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Soul Legend Syl Johnson Angry Over ‘Watch the Throne’ Sample

The Rolling Stone Blog

Soul legend Syl Johnson is upset that he has not received proper credit for a sample of his song "Different Strokes" on Jay-Z and Kanye West's collaborative album Watch the Throne. In a post on the Numero Group site, the label explains that "The Joy," a track on the record which was originally slated to appear as a bonus track on a scrapped deluxe edition of West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was credited to the label - who did not publish the song - rather than Johnson.

According to Numero Group, a non-binding clearance deal was arranged by email with Island Def Jam last year, but when the deluxe edition plans fell through, the label group stopped responding to emails and phone calls. Even though the song had not yet been commercially released, both Numero and Johnson considered legal action, which they ultimately decided against, reasoning that West would eventually need to clear something else from their catalog and could use this incident as leverage.

Now it looks like Johnson may pursue a lawsuit after all. At the end of the Numero Group post, the label says that the singer was "nearly in tears" on the phone discussing the matter. "Island Def Jam seems to think that Syl doesn't have any fight left in him. We're betting otherwise," the label wrote.

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Photo by Robin Little/Redferns

 

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