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Soul Legend Syl Johnson Angry Over 'Watch the Throne' Sample

Says he was not properly credited on Jay-Z and Kanye West's album

August 24, 2011 4:10 PM ET
syl johnson kanye west
Syl Johnson
Robin Little/Redferns

Soul legend Syl Johnson is upset that he has not received proper credit for a sample of his song "Different Strokes" on Jay-Z and Kanye West's collaborative album Watch the Throne. In a post on the Numero Group site, the label explains that "The Joy," a track on the record which was originally slated to appear as a bonus track on a scrapped deluxe edition of West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was credited to the label – who did not publish the song – rather than Johnson.

According to Numero Group, a non-binding clearance deal was arranged by email with Island Def Jam last year, but when the deluxe edition plans fell through, the label group stopped responding to emails and phone calls. Even though the song had not yet been commercially released, both Numero and Johnson considered legal action, which they ultimately decided against, reasoning that West would eventually need to clear something else from their catalog and could use this incident as leverage.

Now it looks like Johnson may pursue a lawsuit after all. At the end of the Numero Group post, the label says that the singer was "nearly in tears" on the phone discussing the matter. "Island Def Jam seems to think that Syl doesn't have any fight left in him. We're betting otherwise," the label wrote.

Related
Photos: Jay-Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne' Artwork
Kanye West and Jay-Z's 'Watch the Throne': A Track-by-Track Breakdown
Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci Unveils Album Art for Jay-Z and Kanye West's 'Watch The Throne'
Jay-Z and Kanye West Avoid 'Watch the Throne' Leak
Video: Jay-Z and Kanye West Perform "H.A.M." Live in Austin

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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