Jay Z, Rick Ross, Dr. Dre, Jake One and Universal Music Group are being sued by gospel singers Clara Shepherd Warrick and Jimmy Lee Weary for copyright infringement involving the 1976 song “I’m So Grateful (Keep in Touch).”
Warrick and Weary, who performed back then in gospel group Crowns of Glory, accuse UMG and Def Jam Records — along with the artists involved — of stealing their music and lyrics without permission. The claim was filed Wednesday in Illinois District Court.
Furthermore, the defendants claim that their original spiritual tune, intended to be uplifting, has been forever defaced by “unsavory language” in the modern interpretation, “3 Kings”:
“After the current use of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted work on the rap album by Rick Ross, Dr. Dre, Jay Z and Jake One, Plaintiffs’ song will soon have no value in the gospel community,” the lawsuit, which calls for “punitive, exemplary, and enhanced damages,” alleges.
The court filing lists some of the lyrics in question: “[i]f you real motherf***er scream cheers,” “[i]f the b**ch bad I got her in red bottoms,” “I only love her when that a** fat,” “[c]ome and suck a d**k for a millionaire,” “Ni**as couldn’t f**k with my daughter’s room,” “I whip the coke [cocaine], let the lawyer beat the case,” and “spray these ni**as baby just like daddy taught ya.”
Warrick and Weary take more than some credit for the success of the new song and the overall Rick Ross album, “God Forgives – I Don’t” — which was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rap Album category — saying they are “largely responsible for the success.”
The lawyers for the plaintiff argue that the defendants sampled and copied additional, substantial original elements of the plaintiffs’ song without permission. The filing goes on to say they didn’t even try contacting either party to ask for the “OK.” Furthermore, “an email was circulated acknowledging that the Defendants’ song … makes direct and explicit use of Plaintiffs’ Song.”
Oddly enough, “God Forgives – I Don’t” lists Weary as one of the writers on “3 Kings,” though the filing claims he was never contacted to use his name there either.
It gets weirder. The UMG Defendants submitted an agreement purportedly signed by a “James Weary,” the claim says. However, Weary’s legal name is Jimmy Lee Weary and “he has never gone by or signed his name as James Weary,” it states.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.
Listen to the two songs: