Pete Rock Addresses Syl Johnson Lawsuit Over Jay-Z & Kanye West's "The Joy"

UPDATE: Pete Rock says the sample in question was added after he helmed the beat.

Veteran soul singer Syl Johnson recently came upon Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “The Joy,” included on the deluxe edition of Watch the Throne, but was surprised to hear an uncleared sample from his song “Different Strokes” used on the track.

According to an official statement from Numero Group, Island Def Jam originally contacted the label to clear the sample for a deluxe version of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. But after the deluxe version failed to surface, Johnson was shocked to see the song on WTT and the wrong copyright holders credited in the liner notes.

After Numero Group tweeted earlier today suggesting that a lawsuit was brewing, they issued a statement on their website. Read the full letter below.

Hey @kanyewest & @JayZ, thanks for illegally sampling Syl Johnson on "The Joy" and then crediting us(?). Have your lawyers call our lawyer.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

It’s been almost twenty years since Cypress Hill issued their Black Sunday LP, a great record but not lacking in uncleared samples. One of those was for Syl Johnson’s “Is It Because I’m Black.” Two decades and several lawsuits later, Syl Johnson is a veteran of copyright infringement cases, and has done very well for himself clearing samples from his fertile catalog (we’re glad to say we’ve helped him with a few) for use in numerous tracks. He’s been amply paid, as he is quick to boast in his concerts, by acts like Wu-Tang Clan, Kid Rock, and Michael Jackson. Other performers… have not been so respectful.

Last summer we took a call from Syl wondering if we knew anything about his vocal appearing in Kanye West’s “The Joy,” which had been making the rounds on the internet via Kanye’s “Good Fridays” series. We approached the sampling house clearing the record (whom we’ve worked with on several projects) about getting it cleared. They weren’t sure what was happening with the track, but it was rumored to be included on a deluxe version of his upcoming album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. About three weeks before MBDTF was to be released, we got a frantic email requesting the immediate clearance of the track. After a little negotiating, we came to a price and a verbal agreement (one that is completely standard.) Paperwork to confirm all of this was to arrive for counter signature. Weeks passed. Then months. No deluxe version appeared in the market place, and our emails and phone calls to Def Jam’s business affairs department went unanswered. We spent the better part of five months trying to get paid, and finally handed it to our lawyer who recommended not pursuing legal action as the song wasn’t actually being sold. Syl could have filed a more complex suit involving the use of his voice to promote the #1 album, but decided against it. Eventually Kanye was going to want to clear some other part of our catalog, and we’d get Syl his money with leverage. With only a non-binding email to solidify the terms, we began the arduous process of having the song removed from money making channels like You Tube, for which Syl was seeing nothing. We thought the song was dead and moved on. It happens all the time.

Late last night, we received a phone call from Syl—who was nearly in tears—asking if we knew why The Numero Group appeared in the credits to a new Kanye West/Jay Z album called Watch The Throne. We had no idea. The credits misidentify Numero as the publisher of the sampled song (“Different Strokes”), which of course we are not, and any routine search of the BMI database would show otherwise. Wondering why we weren’t consulted on this new use, and baffled why we appear in the credits, for which we never asked, we contacted the sample clearance house. Even they cannot get a response from their own clients. Island Def Jam seems to think that Syl doesn’t have any fight left in him. We’re betting otherwise.

[August 23]

UPDATE: Pete Rock took to Twitter to address Syl Johnson's lawsuit over an uncleared sample used in "The Joy." The producer explains that the sample was added after he helmed the cut and that he would have cleared the sample.

just to clear the air about WTT,i never sampled that syl johnson record,if u sample syl u gotta show him sum respect and clear the sample.
Oct 15 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

batesbennyBates Benny
in reply to @batesbenny

@batesbenny that they thought they can get away with it but syl is still around,and he's doing well.
Oct 15 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

in reply to @BClinical79

@BClinical79 curtis was cleared,wasnt in the plan for me to put that syl joint in there.
Oct 15 via web Favorite Retweet Reply


TroyorkF_______ Francis
in reply to @Troyork

@Troyork ssshhhhhhh lol. naw cuz i didnt use that sample
Oct 15 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

RELATED: Kanye, Common, Method Man Sued For Sample

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  • lol

    the sampling sounds way better then theo original. u lucky mr sly u lucky

  • totheface

    Funny how the sly niga shows outa nowhere, this niga is like 80 years old, prolly broke as hell n had one of his nephews showing him the new watch the throne, and jumped up to find a way to get that money back, i aint gon knock your hustle. do what u do . but man u should be thankful that they sampled your beat out of all beat, yea a lil credit woulda been good, but consider your self lucky they kind of revived your ass in a way. so relax your bum cheeks old man.. cause you know that they got the best lawyers out there, you dont wana loose more of your money do you know..

