Blahz: All Samples Cleared

This New York vet just filed a lawsuit against Wyclef for jacking Blahzay Blahzay’s 1995 classic “Danger.” Where’s the beef?

The memorable refrain “When the East is in the house—Oh my God” still brings feelings of nostalgia to hip-hop heads reminiscing on the genre’s heyday. The year was 1995 when the Brooklyn-bred duo Blahzay Blahzay—made up of rapper Blahz (who was known as MC Out Loud at the time) and DJ/producer P.F. Cuttin’—put together the classic East Coast head-banger “Danger.” The track’s mark on hip-hop history is indelible, yet Blahz is claiming that Wyclef Jean is trying to erase the group from the history books. While ’Clef was recording his latest album, Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant, he lifted parts of the beat and the hook from “Danger” for his track “Welcome to the East.” The problem is, he never cleared the sample, and didn’t even credited Blahzay Blahzay. Now, Blahz is taking Wyclef and Sony to court for copyright infringement while he preps his own return to the rap game with a new untitled album. Hoping to enlist other artists who have suffered the same fate, Blahz is ready to fight the power.

Your classic track “Danger,” used some memorable samples. For those that don’t know, tell us how you went about clearing them.
The original samples come from a combination. The original record was from…Gwen McRae [“Rocking Chair”]. That’s the sample I used for the beat. As far as [the line], “When the east is in the house,” it’s a combination of Jeru, Q-Tip and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. As far as the sample clearance, I just took on the responsibility…well, they have companies that do sample clearance. You get a company, call your company and they handle the business side. Then, you contact whoever owns the publishing or owns the work and you just clear the sample. You give them what they want and you clear it. It’s a real simple process.

What was your opinion of Wyclef and his work before he reached out to you for his track “Welcome to the East?”
I was into it. I loved it. I liked the Fugees’ work. That in particular was like my favorite. On the first joint, he had a shout out to me on…I think “Cowboys” where he’s like, “When the East is in the house like Blahzay Blah.” [ED. NOTE: The MC who spit this line on “Cowboyz” was actually Young Zee from the Outsidaz]

What was your first contact with Wyclef?
He didn’t really reach out to me at first. It was a person that was working with Sony—I had worked with them in the past. It was a sample clearance company that I had worked with. I guess when they saw it was me, they contacted me because we had that relationship. So they called me, and let me know that Wyclef had my song for the album and that he wanted to know if he could clear it.

What happened next?
That was basically it. My lawyer drew up the contract and that was it. He gave it back to them and they sat with it. From that point, I didn’t really hear from the sample clearance company. So it took me a while to get in touch with the sample peoples. They kept telling me, “Wyclef’s on vacation; he’s out of town; we can’t reach him.”

Was that the last you heard from them?
Yeah, through tons of emails we were sending them, they [the sample clearance company] didn’t really respond; Sony didn’t respond either. No one was saying nothing.

What were your thoughts after you realized that “Welcome to the East” was going to be released without being cleared?
It was kind of crazy. Before I knew it was on the album, I saw a big campaign on the radio where he had Uncle Murda, Sizzla and I’m on the track, like working it on radio. But they said it wasn’t the album version. I didn’t really know he felt that strong about it.

So when the song hit radio, did you try to reach out to Wyclef and his people?
Oh yeah. That was right before December, right before the album dropped. I reached out to him real crazy. I reached out to the sample clearance company, couldn’t get them to respond to my emails. I saw that they had it up for sale on downloads online, selling the ringtones and we reached out and still couldn’t get a response from nobody. So at that point my lawyer sent the record company and sample clearance company a cease and desist letter. I think we got one email from the sample clearance company that made it seem like it was a joke, like, “Why you do that?” Then, the album drops December 4th, even after we sent the cease and desist letter. So we still didn’t have no agreement, no payment or nothing. All we were doing, at that point was screaming. We couldn’t get a real answer as to what was being done to clear the sample.

What made you finally file the suit against Wyclef and Sony?
When I didn’t see no credit on the album that was it to me. It was crazy because I was doing my own new lyrics to the track. I had gotten Red Café. I was putting Uncle Murda on it and we had already recorded the song. I put that to the side for Wyclef’s situation, because I thought it was going to be big. At the time, I was having a lot of problems in my family. My uncle had cancer and it was a monetary thing. I was going to get some money from Wyclef, help my family, help my uncle out. So it took a lot for me to put my project on the side and to move with Wyclef and make it pop, do remixes with him, get on the song, whatever I can do. I didn’t get that in response from him. So I guess he felt different. I guess he had his own agenda.

So, he took a potentially big track and some funds…
I gave it to him. I’m not going to say he took it. I gave him the opportunity to do it. You know, it was like, I need the money right now. I just found out my uncle has cancer, so let’s do it. Let’s make it happen. I need that money. I could do a lot with that. So when all of this is going down, what was so significant, when I look at it in hindsight, is that in December my uncle passed and I still didn’t hear nothing from Wyclef. So, that kind of really made me switch gears. That’s when I was like, “Nah, you can’t put out the record. I ain’t get paid. Y’all running promotions and y’all didn’t go through the paperwork. Y’all didn’t send us a check.” My whole initiative to do the deal was my uncle, and he passed. So at that point, I was tight.

Did you take Wyclef’s actions as disrespectful?
Ah man, I felt so, so disrespected by that and when he did the credits on the album, his peoples playing the tambourines on a song, he shouted them out and gave them credit on the album. The people that are doing minor stuff, he shouted them out and gave them their credit due. But he didn’t give any credit to my work and that’s what’s got me pissed.

While all of this is going down, did you ever hear from Wyclef, personally?
Nah, I never heard back from the company, his manager or nothing. It wasn’t until Wendy [Williams] heard what was going on and she got me to come up there and talk about it. When I spoke about it on the show, Wyclef called me that night, and this is in January. He said he ain’t know what was going on and I was like, “You didn’t credit me on the album.” I’m like, “You knew what was going on, that was stuff you handled, and if you taking other people’s work, you gotta handle the business. You a producer yourself.” And that’s what I think it was. When you’re a producer and you’re an artist, you want to…take the credit for the work, you kind of want to rearrange history. The production you take from, you really not trying to credit that. But, anybody who heard the record or anybody who does the write-ups online, they’re like, “Oh, he took Blahzay Blahzay’s record ‘When the East is in the House.’”

So when you all spoke on the phone, you never came to some type of agreement?
No, it was a really short conversation on the phone. I was tight at that point and I really didn’t have much to say to him. It was six months later from a contract being drawn up…six months later and they got the record out promoting it on the radio.

What do you hope to accomplish by taking him to court?
What I really want to be known here is that if you own your work, you have a voice and you don’t have to take that from these major labels, the major artists. It happens so much. What really got me charged is just to see the struggle so many people go through. It happens to so many artists, like the Beatnuts. They reached out to me. They have a record [that was sampled by Jennifer Lopez’s] “Jenny from the Block” and I heard the record remade so I’m like, “They cleared that record with the Beatnuts and they’re giving the Beatnuts props? That’s what’s up.” But, I was so shocked to find out that they didn’t even call the Beatnuts. They couldn’t even say nothing. They just had to deal with that.

What kind of advice would you give to someone else who feels their work has been stolen in a similar way?
The best advice I can give them is, try to get your voice heard, man. Basically, if I can be a voice for you, get in touch with me. I’m real charged on this. “Danger” is my work. That’s an East New York anthem. That a…religious record in East New York. That kind of like when Dr. Dre sampled some Indian religious music and the Indian community got real tight. They were mad because it was some religious music that he sampled and he sampled it and used it however he wanted to use it but it meant a lot to other people. So that’s what got me fumed. My music means a lot to East New York, Brooklyn, where I’m from. So I’m ready to start a whole campaign. We’re getting together, organizing the whole man against the machine, and we’re going to try and help you out and try to be a voice for the artist that has no voice.

