“I only heard it quite recently,” says French composer Jacques Loussier. “In fact, my son had heard it and told me that was my music played on this record, so that is why I’ve been listening to it. And, of course, it’s so obvious that it was a copy of my music.”
Loussier is speaking of Eminem’s “Kill You,” a track from the rapper’s 8 million-copy selling The Marshall Mathers LP that Loussier claims contains music lifted from his own composition, “Pulsion.” Loussier filed suit against the rapper and Interscope Records last week in federal court in New York City, citing copyright infringement. Loussier’s suit seeks an undisclosed amount in damages.
The Dr. Dre and Mel-Man-produced track, which is the first song on Marshall Mathers, features a repeated guitar line by Sean Cruse throughout its four-minute-plus running time that drives the track. “It’s more than similar,” Loussier says from his office in France, where he also runs a studio that has been the recording site for songs and albums by Elton John, Pink Floyd and others. “The harmonies are the same, the pitch is the same — the tune, the melody, everything except for one small note is all the same. And they use those two bars for four minutes and twenty seconds, and that’s the problem. People frequently use music by somebody else, but they only use one or two notes, something very short, but nothing to compare with the original.”
While Loussier’s name isn’t recognizable within the pop world, for the past four decades he has earned international acclaim for his compositions and recordings, which drew attention for their fusion of jazz and classical traditions. Loussier’s recordings with his innovative Play Back Trio, which introduced improvisations into the canon of J.S. Bach, sold more than 6 million copies internationally in the early Sixties. “I give approximately 100 concerts a year all over the planet — Europe, U.S.A., South America, New Zealand, Japan, everywhere,” Loussier says, “and I’ve become very well known. I play this song in the middle of a Bach arrangement that I’ve learned, and I improvise it for maybe four minutes in every concert I play. It’s a very efficient theme, so I play it. I don’t know what [Eminem] had in mind, but nobody has contacted me about the song, ever.”
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Calls to Interscope Records were not returned.