Legendary Chicago Singer Claims Kanye/Jay-Z Ripped Him Off | NBC Chicago

Legendary Chicago Singer Claims Kanye/Jay-Z Ripped Him Off

Vocal sample from Syl Johnson appears on "Watch the Throne"



    (Published Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011)

    Chicago soul singer Syl Johnson was among the millions of people checking out Kanye West and Jay-Z's recent album "Watch the Throne." But he was miffed by what he heard.

    Johnson claims one of the songs on the deluxe edition of the album, Kanye's "The Joy," uses vocals from his classic track "Different Strokes" without getting the proper clearance for the sample.

    According to a blog posting by The Numero Group -- a Chicago company that specializes in preserving and re-issuing old music, film and photography -- the process first started last summer when they were approached to get the sample cleared by Def Jam. The song was originally supposed to be used on the deluxe version Kanye's successful 2010 solo album "My Beautiful Twisted Fantasy."

    But the song was never released and no agreement was ever reached for use of the sample, according to Numero.

    Syl Johnson Performs "Different Strokes"

    [CHI] Syl Johnson Performs "Different Strokes"
    Singer/songwriter Syl Johnson grabs his guitar and performs a sample of "Different Strokes," which he says was used in Kanye's "The Joy" without proper clearance.
    (Published Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011)

    Fast forward to Monday night, when Numero officials received a tearful call from Johnson after he heard his vocal on the new song.

    Credits on the album inaccurately list The Numero Group as the publisher of the sampled song, and more importantly, Johnson isn't getting paid for the use of his vocals on the track.

    Numero officials say they haven't been able to get an answer from the sample clearing house.

      "Island Def Jam seems to think that Syl doesn't have any fight left in him. We're betting otherwise." -- The Numero Group

    Johnson also has another connection to Kanye. His daughter, Syleena Johnson, sang the hook on West's 2004 hit "All Falls Down."

    The Numero Group Tweet