Why Both Mac Miller & Lord Finesse Are Wrong…or Right? | @MacMiller @LordFinesseDITC
I rarely actually “write” blog posts. Most of the time, everything I share stands at the forefront over any opinion I care to share. That’s the way I like it. That’s the way I think it should be; content over opinion. This subject though, on the other hand, I have a few words about.
Most of us already know the story (if not, read the quote from MTV below), and let’s be honest, it’s not so different than many other up-and-coming artists. The difference here is that Mac Miller blew up around the same time this video went viral. This poses the question: should new artists even bother paying homage in the same fashion that Mac did?
Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about this incident. On one hand, yes, I suppose it technically is copyright infringement to jack a beat and put your own song to it. Even if he did “borrow” a beat and put it out for free, and it was blatantly obvious that he wasn’t “stealing” the beat, yeah, I suppose he did it without permission. Yes, he is known for that, but give me the ratio of rappers that HAVEN’T jacked a beat and flipped it in the light of “Paying Homage” rather than “I don’t want to pay for beats”? I often think of Phonte’s line on a mixtape he did back in the Little Brother era (paraphrased):
“How about you make a NEW song and make some NEW money.”
As a producer myself, I do see that very often. Your favorite up-and-coming rapper has done it at least once. He/she most likely has an entire mixtape out with “borrowed” beats. I promise you that. Being said though, this is a practice that has become accepted because everyone does it, and not because it is the right thing to do. You should have permission to do such things. It just so happens that we’re in an era where this is widely ignored and overlooked, and accepted as a right of passage.
Let’s look on the other side though, and think about the amount of listens
Is this a serious case of when paying homage goes bad, or an attempt to stop a cycle that got way out of control from the inception of the digital era? You know, jacking beats, not listing the track credits and such, and gaining positive results based upon someone else’s work. I think it’s both. I think that this has all gotten way out of control, there hasn’t been a good way to filter it, and now it’s a free-for-all. What can one really do, other than what Finesse is doing here, to grab people’s attention to the issue?
Laws aside, this is a bad look for Finesse, hip hop, and the “paying dues” model. These are just my opinions; take them how you will and move on.
In 2010, a little known Mac Miller released an ear-catching digital single called “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza,” a retread of Lord Finesse’s 1995 single “Hip 2 Da Game.” Now, two years later, the ’90s rap icon is looking for his just due by filing a $10 million lawsuit against Miller, Rostrum Records and DatPiff.com.
Courthouse News Service broke the news on Monday. “This is a case about a teenage rapper — Mac Miller — copying the music from a song written, produced and performed by Lord Finesse, a hip hop legend, changing the title and then distributing it under his own name in order to launch his music career,” the complaint received by CNS states.
Sample clearance issues have plagued hip-hop artists since Biz Markie’s 1991 track “Alone Again,” a song included on his I Need a Haircut retail LP, resulted in a landmark case brought by Gilbert O’Sullivan, whose “Alone Again (Naturally)” was sampled in the song.
But the case of Miller and Lord Finesse is different. Miller’s “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza,” though widely popular on the Internet, was distributed at no charge as part of his free Internet mixtape K.I.D.S. (Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Sh–). It’s a practice that has helped propel the careers of many of today’s top rap stars, including 50 Cent, Drake and Lil Wayne.
“In 2010, Mac Miller recorded himself rapping over Finesse’s music and renamed the song ‘Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza’ (‘The Kool Aid Song’),” the complaint reads.
On Tuesday Mac took to Twitter to set the record straight. “1. I made that record and video as nothing more than an 18 year old kid who wanted to rhyme and pay homage, no other intentions,” he tweeted. “2. Finesse and I spoke on the phone for an hour after he heard the record and cleared the air. We even planned to work on music together.”
Miller went on to tweet that Finesse, who based “Hip 2 Da Game” around a portion of Oscar Peterson’s 1971 jazz record “Dream of You,” never actually cleared the sample from the original composer. Still, Mac said that he has love for Finesse, citing the producer’s work with the late Big L, one of the youngster’s chief musical influences. “Lord Finesse, thank you for what u did for hip hop,” he wrote. “Thank you for bringing my favorite rapper into the game.”
“This case is about the overall picture. If you’re just looking at ‘one’ point … It’s about so much more #look deeper,” Finesse tweeted, suggesting that his gripe is about more than just Miller’s free mixtapes.
Before the music video for Mac’s “Kool Aid” was taken down, it had garnered more than 20 million views on YouTube. In his suit, Finesse is alleging copyright infringement, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, interference, deceptive trade practices and a host of other claims related to state copyright law. - MTV