Kendrick Lamar for JET Magazine

11 Musicians That Have Faced Lawsuits Over Songs They Sampled

artists with sample lawsuit

Samples are often used to bring a track to life and make it stand out. Before these sounds and vocals are borrowed, permission is supposed to be given by the original creators. Many of our favorites drop the ball and fail to acquire the proper sampling rights before lacing their songs with these catchy hook and instrumental accents. Once these tracks blow up, the originators come knocking and hurl out million dollar lawsuits. Browse to see 11 rappers and singers who didn’t get away with sampling songs without permission.

All Photos: Getty Images

Drake lawsuit

Back in April, OVO’s own faced a $300,000 lawsuit for not properly attributing the intro of his song “Pound Cake” from his third album, Nothing Was the Same. The lawsuit from the late musician’s estate claims that Drizzy didn’t give props to jazz musician Jimmy Smith for using his “Jimmy Smith Rap,” which was recorded in 1982.

kanye west lawsuit

Yeezy failed to get the permission from singer Ricky Spicer to use his voice on his Yeezus single “Bound 2” which led to him getting hit with a lawsuit. Spicer demanded either getting compensation or that Kanye cease and desist from using his voice. Spicer said he recorded the original vocals on a song called “Bound” in the ‘70s while in group The Ponderosa Twins Plus One and named Ye, Roc-A-Fella Records, Island Def Jam and Rhino Entertainment in his lawsuit.

Jay Z Lawsuit

Last year, Hova was sued by the deceased singer Eddie Bo’s estate for using his voice on the 2009 hit “Run This Town” featuring Rihanna and his (former?) BFF Kanye West. The lawsuit claims that Eddie Bo’s 1969 song “Hook and Sling Part 1” was used for the track without any authorization. This month Jay Z requested that the case be dismissed. After all, the only thing Jay took from the song was the word “Oh.”

Ludacris Lawsuit

In January, David Banner and Ludacris faced a copyright infringement lawsuit for allegedly using a sample from singer Tyrone Davis’ 1979 hit “Be With Me” for the 2010 song “Be With You.” Luda claims that there was no sample used and that the song is entirely original but Davis begged to differ.

frank ocean

In February, Frank Ocean was slapped with a lawsuit from TufAmerica for sampling Mary J. Blige’s hit “Real Love” for his song “Super Rich Kids” for his 2012 album, Channel Orange. The lawsuit also named Universal Music Group and Def Jam in the lawsuit saying that the "Defendants have failed and refused to secure a license from TufAmerica for its share of the rights to use 'Real Love' in “Super Rich Kids.” TufAmerica owns 3.15 percent of “Real Love” in case you were wondering.

carly rae jepsen lawsuit

Singer Carly Rae Jepsen was sued by Ukrainian singer Aza for sampling her Christmas song  “Hunky Santa” for her 2012 hit “Call Me Maybe.” In the lawsuit, Aza claims that Carly Rae ripped off her whole song and just tweaked the lyrics.
Katy Perry Lawsuit

Besides receiving backlash for the "Dark Horse" video, Katy Perry was also hit with a lawsuit from the Gospel rap group Flame. The St. Louis collective, which Christian rapper Lecrae was a part of,  claimed that Perry sampled their song "Joyful Noise" that was released in 2008 without asking.

Biggie Lawsuit

Singer Lee Hutson, who is the former lead singer of  the 70s group The Impressions, sued the estate of the late Notorious B.I.G earlier this year for using a sample from his 1973 song “Can’t Say Enough About Mom” for his Method Man-assisted track “The What.”

50 Cent Lawsuit

Robert Poindexter of 70s singing group The Persuaders filed a lawsuit against 50 Cent in 2012 for using  a sample from the group’s “Love Gonna Pack Up and Walk Out” for his 2009 song “Redrum.” The song was a mixtape titled Wardrum that Fif gave away for free online. Poindexter was demanding that he be paid $600,000 in punitive damages.

Rick Ross lawsuit

In 2013, gospel songwriters Clara Shepperd Warwick and Jimmy Lee Weary  came for the bawse Rick Ross. Allegedly, Rozay sampled a song they wrote for Crowns of  Glory  called “I’m So Grateful (Keep in Touch)” for his 2012 song “3 Kings” from God Forgives, I Don’t. Weary claimed he was not contacted to be asked for permission nor was he compensated. The song also features Dr. Dre and Jay Z, who were also named in the suit.

Kendrick Lamar Lawsuit

Back in July, K. Dot was hit with a lawsuit from Woolfsongs Unlimited, who manages 80s act Eric Woolfson and his band The Aaron Parson Project. They claim that the Compton native used their 1982 track “Old and Wise” for Section.80’s “Keisha’s Song (Her Pain)” without acquiring the proper sampling rights. In September, another lawsuit popped up when musicians Eric Reed and Willie Jones III  sued the good kid for allegedly using their song “The Thorn” for his 2011 track “Rigamortis”also from Section.80. The two said that Lamar used their song “The Thorn” and did not credit them or ask to use their song as a sample. Reed and Jones III are seeking all the rights and profits to “Rigamortis” along with $1 million.

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
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BET To Unveil Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

As Being Mary Jane comes to an end, BET is willing to offer fans a taste of what's to come in the series finale.

