Jay-Z and Kanye West

Exclusive: Soul Music Vet Syl Johnson Officially Files Lawsuit Against Jay-Z, Kanye West

(AllHipHop News) Soul music veteran Syl Johnson has officially filed a lawsuit against superstar rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West, claiming the pair illegally sampled one of his songs.

The lawsuit claims that the pair swiped elements of his classic 1967 song “Different Strokes” and used it in a song titled “The Joy” on their latest album, Watch the Throne.

Syl Johnson’s Syl-Zel Music filed the lawsuit in United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern division, yesterday (October 13).

Lawyers for Johnson claimed that Jay-Z and Kanye West attempted to clear a sample of “Different Strokes” on a song for inclusion on another one of Kanye West’s albums, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

They were not able to receive the proper permission to use the sample in time for the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the track was subsequently left off of the album.

Johnson’s lawsuit claims that Jay-Z and Kanye West never received permission to sample “Different Strokes” but the pair used it anyway and released it on their Watch the Throne album on “The Joy.”

“Defendants are aware that Plaintiff’s own the copyrights to ‘Different Strokes’ as Defendants attempted to obtain permission to use an excerpt from this composition on West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” Johnson’s lawyer wrote in the complaint. “When Defendants were unable to legally obtain the rights to this composition for West’s album, Defendants withheld releasing ‘The Joy.’ Despite having never received permission to use an excerpt from ‘Different Strokes,’ Defendants nonetheless released ‘The Joy’ shortly thereafter on Watch the Throne.”

Syl Johnson and his Syl-Zel Music company seek to impound all copies of Watch the Throne, in addition to a full accounting of sales and publishing proceeds, along with punitive damages.

In August, Syl Johnson threatened to sue the pair after he got wind of the song’s pending release.

Check out the lawsuit below:




    • Kanye didn’t even make this damn beat! Pete Rock did. Smh…

      • yeah and pete didnt even put that sample in there he’s getting sued for either smh. He shouldnt have put that sample in there,let pete do what he does,he’s a professional. 

      • Ace

        Who cares. If you know how points work……What Syl Johnson would get (Saleena Johnson’s father) is nothing for individuals who are on Forbes list. As for Pete and your obvious fondness for him, he is a sampler. Kanye creates musical compositions. Pete Rock loops and samples on an SP-1200 and two turntables. While that may be dope in essence. It will never weigh up to a producer that can control instrumentalists and make full blown artistic creations. Pete is a legend, but KANYE IS A MONSTER. So with all do respect, Jay and Ye will give Syl a settlement and send him back into obscurity.

        ….BESIDES, that Syl sample can be found on just about EVERY break beat CD which makes the sample “public domain” which means that YOU DON’T HAVE TO CLEAR IT! I am a producer by the way and I have produced for a RED/SONY artist as well as a few other southern notables.

      • Just to be clear, music doesn’t become public domain until 75 years after the initial release. Just because a million break beat records have it doesn’t make it legal…they stole it too!

        I am a hip hop producer, but I’m also a music supervisor for television.




  • greenhouse records

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  • the song was a bonus on the cd, big deal. 

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  • Just to clear the air,pete rock produced the song but he didnt put that different strokes record in there,kanye did. I beleive in letting the original producer DO HIS JOB. When u dont let the producer do his job this is the result of it. I was there,pete had a dope piano in the beat,kanye took it out and put that different strokes sample in there. Same with the ghostface record ‘How u like me baby” Pete didnt even mix that song,so if he is not involved in the mix anything can happen. SMH @ deez new niggas thinkin they know what they doing and they really dont.i got an inside look. Pete Rock seriously has a library of his own music and its incredible. When i was with pete in hawaii i wasnt impressed with kanye and his passion,pete has way more passion than alot of people,and everybody u think is hot is just a facade. *Goingtobat4pete*

  • if these guys learn about the artist they are sampling we wouldnt have this problem. Knowledge is a great thing! smh lol man o man

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  • It is what it is… rappers been getting sued since De La Soul and Bizmarkie but that aint gonna stop people from doing it with or without permission. Hip Hop is rebel music and we do what we want if it enhances what we are trying to get across. Kudos to Ye for putting it out anyway and dealing with whatever and to the homie bashing Ye for putting the sample in there shame on you, if you know the music then you know a producers passion is always gonna take president over impending legal drama. So what if he added after Pete Rock finished… it aint Pete Rocks record, its Kayne & Jay, period.

    In the end Kanye has an extensive collection too, your kinda taking credit from the dude as if Pete Rock got a leg up. We all know Pete is great but honestly Pete reign was over in the 90’s. He is still revered for what he did but if a new guy adds something to it AFTER he give him the privilege of being on it then so be it. The money aint gonna hurt Ye so why not? In the end he did exactly what he wanted to do.

  • Between ACE & Rankin:
    Hmmm, gonna see how it plays out!
    Both make good points.
    Comparing Kanye to Pete is a whole lot better than comparing either to Quincy Jones.
    ( Skill Wise )
    The Track is hot though!
    Kool G Rap used it for ” Talk Like Sex ” & other parts were used back in the 80’s?

    Talk like Sex – was the opening for RAP CITY? or Yo! MTV Raps! for quite a while.
    ( Ed Lover & Dr Dre? ( The Fat 1 )

  • same on a nuh who tried tuh run game on a nuh>>>>>

  • my bad – S H A M E …. no text before am coffee.

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