Have you heard anything from Wyclef or Sony’s legal team since filing suit?

Nah, that’s the business of Sony. They did it with Lil Flip and the Pac Man beat [“Game Over”]. They snatched that from whoever and they just put it out and didn’t give a shit until they went to court. And that situation hurts the artist, because Lil Flip can’t make music with Sony no more because he has that debt. That’s a good artist not making music no more. And as the game keeps going on and the music business becomes smaller, it’s not as lucrative for as many people. So that type of infringement has to stop because it’s going to mess up the talent.

What do you think this says about the state of hip-hop in general?
I think that’s what the world hates about New York rappers. They think we’re too arrogant. We’re too much like, “Fuck you and just be happy to be down.” That has to change. It’s a global market for artists and we can all make money all over the world, but we can’t be happy because we hate on each other. That’s how we operate. We don’t want to work with each other properly and we look down on other rappers. We’re too arrogant with it.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/sdubb SDUB-google-me

    Do ya thing dog and fuck Wyclef for that bull shit. I remember when that shit came out “When the East is in the HOUSE oh my god DANGER”. I was like yo I’m from the east and everyone on the eastcost felt like that record defined us especially with the west vs east shit going on. I’m not even from NY and I feel like it’s my anthem. I be stuntin to that shit out here on the west coast hard. Mexicans and Nigga be hating but like Bigge said you know you love it. Get ya paper Blahz and good looking on helping other artist out, even if it is a way to generate intrest for yourself (LMAO). Blahz says to old school group – “I’ll get you that guap if you pay me a small fee to middle that for you.

  • dr. kronick

    Man Wyclef be making them wack beats anyways. His stuff on TI CD is gay, i cant even understand why he has been gettin so much pub lately with his washed up self. (i havent heard the new carnival tho, i will say)

    Thats too foul how he is snatching blahzays work. And lil flip aint tight really but Sony messed up for that pac man bizz. That ish was wrong……..that is was really wrong man lol

  • http://www.sp1200.net Mirked

    yea i was rockin that joint to back in the days.but we dont hate here on the west like the east coast niggas be hating on us..but n.e. ways get yo money nigga

    http://www.sp1200.net

  • http://www.myspace.com/larrybrite Larry Brite

    I bought that single here in the Bay over 10 years ago!!! Crazy how time moves

  • maniac

    I said it before …years ago, the group blahzay blahzay worked with a french hip hop group ( ” triptik” ) …Blahzay blah stole a beat from a french producer and take it back to new york…true story ……now he’s here crying over royalties ? karma is a bitch ahahahaha…….yo i ain’t no hater , just a hip hop lover…….PEACE

  • Pingback: XXLmag.com | Hip-Hop On A Higher Level | » Blahz vs. Wyclef

  • http://www.picturemedia.co.za I RUN THIS…

    So SONY hasnt paid da BEATNUTZ 4 J-Lo’s “JENNY 4ROM DA BLOCK” beat..?
    Datz kinda fuckd up, i wonda how dey got away wit it…did dey perhapz get sum1 to replay all da melodies enden put a lil by line onda sleeve say “CONTAINS REPLAYD INTERPOLATION FROM (HOOKZ IN HERE) BY THE BEATNUTZ”…man datz juz rong..

    Clearly SONY haz a culture of screwing artists, en 4dat reason i suport BLAZ..

    Sum1 needs to start a “BOYCOTT SONY PRODUCTS” campaign en il glady suport it..

  • http://www.audioliquor.com challz

    When the East is in the house!!! That joint still gets the club open….that joint will forever rock. Niggggas need to pay each other and stand together instead of this bulsht.

  • THAT DUDE

    Wyclef wrong for that shit.He play guitar and he gotta go around taking people’s work without giving them credit.

    I don’t know if Blahz can make it with the rhyme’s but that ain’t the issue.He can produce or some shit.

    EAST NEW YORK!!!
    EAST NEW YORK!!
    EAST NEW YORK!