  • georgiiaboii

    It's a little something called a publicity stunt.This guy is known for slapping cats with the lawsuit so Jay an Ye no this will get people talking about the album.So many weak-minded people to fall for it.


    Ugghh copyright laws...

  • Copyright criminal

    these old ass dudes should just be happy that a track got sampled, otherwise, they would be long forgotten

    • agent B

      @copyright criminal true dat,but if it was ur music what would u do if cats sampled ur shit w/o permission?? Be honest,in this day and time u cant blame nobody for wanting their money homie. Old or young,if its ur music u wrote and produced i think u would want ur money too. Its about respect,people lack respect when talking about a vet like syl johnson.

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only one who has noticed that people just throw "Stan" around for anybody who makes a comment in favor for an artist? Another word that has lost meaning due to overuse. I saw a comment below that called someone a "stan" for making a comment about syl johnson's music. How does that make sense?

  • Truthfully

    Honestly The Song Would Sound So Much Better Without That Damn Grunt Noise Anyway , and Is It Just Me Or Is Pete Rock Dry Snitchin' ? -_-

    • Beatz Grymm

      I called clearing your name!

    • agent b

      how is pete rock dry snitching,he's clearing the air cuz its on his beat. From my understanding pete had a piano riff in it that was actually fly,but was taken out of the track and replaced by the different strokes record. I dont understand the game,WTF?? Its also in the ghostface record pete produced "How ya like me baby" but again,pete isnt the culprate who put the sample in that song either. Seems like pete is just trying to clear his name and lettin folks know it wasnt him,i beleive him.

  • saint

    "Sylwho was nearly in tears" really? but seriously, they should have known that Syl was gonna act.

  • Anonymous

    How you gonna talk reckless when someone is literally making money off your shit? Whether its a grunt a lyric or a fucking whatever its your shit they're using it and you not even getting so much as a phone call? Ya'll need ta back up and make sense. Use his grunt and pay him to sound classic or make your own. Conversation done.

  • Anonymous

    whats funny is that its just the sample of the guy shouting.

    • Anonymous

      To fam with the ROLEX comment...idk what ROLEX you rocking for 2 racks? You might need to go get that inspected, something tells me it ain't official fam

  • Severe Thebeneficent

    its funny reading comments from microwave brained "fans" dont know shit but you got a heavy opinion on the topic... and LOL at the dude talkin about sampling is easy! nah taking stock .wav files & an cheesy 808 drum kit and sequencing it together calling it beats is EASY big mouth just turn on the radio smh...sampling is the back bone and what constitutes hip hop as an actual respectable art form...thats also why you new cats avoid it so much cause you cant fuckin do it...

    • agent b

      EXACTLY!!!!! bum ass new rappers,they all suck!! And none of deez new producers is fuckin with pete rock yo,they not cut from dat man's cloth. Bum ass rap's new generation,fuck dem gay ass new niggas,they gay for dat paper lmao! WTF is this world coming too?? Weak minded mafuckas!!

    • LOL @ these comments

      What you doing brand new? Them drum kits and syncs BEEN used already! LOL! Fall back and take that cheap Rolex with you! My girl's Omega cost more than that! LOL!

    • Gunta da Don

      u old ass hip hop niggas quit talkin hatred on public nigga. we r doin sumthin brand new like dis $2,000 ROLEX on my wrist nigga. go get some spray cans and graffiti all ova yo shitty apartments like Indian workers paintin ma CRIB on the EASTSIDE

    • Anonymous

      TRUTH. That and the way dudes be sampling shit is way off. Sample selections have to be on point aswell. The 808 drums and synthesizer style had become a plague to modern hip hop. Boi 1da, Bangladesh, and Lex Luger are at the helm of the virus, the rest just follow. Sampling is the key to some of the greatest hip hop of all time. I actually cannot name a hip hop classic that contained no samples in it. And Wiz Khalifas Black and Yellow does not count, Its a bloody electro pop tune.

  • LOL @ these comments

    I can tell you kids get bullied daily! LOL! Syl will get paid for this, it's no secret he did the original. Probably some knucklehead who clears the samples didn't do the proper paperwork and cleared the BREAKBEAT! LOL!

  • Arii Price

    They'll get their little sum of money. They're entitled to it. Trust me Jay and Kanye probably couldn't care less. It's really just a check.

    • Leblacketlaplume

      In this video Pete Rock talks about creating "The Joy"

  • Jay-Z

    What could you do to me? It's not new to me Sue me; fuck you - what's a couple dollars to me? HAHAHAHA!!! HOVI BABY!!!

