Jay-Z takes to the stand in Big Pimpin case
By Chris Cooke | Published on Thursday 15 October 2015
Jay-Z spent about 90 minutes on the witness stand yesterday in the big ‘Big Pimpin’ court case in the US, chatting about his life, his career, his music, his successes and his creative process, the court should get itself a YouTube channel and start monetising this shit.
The conclusion: “The samples in ‘Big Pimpin’ were all properly cleared, man”. I added the “man”. I don’t now that he actually said that. Is Jay-Z the sort of person to say “man”? Probably not. “The samples in ‘Big Pimpin’ were all properly cleared, bitch”. Oh hang on, didn’t Jay-Z pledge to never use the ‘b’ word ever again? Oh no, actually he didn’t.
Anyway, as previously reported, this case revolves around a snippet of music by the late Egyptian film composer Baligh Hamdi that was sampled in the Timbaland-produced Jay-Z track ‘Big Pimpin’, released as a single way back in 2000.
Timbaland’s people licensed the sample via an EMI subsidiary which had a deal with an Egyptian music company. But the Hamdi family says those companies didn’t have the right to grant a licence, and even if they did, allowing the snippet to be sampled in this track infringed the late composer’s moral rights under Egyptian law.
Jay-Z, Timbaland and their business partners have asserted that they properly licensed the sample, that the Hamdi family has been earning from it ever since, and that the Egyptian moral rights complaint isn’t relevant in the American jurisdiction.
In among all that there was some humorous banter during yesterday’s testimony, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Noting Jay-Z’s role in the career of Kanye West, the rapper’s attorney said to the courtroom “some people may have heard of him”. Jay-Z responded, “one or two… he’s running for president”.
Referring to the moral rights issue, a lawyer for the Hamdi family said Jay-Z had placed “vulgar” lyrics over Baligh Hamdi’s “beautiful” melody. The rapper didn’t go with the word “vulgar”, instead calling his raps “adult lyrics”, but he said he still enjoyed performing the track, adding: “I like the song, it’s pretty good”.
The case continues.