  • odagiant

    here

  • VLanda

    This needs to stop, artist talent and work deserves more respect and honor.
    Wyclef is known for being involved in this type of work. Wyclef Jean produced “Hips Don’t Lie” with Latin Colombian singer, Shakira, in which the beginning and ending of the song was taken from Latin singer, Jerry Rivera. His song, ” Amores como el nuestro” was released in 1993. Shakira and Wyclef Jean did not get permission from Jerry Rivera’s producer or arranger to use the musical work.
    This is not a good business for the music indusrty.

  • Philly Smalls

    Seriously, Beatnuts and Blahz sampled other people to make tracks, then someone comes and essentially uses the samples they made..? Right. Shouldn’t the credit go to the original composers. If Blahzay Blahzay sampled Gwen McCrae and I use the same sample in a similar sounding song, not that I would, but why the fuck would I pay Blahz if I’m sampling Rocking Chair?
    I’m not trying to be a dick, I know exactly how Blahz feels and I sympathize but you can’t claim ownership of a sample.

    • babyroc

      Philly small if want your saying is true do you think grow ass adult lawyer would be wasting there time .1 even trying to clearing the sample in the first place 2. tie up the court system with a bullshit claim.n 3 and 4 for is to long to write but thats why i like what blahz is doing cause its going to educate yall lames.you cant sample nothing of nobody record without clearing it. an whats crazy in this case he did more then sample i hope blaz now that. He took the whole likeness of his record thats a nono a federal crime

  • ILOVEREALHIPHOP

    WYCLEF SHOULD HAVE REALLY TOOK RESPONSIBILTY AND JUST PAYED UP WHAT WAS OWED AND IT WOULD HAVE NEVER WENT THIS FAR.

  • dark kent

    so wait… am i 2 understand that blahz paid 4 the gwen mcrae sample & the jeru sample?.. if he did, then he has a case…

  • yadon’tknow

    That’s a crybaby and a thief! Don’t blame Wyclef when you did the excat same thing.
    This beat was first stolen by Blahzay from a french group called Triptik, ten years ago or so.

    This one made me laught. This ain’t your beat dude…
    Sorry everybody, know your history.

  • http://www.myspace.com/micgeronimothenatural Mic Geronimo

    I been hearing about this my dude… I knew it was gonna come to a head. That’s how these niggas at these majors do it. But like your man said, it’s a different climate in the game now, an artists are starting to have more of a voice… Watch… Blahz gonna stay on them, and they’re gonna have to settle… Like dude said though, every artists gotta start to stand up for themselves… Get your shit right Blahz… You know what’s good….

  • http://pimp.pollard@hotmail.com pimp p

    thats weak clef

  • doctor69

    umm mic gerinomo you still alive hahah hno but shout to my dude blazah blazah he repped eny/bville and put alot dudes on and still came to help out his block even though the label samples where raping him fuck sony and clef if he acting greazey there nyc stand up holla at your folk 718

  • truth808

    blahz is ignortant. wyclef just resampled the same shit he did (gwen mcrae, qtip, jeru, etc) this way he didnt have to pay blahz. you dont own the sample just cause you sampled it first. wyclef just cut out the middle man and sampled/paid the original cats

  • Cide

    Ya’ll are dumb saying Wyclef just sampled the same song. Just because you have tomato, sauce, cheese and flour doesn’t make it pizza. The same ingredients don’t guarantee the same results. The end result was NEW intellectual propperty. If anything, Gwen McRae should be getting a percentage of what Blahzy gets from Clef.

    Clef you’s a cheap faggit. Pay them what you owe them.

  • http://www.lolifes1988.com Rack-Lo

    real shit… He’s right, that song is a ENY anthem. When The East is in the house”, Oh My God..

    I listen to this song everyday.. Pf Cuttin, is the man.. WE need more hip hop like this..

    Wyclef, I thought you was a thorough dude. I didn’t expect that from you!! I thought you loved hip hop culture..

    lolife4life!!
    Rack-Lo