  • JacksonC

    All that sampling is a touchy subject. Imagine people would fire off law suits left and right during the time when LPs like Pauls Boutique or 3 Feet High And Rising were made...those would have been impossible to pull off. The whole legal problem isn't really in an artists favor but then again, how would you guys feel if someone ran with your work and made $$? You wouldn't be happy, I guess.

  • dub sax

    @jay sampling is part of the hip hop culture man, kanye has always sampled heavy

  • Anonymous

    how you gonna cry over a sample being used

  • anonymous

  • zrich

    I'll believe a lawsuit is coming when Syl Johnson actually says it. Did no one else pick up that this Numero Group is not a representative of Johnson?

  • J

    That's what bitches do, they sue people whenever it's humanly possible

    • Anonymous

      and only a little boy like Bart will call someone gay because they can't respond with any facts about the subject.

    • Anonymous

      there aint any excuses for artists with the money of Kanye and Jay not to pay to use the work that other artists have created.

  • Jaydoubl

    WTF happened to creativity?? the day Kanye makes a top album without sampling all thru wud be interesting. Sampling is good, but easy. If you make beats, you know youonly needed 8 trax if that for Otis. Don't claim you are the most creative person on earth and 90% of your trax are samples... Na. Thats where they lose me.

    • Samplin Joe

      Sampling is EASY?? Fuck outta here son, Sampling is an artform, one that these new jacks think is easy. Try chopping a sample up to create a different melody faggot, bet you can't do that...

    • Asafo

      If thats your oopinion you obviously know NOTHING about sampling. U telling me Pete Rock is not creative? It takes ALOT of creativity to sample a song the RIGHT way. Which is why Ye's beats are so timeless so are 9th's....they know how to pick the right sample and place them where in the song. U have to know music and be creative to be a good sampling producer.

    • Keace

      Samples are creative if you know what to do with them. I get offended when people say sampling is not creative HIP HOP IS BUILT ON SAMPLING.

  • Onaje Jordan

    Johnson is a legend respect due, but for ugh, come on dude. Pete rock shoild have just did that sound his self and put some effects on it.

  • MP

    It's weird that Pete Rock's name isn't mentioned at all in this suit when he made the beat....that's kinda shady imo....

  • Barisua Kenneth Ngbor

    Oh....I meant without samples !

  • Barisua Kenneth Ngbor

    Kanye's beat sucks with sample !

  • Rich Britton

    wait I thought they sampled a Curtis Mayfield song? And who cares she'll get her money from Jay and Ye. Like they care.

    • Anonymous

      lol @ "she'll get her money"....smh....But it is weird that Pete name not in the law suit, they may not make it through the courts with just the rappers on the suit, makes it look less credible.

    • bloody bastard

      Um, Syl Johnson is a guy....look him up! He's still touring and recording and is dope, he should get paid!

  • Anonymous

    Sad to, that was the only good track on the album.. eek.

  • Anonymous

    what's with the "only fags post under anonymous" bullshit? is making up a fake name really much more brave? Am i suppose to put my last name my address and the hospital i was born in in my info? What's your logic? Unless your real name "realniggasmultiply45" I dont see how that makes you less of a faggot than posting under anonymous.

  • That Nigga In His Basement

    You blind misinformed SHEEP! Can't anyone see this is merely a distraction that the industry and the secret higher class pro ball playing demon worshipping cult of elites known as Wutagreedimuhfuka are using to keep you from knowing the TRUTH?! They are hiding how Shawn Carter and Kanye West are just puppets. Tools in the elites' plot of evil! The signs are so OBVIOUS. First, notice how the background of Numerogroup's twitter says "Illinois Room Circle Center." Mr. West just so happens to be from Illinois. Not only that but I got a fucked up uncle from Illinois. I swear this man would only visit to ask for money and hit on my sister. I think he's doin 25 to life now after murdering some fiend out in Chicago. Doesn't anyone see the CONNECTION?! MURDER to Excellence? This is no coincidence. These two worthless puppets disguised as entertainers are only using this story to steal your souls so they may be fed to their demon unicorn god of evil, Nikuhstayhatinohnyenjay! Seek the truth you PAWNS! WAKE UP!

    • Anonymous

      fam you need to get the youtube channel and blog was hilarious(serious)...I would watch your shit, sound lie a funny dude.

    • Anonymous

      Sarcasm is not easily detected in an e-mail you jackass. Sarcasm is detected by reading a person's facial features and tone of voice!

    • MP

      This is hilarious! I always find these funny lmao! If you have blog, let us know. I'd crack up laughing at this shit on my lunch break...

