Harlem Shakes up two sampling claims, RZA fights back against another claim, and Frank Ocean “Lost” at sea!

April 2013

Record labels, music publishers


The ‘Harlem Shake’ internet phenomenon has prompted two separate artists to come forward, each claiming ownership of one of the two phrases that appear in the now much used and much reversioned Baauer track.

With the track now earning substantial sums from YouTube plays, not to mention more conventional download monies on the back of the ‘Harlem Shake’ video craze, retired reggaeton artist Hector Delgado has come forward to claim ownership of the repeated “con los terroristas” line that appears in the track, while Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson says he is behind the “do the Harlem Shake” moment.

Musson, who originally said “do the Harlem Shake” in a 2001 track called ‘Miller Time’, released by the group Plastic Little, says he has been in “friendly talks” with Diplo-led label Mad Decent, which released ‘Harlem Shake’, about getting a cut of income now that the track is bringing in substantial royalties.

Having apparently called Baauer, real name Harry Rodrigues, to thank him for “doing something useful with our annoying music”, Musson said that “Mad Decent have been more than cooperative during this”.

Delgado, now a preacher, who was previously also known as Hector “El Bambino” and Héctor “El Father”, is being represented trough his former label, Universal-owned Machete Music, which is being more hard line in its legal talks with Mad Decent, although Delgado himself did tell the Times “it’s almost like they came on my land and built a house”. Delgado’s former manager, Javier Gomez, who first noticed the use of the “con los terroristas” line in the latest YouTube phenomenon, added: “[Delgado will] get what he deserves. We can turn around and stop that song. That’s a clear breaking of intellectual property right”.

Elsewhere, Wu Tang Clan man RZA, real name Robert Diggs, has launched legal proceedings against a company called JVC Kenwood Holdings in relation to allegations made against the Kanye West track ‘Dark Fantasy’, which Diggs produced. It seems that a JVC Kenwood subsidiary Teichiku Entertainment has accused West and RZA of sampling a track it owns called ‘Gincyo Watadori’, performed by Japanese actress and singer Meiko Kaji, and is in the process of suing West’s label Island Def Jam for damages. While that litigation is pending, Universal’s IDJ is seemingly withholding $50,000 in royalties from RZA, so to cover itself for any future payout to Teichiku Entertainment.

The producer, who denies the illegal sampling claim, is clearly unimpressed and is now taking Teichiku to court in a bid to have the allegations dismissed (so that IDJ can pay him his unpaid royalties):

RZA’s legal representaive, Howard King, said “We see dozens of baseless copyright infringement claims against our clients every year. Rather than engaging in costly and fruitless dialogue trying to convince claimants and their contingency lawyers that our clients do not succumb to extortion and settle ridiculous claims, we have decided to commence declaratory relief actions to squash some of these claims and, perhaps, recover our costs of defending same. The RZA complaint is the second one of these we have filed this month, with more to come”. On the specifics of this dispute, he continued: “RZA did not use Teichiku’s piano run [as it claims], and it sounds different from the one in ‘Dark Fantasy’. In fact, it would have been technologically impossible to sample the piano run without the rest of the music in ‘Gincyo Watadori’ and the piano run in ‘Gincyo’ is so simple that the least talented person in the studio could have replayed it had anyone wished to do so“.

And R&B BRIT winning star Frank Ocean has been hit with a copyright lawsuit over his track “Lost”. Songwriter Micah Otano claims he teamed up with producer Malay and wrote a tune called Daylight, but never received credit for his work when it was allegedly renamed and included on the Grammy winner’s debut studio album, Channel Orange. Otano has filed legal papers at the U.S. District Court in California seeking undisclosed damages and back royalties, according to AllHipHop.com.



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