A federal jury in Los Angeles recommended Tuesday that rapper and
producer Dr. Dre pay a British music publishing company $1.5
million for appropriating parts of the 1980 Fatback hit
“Backstrokin'” for “Let’s Get High,” from Dre’s album
2001. The songs are built on similar six-note funk bass
lines, Dre’s slowed to a tempo more suited to the follow-up to his
gangsta rap masterpiece The Chronic.
“Backstrokin’,” from the 1980 album Hotbox, was
Fatback’s highest-climbing single. Written by bassist Johnny
Flippin and drummer Bill Curtis, it reached Number Three on the
R&B chart in 1980. Fatback, a funk collective originally known
as the Fatback Band, also made one of the first rap singles ever
with their 1979 hit “King Tim III (Personality Jock).”
Minder Music, the London-based company that controls the rights
to “Backstrokin’,” was intially seeking $3.5 million in damages.
Lawyers for Dr. Dre maintain the similarities between the two
tracks — Dre wrote “High” with Eminem and others — are
unintentional, and say they plan to appeal the decision if the
judge approves the jury’s recommendation.
Dr. Dre’s 2001 has sold more than six million copies in