J Dilla passed away almost 15 years ago but that isn’t stopping him from being sued. According to Rolling Stone, the late producer is facing a lawsuit over an allegedly unauthorized sample on his acclaimed album Donuts.
The song under scrutiny is “Workinonit,” which is the first full-length track on the LP. The cut samples British rock band 10cc’s “The Worst Band in the World” from the 1974 album Sheet Music.
Music Sales Corporation, a New York-based company in control of the administration rights for “The Worst Band in the World,” has filed the complaint. The company claims Dilla didn’t obtain permission to use the song on “Workinonit” despite legally sampling 10cc’s work on a different Donuts track, “Waves.”
Stones Throw Records, Universal Music and E.P.H.C.Y. Publishing are named as defendants in the Dilla suit. The complaint says publishing company Man-Ken Music, Ltd, which previously owned the rights to “The Worst Band in the World” before entering an agreement with Music Sales Corp, previously raised concerns about the alleged copyright infringement around 2014.
Music Sales Corp is seeking compensatory damages and all “Workinonit” profits from a minimum of the last three years. It also wants costs such as attorney fees to be covered.
Dilla, who suffered from lupus, died in February 2006. His work has been heavily admired by star producers such as Kanye West, Pharrell and Madlib as well as new school Hip Hop notables Joey Bada$$ and Kenny Beats.
Over the course of his storied career, Dilla a.k.a. Jay Dee produced songs for a multitude of legendary artists. A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Ghostface Killah, De La Soul and his own group Slum Village are just a few of the names featured in his discography.
Donuts, an instrumental LP, was released just a few days before his death. It’s been reissued on several occasions, including a 10th-anniversary edition in 2016. “Workinonit” was also licensed for use in the intro of Dave Chappelle’s Netflix specials Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin, which premiered on the streaming service in 2017.
Revisit Dilla’s “Workinonit” above and the entire Donuts LP below.