The network has enlisted the help of Ayesha Curry, celebrity cook and cookbook author, to create an edible billboard that also doubles as a wedding cake. The sweet treat will commemorate Mary Jane's (played by Gabrielle Union) nuptials in the two-hour series finale.

On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

Don't forget to tune into the series finale of Being Mary Jane on Tues. (April 23) at 8/7 c.

Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET! pic.twitter.com/jEwkbC71OW

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

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The North Face

Ella Mai On The North Face's 'Explore Mode' Campaign, New Music And Living In The Moment

Ella Mai is in her own age of exploration. Her eponymous debut album scored her a platinum plaque with her breakout hit, "Boo'd Up" earning her a Grammy for Best R&B Song. But the accolades aren't driving her creative path. The arc in her compass is all about the places she's traveled, the people she's met and the lessons learned along the way.

"To be honest, personally, exploration is like growth. I feel like if you don't explore new things, whether it's going outside, meeting people or trying new food, you won't ever grow because you're just stuck in your little comfort zone which can be super scary to come out of," she tells VIBE at The North Face's Explore Mode event in New York on Monday (April 15). The singer is one of three women (including model-activist Gabrielle Richardson and chef Angela Dimayuga) who teamed up with the brand to share a message of enjoying the outside world without digital confinement and the global initiative to make Earth Day a national holiday.

The London native's urge to explore came in handy over the weekend when she performed in the brisk desert of Coachella. Inspired by artists like Rihanna and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mai helped fans enjoy the hazy sunset as she performed hits like "Trip" and her latest No. 1 song, "Shot Clock."

"It's such a good feeling, especially when it comes to radio," she shared about her track reaching No. 1 on the airplay chart. "I wasn't even sure if people listened to the radio because people have so much access to streaming platforms, but obviously having all three of my singles from my debut album, go number one on urban radio is incredible."

That energy was brought to the Coachella stage with the festival being her biggest artistic exploration so far.

"My favorite part of the performance would have to be when I performed "Naked" and because it was dark, and I performed when the sun went down, I couldn't see how far the crowd actually went back. But during "Naked," it was such an intimate moment I asked everyone to put their lights up (phones) and when I saw how far it went back I was like, "Woah." That moment sealed it for me."

"Even there were two people in the audience, I still would've done my best," she added. "But just to see the crowd be so engaged, even if they didn't know the music, was a really good feeling. I had so much fun."

As the festival energy in Indio, Calif. continued to thrive, another rested on the streets of Los Angeles following the loss of Nipsey Hussle. With the singer having ties to those close to the rapper like DJ Mustard, she says the shift in the city was hard to ignore.

"As weird as it sounds, you felt it," she said. "Even in the weather, it was super hot and then everyone got the news and it started raining. Just a weird energy shift." As a new L.A. resident, the singer says Nipsey's influence cannot be denied.

"I feel like the energy shift went both ways; everyone was really sad, grieving and mourning but everyone feels more inspired by what he was doing that they want to go out and do something and change in their community. It's still a very touchy subject in L.A., especially the people that I'm around since they were very close to him. I think everyone is super inspired to do better and try to be more like him, which is great to see. YG's whole set at Coachella was dedicated to him, I know Khalid had a dedication to Mac Miller. Everyone is super aware of what Nipsey was trying to do and how he wanted to change the world."

Engaging in The North Face's mission to explore seemed to be in the cards for Mai. Like many of us, Mai was familiar with the brand's effective coolness factor. "I remember running home and telling my mom that I needed a Jester Backpack because my cousin had one as well, and it's similar to the other stories, I wanted to be like my older cousin (laughs) so my mom ended up getting me one." But there's also the incentive to showcase the importance of stepping away from the phone screens and into leafy green forests.

"I'm such a live-in-the-moment person," she says of her lack of identity on social media. While she might share a thought or two on social media, Mai is interested in appreciating the world around her. "I feel like everyone is so consumed about documenting the day, you don't really get to live the day. You just watch it back but I like to have the memories in my head. Of course, sometimes, I'll take out my phone but I try to live in the moment as much as possible."

Part of that mission is ensuring Earth Day is celebrated the right way. With the support of Mai, Richardson, and Dimayuga, The North Face officially launched a petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

“The North Face is no stranger to exploration and this Earth Day we are proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Global General Manager of Lifestyle at The North Face, Tim Bantle. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the Earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it. Explore Mode urges us to unplug from our digital lives to connect in real life to the world, each other, and ourselves in the effort to move the world forward.”

Mai hasn't hit her all of her exploration goals just yet. "I really want to go to Indonesia or Bali," she said. "That's one of my Bucket List places I really, really, really wanna go." For her essentials, the singer knows she has to bring along a windbreaker set and of course, a jester backpack. "I think the backpack is the most important thing."

In addition to a few trips around the globe, one destination includes the studio for new music. While she hasn't had time to lock down a moment to record, the inspiration is sizzling.

"When I work in the studio, I like to be like there for a good amount of time," she explains. "I like to block off two to three weeks at a time, I don't like to go to different studios and different places, it's just a comfort thing but I'm very excited to get back cause I have a lot of talk about. I've seen so many different places and met so many new people and a lot that I didn't get to experience last year."

Learn more about The North Face's petition for Earth Day here.

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