Drake has reaffirmed victory in a lawsuit over sampling 1982’s “Jimmy Smith Rap” in his song “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2.” After originally winning the case in 2017, the OVO leader won yet again in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday (February 3).
The estate of Smith’s appeal was unsuccessful as a panel of judges agreed with the original ruling of fair use, declaring Drake’s usage of “Jimmy Smith Rap” to be transformative. The judgment also determined “Pound Cake,” which appeared on 2013’s Nothing Was The Same, didn’t “usurp demand” for Smith’s track or “otherwise cause a negative market effect.”
In a summary of the decision, the judges explained why Drake’s song was deemed to be transformative.
“The message of the ‘Jimmy Smith Rap’ is one about the supremacy of jazz to the
derogation of other types of music, which–unlike jazz–will not last,” the summary reads. “On the other hand, ‘Pound Cake’ sends a counter message–that it is not jazz music that reigns supreme, but rather all ‘real music,’ regardless of genre.”
The explanation continued, “Through both the alteration of the ‘Jimmy Smith Rap’ and the rest of the rap’s lyrics, ‘Pound Cake’ emphasizes that it is not the genre but the authenticity of the music that matters. In this manner, ‘Pound Cake’ criticizes the jazz-elitism that the ‘Jimmy Smith Rap’ espouses. By doing so, it uses the copyrighted work for “a purpose, or imbues it with a character, different from that for which it was created.'”