    • Anonymous

      wow its 2011 and people still cant detect sarcasm? that shit's scary. you must live in a fucking box.

    • Bart Masterson Jr #GoRedsox

      @Anonymous Proving my theory that only retards and fags post under 'Anonymous'. He is clearly joking dumbass. Hence ... THE NAME. He's mocking the people who get on here & claim that Jay-Z and Kanye West are the illuminati. Brighten up kid.

    • Anonymous

      U officially have claimed the retarded comment of the week award...

  • thought dog

    If you don't know who Syl Johson is then walk to the closest mirror and slap yourself.

  • Jesus

    i cant find the album anywhere. its all sold out at F.Y.E and Best Buy. ffs. i think ima sue them for not supplying me

    • Max-El Saffold

      You two = Hilarious.

    • Jesus

      yeah? and didnt i get worshipped and dumb people still hoping for my "return" iv been here since the nineties. i tryd to reveal myself as Jesus Christ and everyone said "bullshit" i turned water into wine. and wine into vodka. and they said "booo i saw that on Mindfreak last week" soo fuck it

    • Pontius Pilate

      Way ahead of u bro...And hey, didn't I crucify ur ass?

  • Bart Masterson Jr #GoRedsox

    Sue these diva rappers for every fucking dime. Sue Jay-Z for $600 million and Kanye for $100 million. Take these spoiled niggas to the cleaners. R.I.P. to both their careers.

  • Anonymous

    I dont even like jayz but this is a bitch move from a greedy, broke old faggot. Its always the broke ones who sue over stupid shit like this. I don't even hear the fucking sample! All I hear is "the makings of you" Curtis mayfield sample.... Those dudes didn't even have to credit your old ass! Be glad your name is in the most popular artists in the games album. Keeping your name alive off the love. Don't be fucking greedy! Oh, And this dude called these guys in tears over this????? Is he that money hungry??? I would knock this fucking old mans teeth out. I can't believe this shit...

    • thought dog

      The parents of the original poster should've beat them more often.

    • Anonymous

      its hell adesperate kanye didnt even have to credit dude and 1000000 bucks says he would have never even recognized his own sample. thats how small the shit is. we know its your song and i respect that but this dude sounds desperate as hell.

    • Anonymous

      legally he got a case but still that shit is petty a hell. "uugggh". why not just come to an agreement out of court or talk to them respectfully. all this drama over a grunt. its legal but its desperate

    • Anonymous

      That's all they fucking sampled off the song??? The "ugh" part??? I thought they had taken actual lyrics or part of the beat or something. This proves that this old ass nigga is greedy. When I hear that shit I think of the Curtis sample, which is the meat of the fucking song, not this faggot nigga saying ugh. Curtis mayfield is the only nigga That would have got paid if I made that shit. Who the fuck is sly Johnson anyway??? Some nigga from the 70s who didn't make it. None of his songs were popping in that era and no one gives a fuck about him. Broke mfs will sue for any thing though I swear. Yall need to stop riding and wake the fuck up. Pete rock on sampled "ugh" and y'all are acting like he stole his whole shit.

    • Travis Clinton

      dog you sounding like arrogant prick !!!! do your homework son goto you tube and type ssyl johnson's song" different strokes" as you will see, the 1st 8 bars in syl's song are sampled and is in the jay / ye song. the lil UGGH part.

    • Anonymous

      I'm all for sampling, it's one of the great things about hip-hop, it's in the DNA. But someone in Jay-Z or Kanye should know to clear the sample. Kanye being someone who seems to appreciate the artist he samples should have the respect to give them proper credit, and them $$'s

    • Anonymous

      Shut Up! How u gonna call someone greedy when someone else uses their property. You must not have ISH to your name in life

  • Get 'em Pops

    Syl Johnson's daughter Syleena Johnson was on two tracks with Kanye ("All Falls Down" and "Down & Out" w/ Cam'ron. Plus his son is Chad Ochocinco (Johnson). He's not exactly eating Ramen noodles every night haha

    • Bart Masterson Jr #GoRedsox

      You just sat there and made all that shit up. Smh. You niggas have no shame.

    • joem

      Where the hell did you get "chad ochocinco" is the son of Syl Johnson? I've never heard that shit before.. P.S. Chad Johnson is from Miami fool..

  • Ikem

    Damn..this Syl guy is a savage. Wait till Kanye West and Jay Z to start making money off of his shit (The Joy WAS released as a free-downloadable G.O.O.D Friday song).

  • jay-z

    he will go away for a mil just like the rest thats maybach cop and crash money hovaaa!!!

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