Wyclef Jean Hit With Copyright Suit
The Grammy award-winning MC, along with Sony BMG, is being sued by New York rapper MC Blahz (born Martell Ellis) who claims that Wyclef unlawfully sampled the 1996 hit song "Danger" by his group Blahzay Blahzay. The rapper recently made his claims public during an appearance on "The Wendy Williams Show," in which he said that his lawyers had filed the suit and that both parties would be receiving litigation papers this week.
"Being a part of the music industry over the past decade has been a rewarding experience, but I've also witnessed, first-hand, artists such as myself getting taken advantage of and legally violated by record labels and 'big name' artists alike, not to mention commercial artists constantly stealing from the underground," said Ellis via a statement. "A message has to be delivered to the music industry that these unjust common business practices can't be ignored or swept under the rug anymore."
Ellis says he was contacted by representatives for Wyclef about sampling the song in June of last year and that he put off plans to release an updated version of "Danger" in order to accommodate Clef. He contends that he agreed to the deal in order to help pay for medical bills incurred by a sick uncle and that the passing of his uncle last month has only added insult to injury.
The suit claims that the song was illegally sampled on the track "Welcome To The East" which features reggae artist Sizzla and guest violin by Minister Louis Farrakhan, off of Wyclef's latest LP Carnival 2: Memoirs Of An Immigrant. While both Sizzla and Farrakhan are given proper credit on the song, Ellis' name is nowhere to be found in the credits for the album.
"After I went on Wendy Williams last week, Wyclef called me and said that he's a good dude and that he didn't know," he said. "He told Wendy Williams the same thing when she asked him about the situation. However, he never once apologized to me personally, or on-air. But as a business man, he should be more knowledgeable with his business dealings."
"I don't have anything against Wyclef, I like his music, I loved the Fugees, but it's his machine that's running wild," he continued. "Unfortunately, for him he has to deal with his responsibilities as a man, or 'hip-hop icon,' to fix the errors made by his machine. At this point it's really man against machine."
Lawyers for Wyclef have yet to publicly respond to the suit.