In my prior blog entry, I wrote about the current state of hip hop as well as hypothesized a return of the the genre’s golden days of the mid 90’s due to a recent merging between P Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment and industry giant, Epic Records. On October 21st, hip hop undoubtedly won again. After a week-long trial regarding a copyright infringement claim by the nephew of Egyptian composer, Baligh Hamdi, against hip hop giants Jay Z and Timbaland, the latter pair have come out victorious. The plaintiff, Osama Ahmed Fahmy, had claimed that a sample in Jay-Z’s 1999 single, “Big Pimpin'” used a sample of his uncle’s 1950’s ballad, “Khosara Khosara.”
Fahmy’s argument revolved around the notion that despite receiving $100,000 in an out of court settlement in 2001, “Big Pimpin'” violates his moral rights due to pairing vulgar language with his uncle’s music. What Fahmy did not realize going into last week’s court date was that this law, while completely valid within the realm of his native Egypt, can not be applied in the United States. To add insult to Fahmy’s injured claim, judge, Christina Snyder, told the jury that their decisions would not be necessary as she had already ruled Fahmy’s central argument moot, thus declaring Jay Z and Timbaland innocent.
The two will surely be pleased with decision but perhaps hip hop as a whole should be breathing a sigh of relief. In the wake of a 2014 decision to penalize Robin Thicke and Pharrell $5.3 million for their infringement of Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give Up, on their hit single, “Blurred Lines”, the lines between creativity and intellectual property theft have certainly become blurred. Who knows what small snippet could force your favorite rapper into utter bankruptcy? In any case, a resounding win for “Big Pimpin'” certainly sets a promising tone for the future of hip hop and its integral music making ingredient, sampling.