As Jay-Z and Kanye West celebrate the recent success of their album “Watch the Throne,” the rappers may face a lawsuit from a Chicago soul singer who claims the pair illegally sampled one of his songs from the 1960s.
According to the music, film and photography preservation company The Numero Uno Group, singer Syl Johnson said the hip-hop duo illegally sampled his 1967 track “Different Strokes” for their song “The Joy.”
The latter track was originally intended to appear on the deluxe edition of West’s 2010 album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but was used instead as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of “Watch The Throne.” West is credited as the producer of the track, though it was in fact produced by Pete Rock.
The Numero Uno Group said the sample wasn’t cleared in time for West’s album last year, and they were erroneously named as the publishers of the song on this year’s album.
The company recently Tweeted, “Hey , thanks for illegally sampling Syl Johnson on “The Joy” and then crediting us(?). Have your lawyers call our lawyer.” Their post on the situation has since been removed.
Johnson voiced his frustrations to Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ, saying that West should have approached him first before using the song because they know each other personally. The rapper collaborated with Johnson’s daughter Syleena for his 2004 hit “All Falls Down.”
“He knows my daughter—they came up together,” he told WMAQ. “Mr. West should have come to me. I don’t like going through this. I’m not dying to get on TV or go to court.”
According to MTV, “Watch the Throne” has already gone gold with more than 600,000 copies sold to date. Johnson is seeking compensation through a hearing or settlement.
Syl Johnson’s Different Strokes: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AizWO6UNok
Kanye West’s The Joy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgzoqagw_E0