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: