As if the Notorious BIG didn’t already have enough problems, a judge recently ordered copies of his classic 1994 debut Ready to Die pulled – yanked – from record store shelves as part of a settlement in a sampling case.
It seems that one song from the album – the album’s title track, produced by the great but largely unheralded Easy Mo Bee – illegaly borrowed a bit from a 1971 Ohio Players song called “Singing in the Morning.”
The parties named in the suit, including Bad Boy Entertainment, Justin Combs Publishing, Bad Boy LLC, Universal Records, and Sean “P Diddy” Combs, were also ordered to pay $4.2 million in direct and punitive damages.
The copyright to the Ohio Players song, along with a gang of other old R&B records, is owned by a fellow named Armen Boladian, whose two companies, Bridgeport Music and Westbound Records, have built a cottage industry on suing record companies and individuals for illegal sampling.
XXL has audio of both of the compositions, so you can listen and decide for yourself which one deserves to be yanked from record store shelves.
The defendants – Diddy et al. – are planning to appeal the decision.
One wonders how long the album will be unavailable in stores, and whether or not it will be re-released without its title track. $4.2 million for one song that wasn’t even a single seems a bit much, no? It makes you wonder how much money is made from an album like Ready to Die.
You’ll notice that neither the Notorious BIG’s estate nor any other parties representing his interest (like his momma) were named in the suit. We can presume this is because Diddy and Universal Records still own all of Biggie’s publishing.
In fact, if it weren’t for Biggie’s publishing, it’s not likely Diddy would have a label deal with Warner Bros. I wrote about this recently at my own site.
Lil’ Cease and the Lox made an issue of this for a minute last year, while they were haggling Diddy to give them their own publishing back. Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, called Hot 97 and screamed on Lil’ Cease a bit for even bringing it up, but wouldn’t actually confirm whether or not she owned any of her son’s publishing.
I’ll take this case as proof she doesn’t.