From sampling disputes to accusations of copyright infringement, many legal battles over the years have left some of hip-hop’s most popular songs with a tarnished legacy. Here are the top four of the most controversial hip-hop songs.
Hip-Hop has always been a genre filled with controversy, including issues surrounding credit and ownership of popular songs. SOHH takes a look back at four of the most controversial hip-hop songs that led to legal battles:
“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, embroiled in a copyright infringement dispute with Marvin Gaye’s estate. The family of the late soul singer claimed that “Blurred Lines” copied elements of Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”
After a lengthy legal battle, Thicke and Williams were ordered to pay $5.3 million in damages and 50% of future royalties from the song.
Another song that faced a similar dispute is “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj. The rapper sampled a portion of Tracy Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You” without permission, leading to a lawsuit.
The case was settled out of court, with Chapman reportedly receiving a six-figure sum from Minaj.
“All The Way Up” is a high-energy track that features prominent vocals from both artists. The song’s ownership dispute stems from a disagreement with producer Edsclusive, who claimed he produced its original version and was owed royalties.
However, the two Bronx rappers denied the claims, saying they purchased the rights to the song from another producer. The case was eventually settled out of court, with both parties agreeing to a confidential settlement.
In 2015, 50 Cent filed a lawsuit against Rick Ross for remixing “In Da Club” on his Renzel Remixes mixtape. 50 Cent argued that Ross had unlawfully used his voice and image in the remix without his permission, and he sought $2 million in damages.
Still, a judge dismissed the case, ruling that Ross’s remix was protected under the doctrine of fair use.
Fair use is a legal concept that allows for the limited use of copyrighted material without the copyright holder’s permission for purposes such as commentary, criticism, or education.