Jay-Z, Kanye West Sued Over Watch The Throne Sample

Soul legend Syl Johnson claims duo used 1967 hit without permission.

Jay-Z and Kanye West have been sued by soul/blues icon Syl Johnson over allegations that they sampled one of his songs on their Watch the Throne album without permission.

The complaint, filed in Illinois federal court Friday, alleges that the dynamic duo sampled a portion of his 1967 hit “Different Strokes”
on the Throne deluxe-edition song “The Joy,” according to the target="_blank">Hollywood Reporter. Johnson claims the song was sampled without his permission and has was not credited in the album’s liner notes. The song was produced by Pete Rock (Kanye West is credited as producer along with Mike Dean and Mike Bhaskar) and was originally part of the G.O.O.D. Fridays series of leaks.

The allegation of copyright infringement was first raised in late August, when archival record label and publisher the Numero Uno Group which was erroneously credited as the song’s publisher in the Throne — threatened a lawsuit on Johnson’s behalf.

The suit further claims West originally attempted to sample the tune on his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy solo album, but was unable to get clearance in time to use it. Given that history, the suit alleges West’s decision to use the sample on another album without permission is an example of “knowing” and “willful”
misappropriation.

The funky blues song has long been a favorite among rappers, including the Wu-Tang Clan (“Shame on a N—a”), Public Enemy (“Fight the Power”), the Beastie Boys (“Desperado”), the Geto Boys (“Homie Don’t Play That”) and Kool G Rap (“Talk Like Sex”) — and Johnson has not shied away from suing other hip-hop acts in the past to get paid for the use of his music.

The suit seeks to impound all the copies of Throne and requests a full accounting of sale and publishing money, along with punitive damages. A spokesperson for the Throne could not be reached for comment at press time.

Often guilty, never convicted. Serving 15 years to life at MTV News.