It’s been nearly two decades since Biz Markie’s landmark sample clearance case in 1991, and Hip Hop artists are still reeling in its wake. Now, Cunnin;ynguists producer Kno is latest beatsmith to feel the industry’s wrath, as the producer was served with a cease and desist order over his group’s album A Piece of Strange.

The QN5 producer received the cease and desist last year after the representative from an as-of-yet unidentified artist illegally sampled in one or more of the songs off the group’s ’06 album. According to, YouTube members’ comments about Kno’s use of samples may have inadvertently prompted the suit. Kno took to the QN5 message board to explain that although he understands sampling clearance laws, he’s willing to take the risk because of his love for the music.

“[A Piece of Strange] would have cost $3+ million  to clear all of the samples on it – but some people have told me it literally saved their lives,” he said. “Should it not exist? Should I now be lectured on legal morality by people with just as many skeletons in their closets and blunts in their ashtrays just because they want to defend their right to talk about samples on one of the biggest websites in the world?” (

He also added,  “The music I make infringes on copyrights. I am aware of this and have been aware of this, that is why I don’t stress getting rich off of it, I tell people to download it if they want to and I sink any money I do make back into making more records…I am not ‘blaming fans,’ I’m stating facts…public discussion of specific instances of copyright infringement in my work is making it impossible to even create the music period, even if I were to give it away for free. It would still end up on YouTube and I’d still get served by Google-searching lawyers and publishing houses who think they might be able to squeeze money out of me.” (

Although Kno’s comments about his future in music may appear dismal, the famed independent producer explained to aboveGround in a recent email that he will only quit making music if it is an absolute necessity. 

“I said, again, i[f] ‘X, Y and Z’ happens I won’t have any other choice,” he explained. “If THAT happens, then I will quit due to necessity. That hasn’t happened, so I am not quitting. I feel like the guy who makes a passing remark about a bad day at work only to have 10 of his co-workers call his boss jockeying for his ‘eminently opening position’. I get to work Monday and there’s a bunch of ‘We’ll Miss You, Bob!’ cards on my desk.” (

Despite Kno’s recent sampling issues, the Cunninlynguists are preparing to release their fifth album Oneirology on March 22 via QN5 Records. Kno also released his debut solo LP Death is Silent last year to critical acclaim.