Rap titans Kanye West and Jay-Z have settled a lawsuit filed by blues singer Syl Johnson over sounds appearing on their platinum-selling Watch the Throne album that Johnson claims were used without his permission.
The song in question, “The Joy” – which was recorded during West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sessions and appeared only as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of Watch The Throne – contains a sample of Johnson’s 1967 song “Different Strokes.” Johnson alleged that the sample was used without clearance, credit or compensation and was therefore in violation of federal copyright law.
“He knew me, he knew my daughter … Mr. West should’ve come to me,” Johnson pled in an October interview. Johnson’s daughter Syleena sang on the Grammy-nominated single “All Falls Down” from West’s debut album, The College Dropout.
“I don’t like goin’ through this,” Johnson said.
According to Billboard, representatives for West and Jay-Z initially disputed Johnson’s claim, saying in their official Answer to the suit that the portion of the original recording that was used was “not part of the musical composition” and that, if it was, it was “not protectable” because it was made before the copyright law protecting sound recordings took effect in 1972.
Details of the settlement were undisclosed, but this particular suit is apparently over.
This wasn’t the first time around the lawsuit block for any of the parties involved.
Johnson – who has made a heap of money from rappers like RZA and Masta Ace who’ve sampled his songs legally – most recently sued California rap crew Cypress Hill over their track “Lock Down,” an interlude on their 1993 album Black Sunday containing a sample of Johnson’s hit, “Is It Because I’m Black?” His suit was dismissed.
Kanye West is still in court after Virginia rapper Vincent “Vince P.” Peters claimed West stole the lyrics to his hit “Stronger” from a song Peters had written.
Jay-Z’s lawsuits are hardly ever music-related. His most recent one revolved around charges that the mogul missed payments on workers compensation insurance covering cooks, maids and other domestic workers at his TriBeCa home. He was cleared of those charges in January.