permission is said to
be an example of knowing and willful misappropriation.”
When Watch the Throne was originally released, Numero Group (Johnson’s label), immediately brought the
matter up, but apparently no one in the Kanye, Jay-Z or Def Jam camps felt
sufficiently moved to take any preemptive action – hence the current lawsuit.
Read the entire story at Billboard,
including possibly legal flaws that Johnson’s suit will face as well as some
details on an earlier lawsuit between Johnson and Cypress Hill. It will be
interesting to see how this all unfolds, and in particular how Kanye and Jay-Z
try to spin it in the press. Meanwhile, you can listen to the two songs and
decide for yourself.