Jay Z is ‘Big Pimpin’

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.

Source: http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/legal-and-management/6737505/jay-z-wins-copyright-trial-over-egyptian-big-pimpin


Music Video of the Week : Justin Timberlake’s ‘Tunnel Vision’

Music :

While this song is not the hit single of JT’s the 20/20 experience album, it definitely stands out as a quality track. It was written and produced by Timberlake, Timbaland, James Fauntleroy, and Jerome Harmon. It features audible content from Timbaland who lent his signature beat-making and beat-boxing skills for the creation of this track.

The instrumental strikes as quite sinister right from the start. It builds off an overdriven vocal sample, what sounds like a vacuous trumpet-like melodic line and a high pitched arpeggio. After a few bars they give into into a bass-heavy beat with clear-cut side stick hits and some of Timbaland’s infamous ad-libs and vocal scratch sounds. On the vocal front JT taps into both his lower and higher vocal ranges throughout and shows he is comfortable in either of the two, adding to the dramatic effect of the song.  His arpeggiated backing vocals echo the layered soundscape created by Timbaland. This indubitably allows them to feed off one another as far as creative techniques and arrangement go.

With regards to the lyrical content, JT talks about this ‘Tunnel Vision’ he has for his love interest, describing his infatuation in almost voyeuristic terms. His writing echoes his previous works in some ways; lyrical themes from ‘Cry Me a River’ or ‘My Love’ appear throughout this track.

Video :

The suave grey texture of the video matches the sinister vibe of the track. JT shows off his sweet moves that he is already quite known for and uses the syncopated beats to the advantage of his choreography. The ‘cool’ factor of the video is Timbaland appearance – or more accurately his mouth – beat-boxing along to the song. The more controversial element of the song comes in then. Timberlake decided to venture in the nude-art territory when he decided to have topless women feature in this music video. Not only are these women topless, but he dances fully clothed alongside them via projector montage. The video had to be taken off Youtube a few hours after its release and re-submitted with a content warning page to filter the traffic to the video. Now this may not be unpleasant to the majority of the male population viewing this video, however it feels a bit ‘déja-vu’ to have a playboy-looking type artist dancing alongside topless models.

Robin Thicke and Pharrell used this concept over the summer to release the video for their song ‘Blurred Lines’. It feels like the video to their song acts more as a sales tool than anything else though. The women casted for the part – very attractive albeit – are more there for show it feels. Thicke played off of the summer vibe and used this as a marketing technique; the ladies are walking around, topless, and randomly-timed hashtag words flash up on the screen in the hopes of brainwashing the audience. This is where JT differentiates his approach. The models are not striking random poses like they’re part of the furniture, they’re supplely dancing with a more ‘artsy’ feel to it. Kaleidoscopic patterns are projected overtop of them all the while and lyrics appear on the backdrop in a blended and non-aggressive, non-promotional way. Once again, the male population watching the video might not be complaining. But unfortunately, because of the length of the track the concept loses impact a good minute or two before the video ends.

Tunnel Vision :

Executive Producer: Jeff Nicholas
Produced by Jonathan Craven and Nathan Scherrer
Directed by Jonathan Craven, Simon McLoughlin and Jeff Nicholas for The Uprising Creative
Director Of Photography: Sing Howe Yam
Editor: Jacqueline London