Syl Johnson Sues Kanye, Jay-Z

Soul singer claims rappers sampled song without permission

October 18, 2011 8:40 AM ET
Kanye West and Jay-Z perform onstage
Kanye West and Jay-Z perform onstage
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Soul legend Syl Johnson, who was furious about not receiving proper credit for a sample of one of his songs used on Kanye West and Jay-Z's album Watch the Throne when it was released in August, filed a lawsuit against the rappers in Illinois federal court on Friday.

Johnson claims that the rappers – along with their labels, UMG and Def Jam – took a portion of his song "Different Strokes," used it on the track "The Joy" and released the cut without his permission, proper credit or payment. According to Johnson, West had originally intended to use "The Joy" as a bonus track on his 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but the song was tabled due to legal hassles in clearing the samples.

Johnson has pursued previous legal action against rappers. His $29 million lawsuit against Cypress Hill was dismissed in 2008 on the technicality that sound recordings made before February 15, 1972 are not subject to copyright protection under the Copyright Act. The singer sued his legal team for malpractice after the ruling was upheld by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year.

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