Kanye West and Jay-Z Sued for Alleged Improper Sampling on ‘Watch the Throne’

Musician Syl Johnson says the hip-hop honchos cribbed off his 1967 tune “Different Strokes” to make “The Joy”

Kanye West and Jay-Z have hit a bum note with one songwriter who claims that they lifted his material without permission.

The two hip-hop moguls are being sued by musician Syl Johnson, who claims in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois Friday alleging that West and Jay-Z sampled his 1967 song "Different Strokes" for a tune on their recent collaboration "Watch the Throne."

Also read: Review: Jay-Z & Kanye Est Earn Their Egos With "Watch the Throne"

According to Johnson's suit, the pair had first solicited permission to sample "Different Strokes" on the song "The Joy" for West's album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," but were shot down, and the song was left off the album. The tune ended up on "Watch the Throne," which was released in August.

According to the suit, the defendants claim they received permission to sample the song from an entity called the Numero Uno Group, which has never had any authorization to license the tune.

"Different Strokes" has been sampled by a number of artists, including Michael Jackson, Kid Rock and Will Smith, the lawsuit states.

Johnson, who also names Island Def Jam, Universal Music Group and Roc-a-Fella Records in the suit, is seeking actual and punitive damages to be determined at a jury trial.

Listen to "Different Strokes" and "The Joy" below.

Attempts by TheWrap to obtain comment from Universal, West and Jay-Z were unsuccessful.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

  • chungasrevenge

    they should be sued.

  • charles strickland

    i don't think they should be sued because thats highest compliment that one artist can give another

    • Eric

      They did not parody his words and music they outright stole it. That is theft not flattery. I guess if I drove around town in your car after I stole it, then it must mean that I really like your taste in cars and you should be happy I am using it and not you.

  • FoosFam

    Who cares…… Hip hop garbage being stolen? This is like suing the neighbors dog because it's feces too closely resemble your dogs feces…..