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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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
KMazur/WireImage

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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