Kendrick Lamar is being sued by Mattie Music Group for using a sample of Bill Withers’ Don’t Want You To Stay, featured on Kendrick Lamar EP, which came out back in 2009. The music publishing company, who are the alleged owners to Wither’s 1975 record, are pressing charges on claims that Lamar replicated its instrumentals in his track I Do This.
While many upcoming artists sample songs without clearance, often without penalty, it’s not often that you get to the level of fame Kendrick Lamar is now at. As such, it’s nearly impossible for Lamar to dodge the hot seat with the career he’s established for himself – not to mention the successful 2016 he’s had thus far, what with eleven Grammy nominations, five Grammy wins, and the surprise 2016 release untitled unmastered. which debuted at no. 1.
Perhaps you can find parallels between the two songs – listen to them below – but according to the suit filed, Mattie Music Group kindly believes, “The musical composition ‘I Do This’ consists of nothing more than new, so called Rap or Hip Hop lyrics, set to the existing music of ‘Don’t Want You To Stay'”.
Alongside Lamar, Warner Bros. Music, Top Dawg Entertainment, and Warner/Chappell Productions are all being sued for copyright infringement.
According to Billboard, “Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Defendant Lamar has openly admitted that his musical composition I Do This copies the music of Don’t Want You To Stay with a thumb to the noise, catch me if you can attitude.”
Maybe that’s just Kendrick Lamar being Kendrick Lamar, or maybe it’s a habituated response to frequent lawsuit charges. Back in July, a freelance photographer sued the Compton artist for illegally using his photo for the artwork used to promote then-new single The Blacker The Berry, off To Pimp A Butterfly. Going further, in 2014, Lamar was brought to court by Eric Woolfson of The Alan Parsons Project, with a similar plot to MMG’s. Woolfson believed their song Old and Wise was unlawfully sampled on Lamar’s Kiesha’s Song (Her Pain) back 2011’s Section.80.
Words by Kat Tumandao / Originally written for Indie News
Image: Dani Hansen / Howl & Echoes