The Outcome Of Tracy Chapman’s Lawsuit Against Nicki Minaj Could Change Rap Forever

Torry Threadcraft, writing for Okayplayer, quoting Nicki Minaj’s lawyer Eric George:

“In the process of creation, no one approaches the original songwriter for a license to experiment,” the court brief reads. “The musicians just experiment. If something works, and the recording artist wants to release the song commercially, then the record label, managers, and attorneys get involved and seek the required permission. If it is granted, the recording is commercially released. If permission is denied, the recording is discarded; no one is harmed; and the experimentation begins anew. Recording artists require this freedom to experiment, and rights holders appreciate the protocol as well.”

Sampling is such a staple of Hip-Hop and always has been. To potentially eliminate that from the genre would limit much of what it has been about. And, to be clear, this isn’t about stealing. It’s about taking a previous work and totally restructuring it into something new. The best Hip-Hop producers hear music differently than most average people. They are truly artists.

I get where Chapman’s team is coming from here, artists should get paid. But, I feel like this is overreach. If a track is ultimately discarded, then what’s the harm? Nobody is making money off of it. But this has been an age old argument within Hip-Hop for years. Remember C.L. Smooth on 1992’s “Straighten It Out”?