There’s a saying that imitation is the best form of flattery. Well for decades, many singers have immolated their favorite artists by imitating their dance moves and their vocal ad-libs and style. Many have even covered and sampled their classic hits which not only enlarge their fan bases, but it also helps introduce and re-introduce them to a new legion of fans. Many iconic artists doesn’t mind when artists cover and sample their music, but many do rightfully get upset when their music is sampled without permission. Especially when the song that features their sample becomes a hit and the original artist and writers aren’t receiving a fair share of their royalties prompting their to file lawsuits to receive credit and royalites. While many artists have and continues to seek permission to sample artist’s music, they have been several who still refuses to seek permission and when they’re called out, they and members of their large fan base try to attack the artists and their estates for fighting for their respect. Especially Robin Thicke, Pharell Williams and most recently Nicki Minaj.
Minja had released just released her 4th album “Queen” two days ago and it was revealed that the album was delayed due to numerous reasons. One of them was sampling Grammy-Award Winning Folk/Soul/Pop Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Tracy Chapman’s single “Baby Can I Hold You” without permission on a duet titled “Sorry” featuring Grammy Award-Nominated Rapper Nas who she dated for several month. Manji posted on her twitter page how she didn’t know that one of the samples was a song by Chapman and she made attempts to connect with her while asking her fans should she delay her album or release it. Many of the rapper who’s known for her colorful and blonde wigs and weaves had suggested that she release the album while throwing shade at Chapman who keeps a low profile when she’s not touring. From being called a boomaclot to a lesbian, many of the fans were very disrespectful, but many of Chapman’s fans clapped back by tweeting about Tracy’s achievements and contributions to music history while many even applauded her for not allowing the rapper who was dissed by Remy Mar at last year’s summer fest to sample her music, while many blasted Manji’s fans for not only knowing about Tracy’s legacy, but for disrespecting her. Nicki and her team should have reached out to Tracy for permission in the 1st place and had they did, so, the duet could have been included on the album, but since this didn’t happen, Nicki decided to not include the track on the album making her fans, who needs to know about the importance of Tracy’s legacy happy. Tracy paved the way for many female artists to record their own style of music, during the time when New Jack Swing, Hip-Hop and Rock music was dominating the airwaves and during the time when music videos was becoming the norm in the music industry.
In the summer of 2013, Soul Singer/Songwriter/Producer Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams had scored a huge hit with their single “Blurred Lines” featuring Rapper/Actor T.I. The single hit # 1 on the Pop, R&B and Dance Charts and while many of their fans were grooving to the song, several Old School Music lovers and journalists noticed that the song had a familiar disco groove; Marvin Gaye’s 1977 # 1 Pop, Soul and Disco classic “Got To Give It Up.” Many fans began to listen to the song and noticed the percussion, bassline and ad-libs were elements that was used in “Blurred Lines” Fans weren’t the only ones who noticed; several of Jan Gaye’s friends had noticed and when she was contacted, she listened to the song and realized that Thicke, Williams and T.I. had not only sampled her late ex-husband’s disco classic, they sampled without seeking permission. (Jan Gaye runs Marvin’s estate along with their children Marvin III, the son of Marvin and his 1st wife Anna Gordy Gaye and Nona and Frankie Jan’s children she had with Marvin). Shorty after hearing the song, they were naturally upset and shortly before the Labor Day weekend, Jan and Marvin’s children were hit with a lawsuit by Robin, Pharrell and T.I. who had also gone to court to petition a judge to agree that they didn’t sample the Motown classic for their single. The news of the lawsuit had many people pissed. Why would they sue Marvin’s children and ex-wife in the 1st place many have asked. Was it that they were being too greedy and they didn’t want to give them a fair share of the royalties? Well Jan, Marvin III, Nona and Frankie clapped back by filing a countersuit against the trio, who gave different stories about how they created the song, with Thicke who was cheating on his ex-wife Actress Paula Patton throwing Williams under the bus by saying that Pharell had originally wrote the song and later saying he was high on cocaine to really remember how the song was recorded. Well a publishing company settled with the Gaye family while they continued their countersuit with Robin and Pharell. On March 10, 2015, Robin’s 38th birthday, the jury had ruled in favor of Marvin’ family ordering him and Pharell to pay over $4 million in damages and to list Marvin credit as co-writer. Naturally Robin, Pharell and T.I. who wasn’t order to pay any damages due to him writing a line were upset at the verdict and tried to appeal, the judge’s decision which was denied. While Jan, Marvin III, Nona and Frankie were happy with the verdict, Robin, Pharrell and T.I. were upset claiming that they were hurt and the jury’s decision was based on them being emotional. Really?
Well first of all, Robin, Pharrell and T.I was the ones who not only stole Marvin’s classic, they also sued the Prince of Motown’s 2nd wife and children 1st. 2nd, during the time of the lawsuit, Marvin III and his mother Anna were both battling health issues with the latter dying 3 days after her 92nd birthday and four months after the countersuit was filed. Of course it was stressful, considering the fact that the Gaye family was offered a small amount of money from the platniff’s who was too damn greedy to be fair. Plus Jan, Marvin III, Nona and Frankie had to take time from their daily routines to meet with their attorneys and accountants to make sure that the trial was running smoothly. Especially (with the exception of Marvin III) since the family no longer resides in California where the suit was filed. Jan also had to spend time making sure that Nona’s son, who she’s help raised was properly taken care of, while she and her children had to make numerous trips to California. Robin, Pharrell and T.I. wasn’t the only ones who were crying wolf after the verdict. So were they fans. Especially their Black female followers. Many of them had the audacity to disrespect Marvin’s family by calling them lazy and saying that they needed to get regular jobs and stop being hungry and thirsty for money. Many were outraged by the number of Black females who were angry at the verdict. I spoke to one of my best friends about this and he said that the real reason they were upset was because they were crushing on Thicke due to his skin color and to him being married to a Black woman, which helped him get street credit along with his music. Many were shocked to learn that he cheated on her when his career began to go into orbit and some have forgiven him. Well regardless of his ex-wife’s race, he, Pharell and T.I. had no business stealing Marvin’s classic and suing his family to prevent them from getting their proper share of the royalties they deserved in the 1st place. I bet if this happened to Robin’s he would probably get mad and cry to his famous mother Singer/Songwriter/Actress/Author Gloria Lorrin for comfort and support while hiring expensive and pricey lawyers to fight for him. If this happened to Pharrell, he would reunite with Chad Hugo to record a few diss tracks while hiring pricey lawyers to countersue. And God Forbid if any body was to steal one of T.I.’s songs. He would be ready to record a whole album and mix-tape about the situation while hiring lawyers to make sure that he recoups the money that’s taken from him.
I have no issues with artists sampling, but if they’re going to sample, they need to make sure that they’re get the proper clearance and permission to use their music and they’re getting their fare share of the royalties because they worked hard to create the music from their hearts and soul and it’s only right that they get the proper respect they deserve.