50 Cent and Fat Joe have been sued by a producer who claims they ripped him off with two of their biggest songs.
According to Music Business Worldwide, David W. Smith — an independent Hip Hop producer based in Maryland — filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the rappers on April 27.
Smith’s suit alleges 50’s 2005 hit “Candy Shop” and Terror Squad’s 2004 anthem “Lean Back” both stole elements from his song “WHACHACOM4?” which he released as a collaboration with rapper Moe Wet (real name Molik S. Hippolyte) in 2003.
The two tracks were among the biggest hits of the decade, separately topping the Billboard Hot 100. “Candy Shop” has since been certified 5x platinum by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), while “Lean Back” went gold.
The complaint details the alleged similarities between Smith’s “WHACHACOM4?” and 50 Cent and Fat Joe’s respective singles, including comparisons of musical notations and images of waveforms.
Fellow Terror Squad rapper Remy Ma and Scott Storch, who produced both “Candy Shop” and “Terror Squad,” are also named as defendants in the lawsuit. It argues the collective have “made millions of dollars from their exploitation.”
Smith suggests a connection between the songs through Storch, who he claims did business with the same New York City record pool, Spinners Unlimited Record Pool (S.U.R.E.), whose Top Upward Sizzlers (Prime Movers) and New & Hot S.U.R.E. Shots charts “WHACHACOM4?” saw success.
He says both he and Storch “received weekly communications as to the performance of releases on their respective labels.”
Interscope Records, Dr. Dre’s Aftermath and Eminem’s Shady Records, along with TVT Music and 50 Cent Music LLC, are also named in the suit as co-owners of the “Candy Shop” copyright.
Warner Chappell Music and Warner-Tamerlane, Remy Ma’s company Remynisce Music and Terror Squad Productions are listed as co-owners of the rights holders to “Lean Back.”
The suit additionally states that Smith registered a copyright for “WHACHACOM4?” on April 22, 2022, although it doesn’t elaborate on why the copyright was filed nearly 20 years after its release.
As compensation, Smith is seeking a percentage of the revenue made from “Candy Shop” and “Lean Back,” plus damages and legal fees.
Ironically, 50 Cent and Fat Joe were fierce rivals when their respective hits dropped, with the New York giants trading shots on wax and at awards shows.
The pair’s beef was inherited from 50’s bitter feud with Ja Rule, who Joe worked with on 2002’s “What’s Luv?” and 2004’s “New York” alongside Jadakiss.
While they eventually buried the hatchet at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards in the wake of the death of their mutual friend and business partner Chris Lighty, their rivalry came at a price for Joey Crack.
In his 2022 memoir The Book of Jose, the Bronx native revealed his feud with Fif — specifically their public spat at the 2005 MTV VMAs — cost him a $20 million endorsement deal with Air Jordan.
“Me and Michael Jordan are actual friends. I met with him six times going over designs for the Fat Joe Jordan. Some of those meetings were literally just me and him, brainstorming, bouncing ideas off each other,” he wrote. “But after the VMAs, Mike deaded the deal.
“‘You know I love you, Big Joe, but you’re too hot right now,’ he told me on a phone call. ‘I wanted to do it, but I’m not into all that rap beef. With all this controversy, we can’t do the sneaker anymore.’ That was it. I lost about $20 million by not getting that deal.”
He continued: “I lost out on other endorsements too. Promoters definitely didn’t book me and 50 Cent on the same shows. Everybody had to keep us separated. But as fate would have it, after the VMAs, we didn’t see each other again in person for almost a decade.”
50 Cent also recently reflected on their rift, telling Rolling Stone earlier this year that he regrets dragging Fat Joe into his war with Ja Rule.
“There’s an element, a part of our culture that I’m aware of it because I am it,” he said. “Your Lil Durks, your NBA YoungBoys, the whole surrounding cast of that … it almost splits our culture in half because when you cool with one, you can’t work with the other.
“I was using the same thinking in the very beginning of my career because it’s just the thinking you would use in the environment. If anybody went next to Ja Rule, I’d jump on the person who featured with them, anybody who was faintly near them, ’cause I put him on life support and you wanna go resuscitate him.
“So that energy, later you look at it and you go, ‘I was buggin.’”