In news from the courts today, Jay-Z has finally taken to the stand and testified against a lawsuit against him that has been ongoing for the last four years.
Centred around his 1999 hit Big Pimpin’, Jigga defended himself today against claims that the track unlawfully featured samples from an Egyptian composer by the name of Baligh Hamdy and his 1957 er… hit, Khosara Khosara. For comparison’s sake, here’s Big Pimpin':
And here’s Khosara Khosara:
Yeah it’s pretty blatant, although it hasn’t ever been denied as being a sample in the past. According to Egyptian ‘moral rights’ laws though, Jay-Z would have had to have been given the permission of all four of Hamdy’s children before sampling his song, as they had the rights handed down to them upon his passing in 1993. The issue is that it’s an altered sample of the song, where only the full unaltered version could have been legally used.
Jay-Z’s defense was kind of hilarious. The rapper claiming: “I didn’t think there was a sample in it. Timbaland presented me with a track. I didn’t even think about there being a sample”. He was also asked why he didn’t think to check where the sample had come from and he absolutely did his best to put the Attorney General questioning him in his place, stating. “I make music, I’m a rapper, I’ve got a clothing line, I run a label, a media label called Roc Nation, with a sports agency, music publishing and management. Restaurants and nightclubs … I think that about covers it.”
It didn’t, as the existence of Tidal was also pointed out to him. Even Jay-Z forgot about Tidal.
He also had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when asked about some of the artists whose careers he had helped, including Rihanna and one Kanye West, when asked if these people knew him he responded with ‘One or two, he’s running for President’.
In attempting to demonstrate the relative unimportance of the sample, Timbaland, who produced the offending song, had his attorneys bring out a keyboard for him to compose a beat on, but technical difficulties ensued and Timbaland instead got up in court and beatboxed it himself in what I’m sure was a watershed moment for the California courtroom.
According to lawyers for Jigga and for Timbaland, the Hamdy family have repeatedly been paid for the sample in the past. They’ll continue to defend the pair tomorrow. Stay tuned.
We hope Jay-Z continues his life as a living, breathing video game cheat code though.