The world of music sampling is slippery; if your song even remotely sounds like another, you may get sued or your due funds withheld. The latter happened to Wu Tang’s RZA and he’s firing back.
Island Def Jam is withholding more than $50,000 in royalties due to accusations that the 2010 RZA-produced song “Dark Fantasy” with Kanye West contains samples from Teichiku Entertainment that were not authorized. This week, RZA filed a lawsuit against JVC Kenwood Holdings (which includes Teichiku) in defense.
In the suit, RZA says he was informed that “Dark Fantasy” featured a sample of "Gincyo Watadori" originally performed by Meiko Kaji, and Teichiku wanted a cut of the royalties. Their claim led to Island Def Jam holding all royalty payments to RZA. Failure to agree on a settlement has led to RZA’s lawsuit.
Not only does he deny using that sample, the newly-minted film director says it was “technologically impossible” to sample the piano run in question. “The least talented person in the studio could have replayed it had anyone wished to do so," declares his legal team.
Kanye, the Beastie Boys, Madonna, and Jay-Z are also musicians who’re currently wrapped up in pending sampling copyright infringement suits.